The Michigan women’s cross country team had a lot to live
up to after its 2002 season.

Janna Hutz
Sophomore Rebecca Walter led the Wolverines to their best NCAA finish since 1994. (DAVID TUMAN/Daily)

The Wolverines earned the Big Ten title, coach Mike McGuire was
named Big Ten Coach of the Year and the team finished 15th at the
NCAA Championships.

But this year Michigan went above and beyond.

The Wolverines ended their season yesterday by finishing fourth
overall at the NCAA Championships and became the second team in
school history to place within the top five.

“We went from being ranked 22nd in the nation at the start
of the season, to finishing fourth overall,” sophomore
Rebecca Walter said. “I’d say that we definitely
achieved all of the goals we set at the beginning of the
season.”

The Wolverines started off the 2003 season with a rocky start at
the Roy Griak Invitational, where they placed 10th, but made a
quick comeback by finishing fourth at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Last month the team was able to successfully defend its Big Ten
title, with Walter finishing first in the race and being named Big
Ten Athlete of the Year.

McGuire was again named Coach of the Year. The Wolverines
accomplished more in this season than they have since 1994, when
they finished second at the NCAA Championships.

Favorite Stanford stole the title from defending champion
Brigham Young by a small eight-point margin. Providence finished in
third place with 222 points, and Michigan followed with a score of
232.

Walter and senior Jessie Allen-Young led the Wolverines to their
proud finish by placing 17th and 25th respectively.

“I was pretty happy with the results,” Walter said.
top 20. I really liked the course, so it made it a better
race.”

This was Allen-Young’s first season with the Wolverines
after running four years at Dartmouth. She finished up her last
year of eligibility at Michigan where she is attending graduate
school. Yesterday marked her first appearance at the NCAA
Championships.

“I was really pleased with how I ran in the race,”
senior Jessie Allen-Young said. “I was equally excited with
how well the team ended up. A top-five finish is awesome and I am
so proud of everyone.”

Junior Sarah Pizzo, senior Lindsey Gallo and sophomore Katie
Erdman were the third, fourth and fifth respective Michigan scoring
runners, all placing within the top 100 in a field of 225
runners.

“We trained to peak for this meet, and that’s what
we did,” Gallo said.

The race was run on the Irv Warren Golf course, where the
Wolverines ran Pre-Nationals earlier in the season and finished in
fourth place.

“Knowing the course definitely helped us,” Walter
said. “The hills weren’t too bad and due to the cold
weather the ground was much harder.”

The bright sunny sky was very misleading as the temperature hit
a frigid 11 degrees with the wind chill, forcing Michigan to wear
warmer clothes.

“I don’t think the weather made for any worse of a
race,” Walter said. “We’ve run in all kinds of
weather during the season.”

The team left Ann Arbor late Friday evening so they could have
enough time to be relaxed and focused for the race three days
later. And on Sunday evening before the race the team held a
meeting with coach Mike McGuire to talk about race strategies and
team goals.

“There were mixed emotions the night before the
race,” Walter said. “In the meeting there were
definitely elements of being nervous and excited. But ultimately we
knew that we had all trained really hard for this meet since the
beginning of the season. It’s nice to see it pay
off.”

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