The No. 13 Michigan women’s cross country team won with a commanding 81-point margin of victory, but it wasn’t good enough for Michigan coach Mike McGuire.
“We were a little bit off form today,” McGuire said. “We could have done better, scored 20-plus more points.”
Leading the way for the Wolverines at the Greater Louisville Classic was fifth-year senior Danielle Tauro, who placed third with a time of 17:01 in the 5,000 meter race. Then, redshirt freshman Taylor Paugue dropped 14 seconds from her personal best in her first big time collegiate race to follow Tauro with a fourth place finish of 17:04.38. Junior Rebecca Addison closed out the top ten with a time of 17:17.33.
Another standout was redshirt freshman Erica Crane. After sitting out of the Illinois Classic a few weeks ago due to a leg injury, she ran for her first time this weekend as a Wolverine with a 154th-place time of 18:51.16.
“Our goal for Crane was to break 20 minutes,” McGuire said. “She has had to sit out due to injuries in the past, so this is a great step forward”
With freshmen Brook Handler and Megan Weschler, who finished 30th and 36th, gaining critical experience, and Louisville product Mary Grace Pellegrini recovering from illness, the Wolverines still have room to grow before the Big Ten Championships held Oct. 30th in Champaign.
“We have a few more people who we can plug into our lineup,” McGuire said. “They are still adapting and have the potential to be key runners in the future.”
In his 20th season as coach, McGuire has high hopes for the rest of the season. Even with the second straight victory, McGuire feels the team has significant work to do before they can reach the level it took to win the five consecutive Big Ten team titles the team won from 2002 to 2006.
“While collectively we are capable of scoring better, and we have a few things to work on technique-wise, the girls are making good strides forward,” McGuire said. “Our main goal is to keep the girls healthy and continuing to improve.”
Without a race scheduled for the next two weeks, the Wolverines will continue to prepare for NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. on October 16. This will also be the location of the 2011 NCAA Championships, where several other Big Ten powerhouses will be competing.
“This will be the next big step forward to the Big Ten Championships,” McGuire said.