It was “Back to the Future” for much of the men’s cross country team.
With most of the team sitting out the Eastern Michigan University Classic on Friday, three of the younger runners got valuable experience in this non-scoring meet. It was an opportunity for the Michigan coaches and spectators to view the future of the men’s cross country team.
Freshman Ciaran O’Lionaird and sophomore Mark Pokora both had very strong showings, finishing in the top 10. O’Lionaird posted an admirable time of 32:19 while Pokora followed his teammate with a time of 33:01. The pair finished in fifth and 10th place, respectively.
Freshman Mike Luginbill made his debut this season, finishing 45th overall with a mark of 35:49.
Michigan head coach Ron Warhurst said he was pleased with what he saw from his younger runners.
“It was a good, good experience for everyone in the meet,” Warhurst said. “Everyone ran (his) hardest today.”
It was a perfect fall day for cross country with the runners enjoying cool temperatures. The meet allowed the runners a chance to improve upon their results from the Michigan Open, which was run on the same course.
O’Lionaird improved his time by 44 seconds from his previous run, while Pokora also improved, moving from a 26th place finish in the Michigan Open to a 10th place finish on Friday.
Both runners ran extremely hard in the non-scoring meet and, even though it was an exhibition, spectators could sense that it meant something special for those that competed.
“It was a low-key situation that gave some of these younger guys a chance to run.” Warhurst said.
The younger Wolverines were aided by their teammates on the sideline in what ended up as a spirited competition.
Sophomore Lex Williams, who led the Wolverines with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Pre-Nationals last week, did not compete, along with most of his teammates. They instead rested for the Big-Ten Championships scheduled for next Sunday.
Last year, the Wolverines finished a distant sixth place in the Big Ten Championships and look to improve upon that mark this year.
Warhurst understands the fierce competition that the Wolverines face but said his squad is up for the challenge.
“We’ve been training hard all week and are looking to run a lot better than last year,” Warhurst said.