The Michigan women’s cross country team waited in mild trepidation for the results of the Notre Dame Invitational to be posted. The second-ranked Wolverines expected to finish first. Instead, the team gazed in disbelief as Michigan was posted in the fourth-place slot.
“I was shocked and disappointed,” fifth-year senior Erin Webster said. “It’s not where we wanted to finish, and it’s certainly not indicative of how good our team can be.”
The Wolverines finished behind Rice, Big Ten rival Illinois and Florida State. Five Michigan runners finished in the top-50 of the 162-person field, including a third-place finish from redshirt junior Nicole Edwards (16:47) and a 10th-place finish from Webster (17:07).
Michigan took an early lead in the first 600 meters of the race, but couldn’t sustain the pace.
“We were out a little too fast early in the race for where we are at right now and fell backwards on a few people as the race went on,” Michigan coach Mike McGuire said.
Besides Edwards and junior Katie Williams, the Michigan runners were not passing anybody. Instead, they were the ones being passed.
“Each person learned a little bit about how fast actually they can go out,” Edwards said. “Some people learned that, on Friday, the pace was a little too fast for them.”
The Wolverines will now have to regroup for Pre-Nationals in two weeks. Last year, they experienced a similar disappointment to Friday’s, when they tied for an unexpected second place at Pre-Nationals. But the team rebounded and won the Big Ten Championship.
“We will adjust some race plans and see how we bounce back in Pre-Nationals,” McGuire said. “It will be a similar type of race in the fact that it will be a big field, and we will have to handle ourselves accordingly in that race situation.”
Although disappointed with the performance, Michigan is prepared to put the meet behind them and learn from the experience.
“I don’t think it’s an issue of the talent not being there, I think it just has to come together on race day,” Webster said. “We need to realize we’re Michigan and we have a legacy of being good, and we have to continue to train and race that way.”