Oct. 30, 2011
Site: Champaign, Ill. (The University of Illinois' Arboretum)
Meet: Big Ten Championships (8,000 Meters)
U-M Finish: Tie-3rd of 11 Teams (104 points)
Top U-M Individual: Craig Forys, 8th (23:47)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Nov. 12 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Toledo, Ohio), Noon
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Two top-10 finishes propelled the 21st-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team to a tie for third place at the 2011 Big Ten Championships on Sunday (Oct. 30) at the University of Illinois' Arboretum. Fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) and senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) each earned All-Big Ten second team honors for ranking among the top 12 runners in the conference.
Michigan's five scorers all recorded personal-best times to earn 61 team points. Forys paced the Wolverines to the finish line with an eighth-place performance in a time of 23:47, while Aprill finished just one tick behind him to earn ninth place in 23:48.
Junior/sophomore Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) finished 23rd in 24:26. Sophomore Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns) ran a time of 24:32 to finish 31st, while junior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS) secured U-M's fifth scoring spot in 33rd with a time of 24:32.
All of Michigan's scorers were members of last year's Big Ten lineup, except Blacklaws, who redshirted in 2010. Forys and Aprill were both All-Big Ten performers last season as well. Rayyan improved 26 spots from last year's Big Ten Championships, while Ornelas jumped 32 spots.
The Maize and Blue took a share of the third-place team finish with No. 12 Minnesota, which marked a five-spot improvement from last year's Big Ten Championships. The nation's second-ranked team, Wisconsin, took home the Big Ten title, while No. 7 Indiana secured the runner-up finish.
The Wolverines will be back in action in two weeks at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 12, where the team will run its first race of the season at 10,000 meters. The meet is set for a noon start at Ottawa Park Golf Course in Toledo, Ohio.
1. Wisconsin 17
2. Indiana 60
3. MICHIGAN 104
5. Ohio State 138
6. Penn State 165
7. Illinois 181
8. Michigan State 191
9. Purdue 199
10. Iowa 260
11. Nebraska 277
Top 10 Individuals
1. Mohammed Ahmed, Wisconsin 23:18
2. Maverick Darling, Wisconsin 23:26
3. Elliot Krause, Wisconsin 23:27
4. Hassan Mead, Minnesota 23:29
5. Reed Connor, Wisconsin 23:36
6. Ryan Collins, Wisconsin 23:36
7. Andrew Poore, Indiana 23:41
8. CRAIG FORYS, U-M 23:47
9. BOBBY APRILL, U-M 23:48
10. Andrew Bayer, Indiana 23:48
Other Michigan Individuals
23. Brendon Blacklaws, U-M 24:26
31. Morsi Rayyan, U-M 24:32
33. Zach Ornelas, U-M 24:35
64. Mark Beams, U-M 25:20
80. Alex Standiford, U-M 25:51
83. James Yau, U-M 25:57
91. Mason Ferlic, U-M 26:52
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Alex Gibby
On the team's third-place finish at Big Tens ... "I'm pretty pleased with our performance compared to where we were at Wisconsin. We got much better execution across the board. Brendon Blacklaws was a little off, but Craig Forys, Bobby Aprill, Morsi Rayyan and Zach Ornelas all did a very good job. Minnesota is a good team. They came in the 12th-ranked team in the country. We had them in the dead of the race and they sort of snuck back in in the last 2-3,000-meters to tie us, but I was really pleased with what I saw in terms of our execution. We certainly didn't beat Minnesota, but they're a big notch in our belt right now."
On making Michigan cross county relevant again ... "There have been three very consistent programs the last two years at a national level, that's been Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin, and so now we're sort of back in the picture. We've got some steps we need to take, but in terms of what we could have accomplished this weekend, we just about accomplished it."
On what to look for moving forward ... "We've got a pretty good resume for an at-large bid to the NCAAs, so right now the focus is on running well at Regionals. It's a step up to 10,000 meters, which is a new element for some of our guys, but at the same point, we should be better at 10,000 meters than we are at 8,000 meters. Toledo also offers some topographical challenges in terms of hills, which plays in our favor too because we tend to be a strength-based team. Right now the goal is to get over the Big Tens physically and emotionally and get back into our preparation for the Great Lakes Regional and try to take that through to the NCAA Championships."
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423