Oct. 23, 2012
Sunday, Oct. 28 -- at Big Ten Championships (East Lansing, Mich.), 11:45 a.m.
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Race Day Information: Meet Information
The 11th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will kick off the postseason at the Big Ten Championships, which will be hosted by Michigan State, on Sunday (Oct. 28). The 8,000-meter race is set to begin at 11:45 a.m., following the women's race at 10:45 a.m. at Forest Akers Golf Course in East Lansing, Mich.
Wolverines in Action
Nine Wolverines will make up Michigan's Big Ten squad -- Brendon Blacklaws, Mark Beams, Dan Lowry, Zach Ornelas, August Pappas, Nick Posada, Morsi Rayyan, Tony Smoragiewicz and James Yau.
Three Big Ten teams are ranked in the USTFCCCA national coaches poll heading into the conference meet, including No. 11 Michigan, No. 20 Wisconsin and No. 24 Indiana.
Michigan finished tied for third place with Minnesota at last year's Big Ten Championships. Wisconsin captured its 13th straight Big Ten title, while Indiana finished runner-up in 2011.
Four members of this year's Big Ten squad competed for the Wolverines at the 2011 conference meet -- junior Mark Beams, senior/junior Brendon Blacklaws, senior Zach Ornelas and junior Morsi Rayyan.
Blacklaws was a All-Big Ten second team selection in 2009 during his freshman season and is the only current Wolverine to have earned Big Ten honors in their career.
U-M has won eight Big Ten titles in program history, with its last two coming back-to-back in 1997 and 1998.
Michigan has finished in fifth place or better at 20 of the last 22 Big Ten Championships, including three conference titles during that span (1993, '97, '98).
The Big Ten Championships will mark U-M's last 8,000-meter race of the season as the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and NCAA Championships jump to a 10,000-meter course.
Michigan's No. 11 national ranking is its highest since 2008 when the Wolverines were ranked as high as No. 8 on Sept. 30.
U-M has been ranked in the top 30 in each USTFCCCA Division I National Coaches poll this season.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On what has changed individually and with the team since Big Tens a year ago ... "Individually I am much more fit. I've had a lot longer to put in base miles, especially this summer. I got up to about 130 miles per week. I think for me, my strength is getting in the miles and being able to do that without getting injured. As a team, the biggest change has been that we feel that we work together much better this year than we have in the past, both in racing and in practice."
On what's allowed him to be so consistent this season ... "I think it's the mileage. I've been doing higher mileage than a lot of the guys since my freshman year, but it takes years for that kind of work to pay off. I think I'm just starting to see the benefits now from what I've been putting in for the past two to three years."
On the team's goals and strategy for Big Tens ... "We don't really have a goal in terms of a team to beat. Obviously it would great to put up a good fight against Wisconsin and Indiana -- they're two of the best teams in the nation. We're just going out there to put together a solid race from everyone on the Big Ten squad. We're looking to run together and work together as a team. We'll probably have four to five guys that are hopefully toward the front of the main pack in the race and hopefully have a couple guys getting All-Big Ten honors. We just want to work together, which is something we really started to do at the Wisconsin meet. It was effective and we're looking to carry that through Big Tens, onto regionals and nationals."
On how much experience plays a role in success on the course ... "I think experience is a huge factor. When you're a freshman, you've probably raced at the state meet in high school, but it doesn't compare to the caliber of runners and how many phenomenal runners there are in the Big Ten. There is going to be a pack of probably 40 runners who finish within 10 seconds. It's the minute details that separate you from that pack and make you better than them and you pick those things up with experience."
On training all season for this time of year ..."It's great to be at this point of our season. Mileage is really starting to come down right now, I was at 130 at one time and now I'm down in the 80 range. This time of the year we feel much more fresh and ready to go, whereas earlier you're a bit tired all the time. We're just tweaking the final touches and sharpening up for the championship season. It does feel good to get to the point where you feel good in workouts and races."
Friday, Nov. 9 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Madison, Wis.), 1:15 p.m. CDT
Saturday, Nov. 17 -- at NCAA Championships (Louisville, Ky.), 1:15 p.m.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423