On Saturday, the No. 8 Michigan women’s cross country team arrived in Louisville, Ky. to face its largest field of competition so far this season, and the team, led by its seniors, finished third overall.

The 28-team NCAA Pre-National provided the Wolverines with a preview of the national meet that will take place at the same course.

Senior Jillian Smith had the best race of her collegiate career with a 6,000-meter personal record of 20:13.7, good enough to earn her a 10th-place finish.

“The atmosphere of this meet was great,” Smith said. “I got out really well, and I was able to stick with the front pack throughout the race. Our workouts in the past few weeks have had a race mentality, and that really helped me stay close to the top runners in this race.”

The Wolverines’ second finisher, senior Rebecca Addison, ended close behind Smith with a time of 20:35.4 and placed 25th overall.

“I need to compete a little harder in the middle half of the race,” Addison said. “But overall, I’m proud of my performance. The competition in this meet was tough, and I was happy with how our team finished as a whole.”

Finishing 32nd and 35th respectively, fifth-year senior Amanda Eccleston and redshirt sophomore Taylor Pogue clocked in times of 20:46.4 and 20:49.2. Michigan’s fifth and final scoring finisher was sophomore Brook Handler, who placed 37th in a time of 20:54.3, her career best time.

Freshman Shannon Osika (21:07.6) finished sixth on the team and 56th overall, and senior Lindsey Hilton (21:24.3) brought up the rear of Michigan’s top seven with a 77th-place finish.

Michigan coach Mike McGuire said he was pleased with the result of the meet but added that he was slightly concerned about the team’s one-to-five split, which dropped from 30 seconds in the previous meet to 41seconds last Saturday.

“We were ranked fourth in this meet coming in to the race, so I’m pretty pleased with a third-place finish,” McGuire said. “The team did a good job of adapting to a big meet environment like this.”

Both Smith and Addison stressed the importance of senior leadership as the season progresses, stating that they have led by example and helped the younger runners appreciate the team’s success thus far.

The Wolverines are quickly approaching the postseason, which begins with the Big Ten Championship on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Michigan State.

“We did a lot of good things in this meet,” McGuire said. “Looking forward, we’re obviously hoping to capture that Big Ten title in two weeks, and I think we’ll build off of what we accomplished here.”

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