NORTHVILLE — The Michigan women’s cross country team won Detroit Mercy’s Titan Invitational this weekend at Cass Benton Park, but the celebration didn’t last long.
Little time passed before the Wolverines recognized they were far from where they want to be.
“We need to get tougher, faster, stronger — all things need to improve,” fifth-year senior Nicole Edwards said. “I’m not saying we’re terrible, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Michigan won with 27 points, followed by Bucknell (47) and Findlay (99).
In her first race this season, Edwards finished the 5,000-meter course fastest for the Wolverines and set a new course record by nine seconds (17:19).
Edwards and Findlay’s Hilary Esselstein traded leads for most of the race before Edwards took control for good after the halfway mark.
“For her first time out, I thought that was really good,” Michigan coach Mike McGuire said. “It takes a while to kick the rust back out.”
Junior Geena Gall and sophomore Danielle Tauro stayed near the front for most of the race, though the hilly course presented challenges for some of the Wolverines. Gall and Tauro dropped back around the 2,500-meter mark, but regained their positions for fourth (17:50) and fifth-place (17:57) finishes, respectively.
Michigan had five runners in the top 10, but there was a gap of more than a minute between Edwards and junior Kelly Sampson, who finished ninth overall and fifth for the Wolverines. But it will be more difficult for Michigan to dominate the top ten in the larger races with deeper fields.
“We definitely need to pack it up more,” Edwards said. “We need people to be closer together for longer of the race. … It was just too spread out.”
Michigan’s appearance at the Titan Invitational Saturday was its first since 2002. The same weekend last season, the Wolverines traveled over five hours to Bloomington. McGuire said Ann Arbor’s proximity to Northville was one reason the coaches added it to the schedule.
“A little bit of it is taking inventory of what we have with our team, and then focusing a little bit more on the training right now,” McGuire said. “We’ve only been in school four days now. We don’t need to be traveling too far the first weekend of school.”
The Wolverines now have almost a month to improve for their next meet at the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 3.
“We’re going to be working hard,” Gall said. “It will be a lot better next time.”