Toeing the Line #2: U-M Set to Preview Big Ten Course

Sept. 8, 2009

Friday, Sept. 11 -- at Harry Groves Spiked Shoes Invitational (State College, Pa.), 5:30 p.m.

The University of Michigan men's cross country will send 10 runners, including all four newcomers, to the Harry Groves Spiked Shoes Invitational on Friday (Sept. 11) at Penn State's Blue-White Golf Course in State College, Pa. The 5.2-mile race is slated for a 5:30 p.m. start.

The event will provide the Wolverine squad a preview of the course for the 2009 Big Ten Championships, which will be hosted by Penn State on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Top Returning Times
8,000-Meter Run 10,000-Meter Run
Sean McNamara 23:48.8 Sean McNamara 30:41.6
Craig Forys 23:55.2 Craig Forys 31:07.73
Brandon Fellows 24:03.1 Brandon Fellows 31:11.11
Peter Christmas 24:29 Bobby Aprill 31:32
Bobby Aprill 24:30 Peter Christmas 32:18
Michael Dobmeier 25:00 Michael Dobmeier 32:27


Zach Ornelas, Freshman
Freshman Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS), who competed unattached in last Friday's Michigan Open, crossed the finish line with a large share of his new teammates, claiming sixth place in his collegiate debut with a time of 19:18. Ornelas was U-M's top finisher among its rookie class. In high school, the Wolverine newcomer was a two-time high school All-American in the 5,000-meter and steeplechase events and twice placed among the top 10 at the Texas state cross country championships, including a runner-up showing as a senior (2008).

The Wolverines kicked off the 2009 campaign with a solid effort in the Michigan Open last Friday (Sept. 4), as U-M's top five -- including one who competed unattached -- finished within a narrow 10-second window to highlight the 6,000-meter, non-scoring event. Five Wolverine competitors donned the Michigan uniform for the early-season meet with fifth-year senior Sean McNamara (Elmhurst, Ill./York HS) and senior/junior Peter Christmas (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) taking top billing in the second and third positions, respectively, crossing the finish line together at 19:16. Fifth-year senior Lex Williams (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS), who ran unattached and only owns outdoor track eligibility, won the event with a time of 18:55.3.

Return of the Mac -- Fifth-year senior Sean McNamara (Elmhurst, Ill./York HS) paced the Wolverines' effort in the Michigan Open (Sept. 4), edging out senior/junior Peter Christmas (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) at the line to claim runner-up honors with a time of 19:16. McNamara has earned top-10 finishes in six of his last eight appearances in Maize and Blue. He has been Michigan's top finisher twice over the stretch, including a sixth-place at last season's Big Ten Championships.

Carrying the Torch -- The Wolverines boasted consistent performances throughout much of the 2008 campaign -- both collectively and individually. U-M placed among the top 10 at every scored event leading into the NCAA Championships, including a first-place effort at the Br. Doyle Meet of Champions and back-to-back postseason runner-up showings at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional. Individually, the Wolverine squad combined for 27 individual top-10 finishes.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Ron Warhurst is in his 36th season as the head coach of the Michigan men's cross country team. During his U-M tenure, Warhurst has produced seven Big Ten Conference championships teams (1974-75-76-80 (tie)-93-97-98) and guided 12 squads to top-10 performances at the NCAA Championships. Individually, Warhurst has coached 21 different student-athletes to 39 NCAA All-America citations while at Michigan. Over this tenure, Warhurst has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year four times and the NCAA Regional Coach of the year three times, most recently in 2007.

Whatchoo Talkin' Bout Willis? -- Former Wolverine standout Nick Willis will join the U-M coaching staff in 2009 as the cross country program's volunteer coach. Willis claimed seven NCAA All-America citations during his collegiate career at Michigan, including back-to-back cross country honors (28th, 2002; 18th, 2003), and was the 2005 NCAA champion in the mile. On the international scene, Willis is a two-time Olympian, claiming the 1,500-meter bronze medal in last year's Beijing Games. He won the 1,500-meter title at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and participated in the 1,500m at the 2007 IAAF World Championships.

Michigan cross country/track is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (michigan_track) with up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond. Twitter is a free casual, online social network that is designed to connect businesses, organizations and individuals. Each Twitter post (or "tweet") can be received on a user's cell phone via text or on the web.

The United States Cross Country Coaches Association has yet to release its MONDO first national poll and regional polls for the 2009 season; the preseason poll will be released the week of Sept. 16. The Wolverines ended the 2008 campaign with the No. 9 ranking in the final MONDO national poll (Nov. 19, 2008).

Saturday, Oct. 3 -- at Wisconsin Inter-Regional Invitational (Madison, Wis.), 10 a.m. CDT
Saturday, Oct. 10 -- at Michigan Intercollegiate (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 11 a.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423