Toeing the Line #4: U-M Stays In State for Michigan Intercollegiate

Oct. 7, 2009

Friday, Oct. 9 -- at Michigan Intercollegiate (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 4:15 p.m.

The University of Michigan men's cross country team will send 11 runners, including two slated to compete unattached, to the annual Michigan Intercollegiate on Friday (Oct. 9) in Grand Rapids, Mich. Hosted by Calvin College, the men's 8,000-meter race is scheduled for a 4:15 p.m. start at the Gainey Athletic Complex.

Appearing for the Wolverines will be 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. Junior Craig Forys and freshman Dallas Bowden will run unattached.

Michigan returns to the annual event after a five-year hiatus. In their last appearance, the Wolverines claimed fourth place in the 4,000-meter division at the 2004 event. One year earlier, U-M placed five of the top-six individual spots to win the 8,000-meter crown.


Bobby Aprill, Sophomore
Sophomore Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) has paced the Wolverine squad in each of the last two events, claiming 35th place at last Saturday's Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 3) after taking second at Penn State's Harry Groves Spiked Shoes Invitational three weeks earlier (Sept. 11). His second-place performance matched his best individual finish and was the fourth top-10 showing of his career.

The Wolverines earned their second top-10 finish of the season at the inaugural Wisconsin adidas Invitational last Saturday (Oct. 3), claiming ninth place (234 pounds) at the brand-new Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. For the second time in as many meets, sophomore Bobby Aprill led the Wolverine contingent to the finish line, taking 35th place with a time of 24:49.2. Michigan's first four across the line -- Aprill, freshman Brendon Blacklaws, fifth-year senior Brandon Fellows, freshman Zach Ornelas -- finished within a narrow 22-second window.

Fantastic Freshmen -- Six 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 top-five finishers at both scored meets of the season, including fourth- and eighth-place efforts at the Harry Groves Invitational (Sept. 11).

Late Additions -- The Wolverines added a pair of runners to the 2009 roster last week -- sophomore/freshman Derek Henning (Alanson, Mich./Petoskey HS) and freshman Ramses Dukes (Detroit, Mich./Mumford HS). Henning, who took 112th place in his collegiate debut at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational last Saturday (Oct. 3), was a two-time cross country all-region selection in high school, while Dukes earned all-city honors in his final three seasons.

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.

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.

On the heels of their ninth-place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 3), the Wolverines dropped out of the top 30 in the latest NCAA Division I cross country poll, released Tuesday (Oct. 6) by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association. Michigan owns the fourth spot among teams in the Great Lakes Region.

USTFCCCA Men's Division I Cross Country National Poll

Ranking Team Region/Rank Totals Previous
1. Stanford West-1 255 3
2. Northern Arizona Mountain-1 228 5
3. Alabama South-1 326 9
4. Colorado Mountain-2 319 6
Oklahoma State Midwest-1 319 2
6. BYU Mountain-3 304 12
7. Oregon West-2 293 1
8. Portland West-3 267 8
9. William & Mary Southeast-1 247 13
10. Georgetown Mid-Atlantic-1 235 10
11. Syracuse Northeast-1 227 NR
12. Iona Northeast-2 217 7
13. Wisconsin Great Lakes-1 212 4
14. Washington West-4 203 22
15. Virginia Southeast-2 193 14
16. Providence Northeast-3 184 15
17. Indiana Great Lakes-2 161 NR
18. Iowa State Midwest-2 158 16
19. Arizona State West-5 118 NR
Butler Great Lakes-3 118 20
21. New Mexico Mountain-4 115 24
NC State Southeast-3 115 19
23. Oklahoma Midwest-3 101 25
24. Villanova Mid-Atlantic-1 86 NR
25. Arkansas South Central-1 61 17
26. Duke Southeast-4 52 27
27. Tulsa Midwest-4 45 11
28. Florida State South-1 44 26
29. Cal Poly West-6 41 18
30. Minnesota Midwest-5 32 29

Friday, Oct. 23 -- at EMU Fall Classic (Dexter, Mich.), 4 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 1 -- at Big Ten Championships (State College, Pa.), 10:45 a.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423