After coming off of a disappointing weekend at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, the No. 24 Michgan women’s cross country team is looking to bounce back as it heads to Ypsilanti today for the Eastern Michigan Classic, which will be held in Buhr Park.
The 5,000-meter, non-scoring race will feature some of Michigan’s younger, less experienced runners. Freshmen Theresa Feldkamp, Erica Flannery and Jen Leichtman will be the only runners representing the Maize and Blue at the race, while the top runners try to rest up for the upcoming Big Ten Championships, which takes place Nov. 3.
Michigan coach Mike McGuire hopes that the young runners will gain some experience that they can carry into the track and field season. Feldkamp is expected to be one of the top female 800-meter runners in the Big Ten, and could turn out to be a real weapon as an upperclassman. Leichtman and Flannery are both middle-distance runners that McGuire hopes will blossom into strong competitors on the track.
“We’re preparing Theresa for the 800-meter in track,” McGuire said.”She’s definitely better than (she was) at the beginning of the season.”
When asked how cross country has helped her to prepare for track, Feldkamp replied, “It’s given me a solid base to go into. It will make me a lot stronger for the 800-meter.”
Feldkamp, who led the Wolverines at the Michigan Intercollegiate, will go through rigorous training during the offseason, in hopes of competing against some of the top runners in the Big Ten.
“I’ll probably get back into a good weight program,” Feldkamp said. “I need to work on the sustained running and a little speed work, too.”
Lack of upperclassman leadership on the team was evident in a substandard performance at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, where the leading runner for the Wolverines was freshman Rebecca Walter. After the race, Michigan fell to fourth in the Big Ten standings and dropped from No. 18 in the nation to No. 24.
McGuire plans to raise the bar. Considering that 10 of the 12 runners from this year’s team will be returning next season, he knows how quickly youth and inexperience can turn into valuable veteran power.