Toeing the Line #6: U-M Competes at Big Ten Championships Sunday

Oct. 26, 2010

Sunday, Oct. 31 -- Big Ten Championships (Madison, Wis.), 11:45 a.m. CDT

The University of Michigan men's cross country team will send nine runners to the annual Big Ten Championships on Sunday (Oct.31) at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country course in Madison, Wis. In their first step in the postseason, the Wolverines will compete in the 8,000-meter race, which is slated for an 11:45 a.m. CDT start.

The Wolverines' Big Ten lineup will feature junior Bobby Aprill, freshman Mark Beams, freshman Sean Bone, sophomore Dallas Bowden, senior/junior Craig Forys, junior/sophomore Derek Henning, sophomore Zach Ornelas, freshman Morsi Rayyan and junior Nick Thomas.

For more information about Big Ten Championships, including a course video tour, please visit

On what he wants to see at the Big Ten meet ... "I want to see our best team race of the year, and I want them to execute what we've been practicing on a daily basis for the last seven to eight weeks. I'm confident that if we can do that, we can perform well against the competition. After the first two teams in the conference, it's a pretty even playing field. So the team that best executes among that group will be rewarded. With Bobby [Aprill] and Craig [Forys], we have the capacity to put two guys in before any of their peers. Success will be defined by what we do in the three to five spots. It's just a matter of execution. We need to be intelligently assertive and follow through on early decisions through the midrace juncture. In our sport, success is marked by November performances, and in my first season here, I want to start that tradition off on the right foot."

The Wolverines have claimed nine conference titles dating back to 1922. Since 1990, Michigan and the University of Wisconsin have dominated the Big Ten Championships. In that time, Wisconsin has captured 17 conference titles, while the Wolverines won three in 1993, '97 and '98. Only six times in the last 20 years has the pair of schools not finished one and two at the Big Ten Championships.

The Wolverines took fifth place at the 2009 Big Ten Championships (117 points), scoring five runners in the top 30 at Penn State's Blue/White Golf Course. Freshman Brendon Blacklaws led the way for the Wolverines for the first time this season, covering the 5.2-mile course in 25:44.3 en route to 14th place and All-Big Ten second team honors in his first appearance at the annual conference meet. Michigan's next three -- Peter Christmas, Sean McNamara and Dallas Bowden -- essentially crossed the finish line together, claiming 23rd, 24th and 26th place, respectively.

The Wolverines sent a six-man contingent to the EMU Fall Classic on Saturday (Oct. 23) in the regular-season finale at Hudson Mills Metropark. Junior Nick Thomas (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Brother Rice HS) paced the Wolverines in the 10,000-meter non-scoring event, claiming fifth place with a time of 29:57 to earn the final spot on the nine-member squad that will represent U-M at this week's Big Ten Championships.

Bobby's World -- Junior Bobby Aprill lead the Wolverines to the finish line for the first time this season --- and fourth time in his career -- with a 41st-place finish and career-best time of 24:22.3 at the NCAA Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16. Aprill's effort shaved eight seconds from his previous best time, which he registered two seasons ago at the Notre Dame Invitational.

May the Forys Be With You -- Despite a one-year layoff due to injury, senior/junior Craig Forys picked up where he left off in his return to cross country competition, turning in a solid 11th-place finish to pace the Wolverines at the Cowboy Jamboree on Sept 25. It was the second time in his career that Forys crossed line as U-M's top finisher, adding to a seventh-place performance at the 2007 Big Ten Championships. The Wolverine junior owns 11 top-15 showings in his collegiate career, including four finishes among the top five.

Phenomenal Freshmen -- Eight newcomers have made their collegiate debuts for the Maize and Blue this season. Six freshmen competed for the Wolverines at last weekend's NCAA Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16, including Sean Bone (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion HS) and Adam Kerns (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) placed 178th and 179th, respectively, to finish among Michigan's scoring five. Both rookies posted career days as Bone registered a time of 25:48.2 to trim 29 from his previous personal best and Kern shaved 26 seconds from his best with a time of 25:49.1.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Alex Gibby was announced as the eighth head coach in Michigan men's cross country program history on July 29, 2010, and enters his first season with the Maize and Blue. As head coach of the William and Mary men's cross country and track and field programs (2003-10), Gibby paced the Tribe to four straight top-16 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, three NCAA Southeast Region titles and seven CAA cross country titles. Last fall, Gibby was honored as the Southeast Region Coach of the Year for the third time in his career (2005, '08, '09) after leading William and Mary to fifth place at the NCAA Championships -- the second-best showing in Tribe program history -- and three individual All-Americans. He is also a seven-time CAA Coach of the Year recipient.

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 Wolverines remain just outside of the top 30 in the latest NCAA Division I cross country poll, released last Tuesday (Oct. 19) by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association. U-M owns the 11th spot among the Great Lakes Region.

Saturday, Nov. 13 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Rochester, Mich.), 1:15 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 22 -- at NCAA Championships (Terra Haute, Ind.), 12:45 p.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423