Team, Christmas Capture Titles at Michigan Intercollegiate

Oct. 9, 2009

Site: Grand Rapids, Mich. (Gainey Athletic Complex)
Meet: Michigan Intercollegiate (8,000 meters)
U-M Finish: First of 25 Teams (32 points)
Top U-M Individual: Peter Christmas, 1st (25:07.8)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Oct. 23 -- at EMU Fall Classic (Dexter, Mich.), 4 p.m.

Grand Rapids, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's cross country team boasted four top-10 individual finishers, including three among the top five, to claim first place at the Michigan Intercollegiate on Friday afternoon (Oct. 9) at Calvin College's Gainey Athletic Complex. The team victory was the Wolverines' second of the 2009 season and their third consecutive top-10 finish.

After sitting out last weekend's meet with illness, senior/junior Peter Christmas (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) claimed top individual honors, winning the 8,000-meter race with a time of 25:07.8. His first collegiate cross country win, the performance was Christmas' third top-five finish in as many appearances this season.

With wet and muddy conditions spoiling any pre-race tactics, the Wolverines immediately pushed to the front of the field and set the pace among the leaders. The U-M scoring contingent stayed together for nearly the entire race before separating slightly during the final kick.

Fifth-year senior Sean McNamara (Elmhurst, Ill./York HS), who also missed last week's event, crossed the line just a few steps behind in third place (25:13.4), while freshman Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) and sophomore Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) earned top-10 finishes -- the third of the season for both -- in fourth and ninth place, respectively.

Freshman Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS) rounded out the U-M scorers in 15th place with a time of 25:49.9, limiting the Wolverines' top-five window to a narrow 42 seconds. In all, 232 individuals participated in the annual Michigan Intercollegiate, with Michigan placing its entire nine-man squad in the top 71.

Michigan will take a two-week hiatus before returning to competition at the annual EMU Fall Classic on Friday, Oct. 23, in Dexter, Mich. The 8,000-meter race is slated for a 4 p.m. start at Hudson Mills Metropark.

Team Standings (Top 10)

 1. MICHIGAN                    32
 2. Grand Valley State          55
 3. Eastern Michigan            66
 4. Aquinas                    167
 5. Calvin                     178
 6. Saginaw Valley State       191
 7. Michigan State             226
 8. Cornerstone                248
 9. Hillsdale                  250
10. Siena Heights              330

Top 10 Individuals

1. Peter Christmas, U-M                 25:07.8
2. Tyler Emmorey, Grand Valley State    25:08.7
3. Sean McNamara, U-M                   25:13.4
4. Brendon Blacklaws, U-M               25:16.0
5. Curtis Vollmar, EMU                  25:18.4
6. Zach Ripley, Cornerstone             25:23.9
7. Paul Zielinski, Grand Valley State   25:27.0
8. James Hughes, EMU                    25:30.3
9. Bobby Aprill, U-M                    25:39.7
10. R.P. White, EMU                     25:43.8

Other Michigan Individuals

15. Zach Ornelas, U-M               25:49.9
20. Brandon Fellows, U-M            25:54.1
34. Geoff Burns, U-M                26:17.8
42. Derek Henning, U-M              26:30.9
71. Dan Tyler, U-M                  27:03.6


Michigan Head Coach Ron Warhurst
On the race conditions and Michigan's performance ... "It had rained all day, so the course was terribly muddy, similar to the conditions at Penn State a few weeks ago. They had already run three races on the course, so it was just a slop-fest the whole way. So, I was disappointed with the weather, because you just can't run fast in mud. I thought Peter [Christmas] ran very well, and [Sean] McNamara was just a little behind. It was nice to have those guys back. They are both toe runners and can do a good job getting through that mud. Bobby [Aprill] and Brandon Fellows are more flat-footed, so they didn't do quite as well. But, all in all, I thought it was a productive performance. They were competitive and bounced back a bit from last weekend. I'm pretty happy with it."

U-M Senior/Junior Peter Christmas
On his race... "We went right to the front. We were basically running through pools, which was fun, but it's a big hard on the legs. We didn't want to get caught back in the pack, so there were about five of us up front. It felt pretty good. I was sick last week, so I didn't work too hard over the past week, but I didn't feel like I had lost any fitness. Sean [McNamara] and I had wanted to get out hard, but with the conditions, we kind of bagged that and just tried to stay in the group and get everyone in the top 12, top 15."

On his season success and progression... "I am progressing each week. We have just now started doing some fast workouts. We all have a very strong base, so I think all of us will just continue to progress. We're focused on keeping consistency as we prepare for Big Tens, our next big race."

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423