Oct. 28, 2012
Site: East Lansing, Mich. (Forest Akers Golf Course)
Meet: Big Ten Championships (8,000 Meters)
U-M Team Finish: 2nd of 11 Teams (65 points)
Top U-M Individual: Dan Lowry, 5th (23:39.7)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Nov. 9 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Madison, Wis.), 1:15 p.m. CDT
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The 11th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team finished in second place at the Big Ten Championships on Sunday (Oct. 28) at Michigan State's Forest Akers Golf Course. The Wolverines' five scorers each finished in a 34-second split, placing within the top 20 runners to record 65 points.
Wisconsin captured its 14th straight Big Ten title, tallying 33 points, while Indiana rounded out the top three with 79 points.
In his Big Ten Championships debut, senior Dan Lowry (Philadelphia, Pa./La Salle College) paced Michigan to the finish line, placing fifth in a time of 23:39.7 to earn All-Big Ten first team honors.
Juniors Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns) and Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) secured the final two spots on the All-Big Ten second team, finishing 13th and 14th, respectively. Rayyan clocked a time of 24:10.8, while Beams finished on his heels in 24:12.1.
Also debuting at the conference championships was freshman Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Rapid City Central), who finished 16th in a time of 24:13.4. In his final Big Ten meet, senior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge) grabbed U-M's final scoring position, running a time of 24:14.0 to place 17th.
Senior/junior Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) also finished within the top 20, stopping the watch at 24:22.2 to place 20th. Sophomore/freshman August Pappas (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) rounded out Michigan's top seven, placing 38th in a time of 24:40.4.
The Wolverines will take a week off before continuing the championship portion of the season with the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 9. The meet, which will be hosted by the University of Wisconsin, is set for a 1:15 p.m. CDT start at Zimmer Championship Course in Madison.
1. Wisconsin 33 2. MICHIGAN 65 3. Indiana 79 4. Illinois 86 5. Minnesota 141 6. Penn State 169 7. Michigan State 183 8. Ohio State 210 9. Purdue 213 10. Iowa 267 11. Nebraska 333
Top 10 Finishers
1. Zachary Mayhew, Indiana 23:29.2 2. Maverick Darling, Wisconsin 23:34.1 3. Mohammed Ahmed, Wisconsin 23:35.2 4. Andrew Bayer, Indiana 23:38.0 5. DAN LOWRY, U-M 23:39.7 6. Reed Connor, Wisconsin 23:46.9 7. Robert Finnerty, Wisconsin 24:01.2 8. Matt McClintock, Purdue 24:03.7 9. Jannis Topfer, Illinois 24:06.7 10. Hunter Mickow, Illinois 24:07.8
Other Michigan Finishers
13. Morsi Rayyan, U-M 24:10.8 14. Mark Beams, U-M 24:12.1 16. Tony Smoragiewicz, U-M 24:13.4 17. Zach Ornelas, U-M 24:14.0 20. Brendon Blacklaws, U-M 24:22.2 38. August Pappas, U-M 24:40.4 50. James Yau, U-M 24:54.0 88. Nick Posada, U-M 25:51.1
N O T E S
• Michigan's second-place finish is its highest since 2008 when the Wolverines also finished second.
• U-M has improved its finish in each of the last two years under head coach Alex Gibby's guidance, finishing eighth in 2010, tied for third in 2011 and second in 2012.
• Michigan's three All-Big Ten performers are the most the Wolverines have had since 2008, when Sean McNamara (first team), Craig Forys (second team) and Ciaran O'Lionaird (second team) also earned the recognition.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Alex Gibby
On team's second-place performance ... "I think if you would have asked me last year, I would probably have said that second place was logical. We were going up against the defending national champions in Wisconsin and while Indiana experienced some attrition due to graduation, we had guys develop and also added Dan (Lowry). Of course, in the moment after the race, I would say we had some things go well and I also thought we were a little flat. The grouping of (Mark) Beams, (Morsi) Rayyan and (Zach) Ornelas, who has run well for us all year, I thought they were a little passive from two to four miles, which is our part in the race for those guys. They just didn't attack, and if they did, they would have forced some other kids into tougher decisions. It's one of those situations where it doesn't change our team place, but it would have changed our team score and probably would have put another guy up on the podium with an All-Big Ten honor. I really was happy with Tony (Smoragiewicz) -- that was a nice experience for a young freshman. You could tell when he got himself into his position, he didn't even blink."
On the guys working together more this year ... "It's not something we really work on, but after the hours we spend together in practice, it organically occurred. Their track PRs are similar, their training styles are somewhat similar and they have different emphases in races, but when we get them connected, they do a really good job of holding each other accountable."
On the team moving forward to ... "With the regional, the point is to qualify for NCAAs -- would a regional championship be nice? Sure, but we're going to sit Tony Smoragiewicz. He just got back from the World Junior Triathlon Championships in New Zealand. He needs the training time and probably some time away from travel to focus on school. We are fortunate that we have a nice set of points from this meet and the Wisconsin Invitational two weeks ago, that even if we're third or fourth in the region, we'll still qualify. Now that's not the goal, we want to grab one of the auto-spots, but we'll see some of these teams again. Moving to 10,000 meters will benefit us relative to other teams, including Wisconsin. We've got some personnel that is capable of running better -- Brendon Blacklaws is going back in the right direction now; I sincerely believe August Pappas can help us out at the national level."
U-M Senior Dan Lowry
On his thought on the team and individual performances today ... "As a team, I thought things went really well. We had a lot of good performances and it was good to see some of the younger guys stepping up. Individually, I ran as best as I could of. I think it was a tactical race and that didn't quite play out to my advantage because some of the top guys on the other teams have a little bit more speed than I do. I could have benefitted from a race that got out a little harder. I know that moving from 8K to 10K in the next two races are going to play to my advantage and that's exciting."
On the team's mindset moving further into the postseason ... "We have a lot of momentum going into regionals and nationals from doing well at Wisconsin and now showing that it wasn't a fluke here. I think that we all know, based on our training, that the 10K is going to be good for us, whereas for a lot of teams, that hurts them. I think that's really going to boost our confidence even more."
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423