Toeing the Line #3: U-M Heads to Wisconsin adidas Invitational

Sept. 29, 2009

Saturday, Oct. 3 -- at Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Madison, Wis.), 11 a.m. CDT

After a three-week hiatus, the University of Michigan men's cross country will resume competition at the inaugural Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Saturday (Oct. 3) at Wisconsin's new Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wis. The 8,000-meter men's race is slated for an 11 a.m. CDT start.

U-M will send nine runners to the race -- sophomore Bobby Aprill, freshman Brendon Blacklaws, sophomore/freshman Geoff Burns, senior Peter Christmas, fifth-year senior Brandon Fellows, sophomore/freshman Derek Henning, fifth-year senior Sean McNamara, freshman Zach Ornelas and freshman Dan Tyler.

Among the teams slated to appear at the Wisconsin meet are Arkansas, Auburn, Brigham Young, Duke, Georgetown, Illinois, Iowa, Marquette, Nebraska, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.

For more information about Wisconsin adidas Invitational, including a video tour of the Zimmer Course, please visit


Peter Christmas, Senior
Senior Peter Christmas (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) owns a pair of top-five finishes in Michigan's two meets this season, claiming third place at the season-opening Michigan Open (Sept. 5) before placing fifth at the Harry Groves Invitational (Sept. 11). The top-five showings were just the second and third in Christmas' collegiate career; he owns six top-10 efforts.

In a preview of the Big Ten Conference meet course (Penn State's Blue-White Golf Course), the Wolverines placed all five scored runners among the top 10 to capture first place (25 points) at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoes Invitational (Sept. 11). Sophomore Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) led the Wolverine contingent to the finish line, claiming second place overall with a time of 26:27.

Michigan's 25 points marked its lowest score since registering 24 en route to first place at the 2006 Spartan Invitational (Sept. 15, 2006).

Carrying the Torch -- The Wolverines picked up where they left off last season, capturing the team trophy at the Harry Groves Invitational (Sept. 11) in their first scored meet of the 2009 campaign. U-M has claimed at least one team title in each of the last four seasons. Last year, Michigan 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.

Aprill Showers -- With his runner-up performance at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoes Invitational (Sept. 11), sophomore Bobby Aprill crossed the line as Michigan's top finisher for the second time in his career, previously achieving the feat at last season's EMU Fall Classic. His second-place performance also matched his best individual finish and was the fourth top-10 showing of his career.

Fantastic Freshmen -- Five different Wolverine newcomers have made their collegiate debut this season -- two of them competing unattached. Freshmen Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS) and Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) crossed the line among Michigan's scored top-five finishers at the Harry Groves Invitational (Sept. 11), placing fourth and eighth, respectively, to earn team points for the Maize and Blue for the first time in their careers.

Captain's Log, Stardate 23.9 -- Fifth-year seniors Brandon Fellows (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island HS) and Sean McNamara (Elmhurst, Ill./York HS) and senior Peter Christmas will serve as the Wolverines' team tri-captains for the 2009 campaign.

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.

Falling one position from its preseason ranking, Michigan owns the No. 22 spot in the latest NCAA Division I cross country poll, released Tuesday (Sept. 29) by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association. One of three Big Ten Conference schools featured in the rankings, U-M also owns the third spot among the Great Lakes Region.

USTFCCCA Men's Division I Cross Country National Poll

Ranking Team Region/Rank Totals Previous
1. Oregon West-1 357 1
2. Oklahoma State Midwest-1 346 2
3. Stanford West-2 336 3
4. Wisconsin Great Lakes-1 311 4
5. Northern Arizona Mountain-1 310 5
6. Colorado Mountain-2 303 6
7. Iona Northeast-1 290 7
8. Portland West-3 270 8
9. Alabama South-1 262 10
10. Georgetown Mid-Atlantic-1 256 9
11. Tulsa Midwest-2 235 11
12. BYU Mountain-3 233 12
13. William & Mary Southeast-1 204 15
14. Virginia Southeast-2 195 14
15. Providence Northeast-2 183 16
16. Iowa State Midwest-2 152 25
17. Arkansas South Central-1 132 18
18. Cal Poly West-4 131 21
19. NC State Southeast-3 122 19
20. Auburn South-2 114 13
Butler Great Lakes-2 114 20
22. Washington West-5 109 24
23. MICHIGAN Great Lakes-3 100 22
24. New Mexico Mountain-4 82 26
25. Oklahoma Midwest-3 79 NR
26. Florida State South-3 77 23
27. Duke Southeast-4 57 NR
28. Notre Dame Great Lakes-4 51 27
29. Minnesota Midwest-4 43 17
30. Princeton Mid-Atlantic-1 18 NR

Saturday, Oct. 10 -- at Michigan Intercollegiate (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 11 a.m.
Friday, Oct. 23 -- at EMU Fall Classic (Dexter, Mich.), 4 p.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423