Toeing the Line #6: U-M Kicks Off Postseason at Big Ten Meet

Oct. 27, 2009

Sunday, Nov. 1 -- at Big Ten Championships (State College, Pa.), 10:45 a.m.

The University of Michigan men's cross country team kicks off the postseason on Sunday (Nov. 1) at the Big Ten Championships in State College, Pa. Hosted by Penn State University, the 5.2-mile men's race is slated for a 10:45 a.m. start at the Blue-White Golf Course.

Michigan's Big Ten lineup will include sophomore Bobby Aprill, freshman Brendon Blacklaws, freshman Dallas Bowden, sophomore/freshman Geoff Burns, senior/junior Peter Christmas, fifth-year senior Brandon Fellows, sophomore/freshman Derek Henning, fifth-year senior Sean McNamara and freshman Zach Ornelas.

For complete Big Ten Championships information, including diagrams of the men's and women's courses, please visit


Peter Christmas, Senior/Junior
Senior/Junior Peter Christmas (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) is poised for a breakout Big Ten performance in step with the tremendous success he has shown in his third collegiate season. Christmas owns a three top-five finishes in as many appearances this year, capturing his first-ever collegiate cross country win at the Michigan Intercollegiate on Oct. 10. Christmas placed 33rd at last season's Big Ten Championships -- his only appearance at the annual conference meet.

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 16 conference titles, while the Wolverines won three in 1993, '97 and '98. Only five times in the last 19 years has the pair of schools not finished one and two at the Big Ten Championships.

The Wolverines earned a runner-up finish at the 2008 Big Ten Championships (57 points), scoring four runners in the top 14 at the U-M Golf Course. Sean McNamara (Elmhurst, Ill./York) was the first Wolverine runner across the line, finishing sixth with a time of 24:48.7, while teammates Justin Switzer, Ciaran O'Lionaird and Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) followed close behind in 10th, 11th and 12th place, respectively, to earn All-Big Ten second team honors. Wisconsin won the team title for a Big Ten record 10th straight year with 40 points.

Michigan sent a four-man contingent to the EMU Fall Classic on Friday (Oct. 23) in the regular-season finale at Hudson Mills Metropark. Sophomore/freshman Derek Henning (Alanson, Mich./Petoskey HS) paced the attached duo in the 5,000-meter, non-scoring event, placing 20th with a time of 16:08. Freshman Dallas Bowden (Hastings, New Zealand/Nelson College), while competing unattached, turned in his second straight top-five performance, claiming fifth place with a time of 15:20. Both Wolverines earned spots among U-M Big Ten Championships lineup.

Merry Christmas -- Senior/junior Peter Christmas nabbed the Wolverines' first Big Ten Runner of the Week accolade of the 2009 season in recognition of his performance at the Michigan Intercollegiate. The performance marked Christmas' first collegiate cross country win and his third top-five finish in as many appearances this season. The Big Ten weekly honor was the second for Christmas in his career; he previously claimed distinction on Oct. 19, 2007, after pacing the Maize and Blue at the EMU Fall Classic with a fourth-place performance.

Aprill Showers -- Sophomore Bobby Aprill has crossed the line as Michigan's top finisher twice this season. Most notably, Aprill claimed runner-up performance at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoes Invitationalon Sept. 11 -- on the same course that will be used for this weekend's Big Ten Championships -- to match his best individual finish and earn the fourth top-10 showing of his career. Aprill also paced the Wolverines at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 3, taking 35th place with a time of 24:49.2.

Carrying the Torch -- The Wolverines picked up where they left off last season, capturing team trophies at the Michigan Intercollegiate (Oct. 9) and Harry Groves Invitational (Sept. 11). Michigan owns three consecutive top-10 finishes in scored meets this year. 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.

Fantastic Freshmen -- Six different Wolverine newcomers have made their collegiate debut this season. Freshmen Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS) and Brendon Blacklaws crossed the line among Michigan's top-five finishers at all three scored meets of the season.

Late Additions -- The Wolverines added a pair of runners to the 2009 roster a few weeks ago -- sophomore/freshman Derek Henning (Alanson, Mich./Petoskey HS) and freshman Ramses Dukes (Detroit, Mich./Mumford HS). Henning, who has represented the Wolverines at their last three events, was a two-time cross country all-region selection in high school, while Dukes earned all-city honors in his final three seasons.

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.

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.

In response to last week's limited national competition, the United States Cross Country Coaches Association issued a repeat poll on Tuesday (Oct. 27), keeping the Wolverines just outside of the top 30 in the latest NCAA Division I cross country rankings. 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-1 358 1
2. Oregon West-2 337 7
3. Oklahoma State Midwest-1 332 4
4. Colorado Mountain-1 324 4
5. Northern Arizona Mountain-2 315 2
6. Alabama South-1 309 3
7. BYU Mountain-3 291 6
8. Portland West-3 265 8
9. William & Mary Southeast-1 263 9
10. Georgetown Mid-Atlantic-1 241 10
11. Iona Northeast-1 232 12
12. Virginia Southeast-2 228 15
13. Washington West-4 209 14
14. Syracuse Northeast-2 202 11
15. Wisconsin Great Lakes-1 200 13
16. Arizona State West-5 184 19
17. Providence Northeast-3 169 16
18. Indiana Great Lakes-2 142 17
19. New Mexico Mountain-4 141 21
20. Oklahoma Midwest-1 116 23
21. Florida State South-1 111 28
22. Villanova Mid-Atlantic-2 96 24
23. Iowa State Midwest-2 84 18
24. Auburn South-2 80 NR
25. Louisville Southeast-2 74 NR
26. Duke Southeast-3 50 26
27. Washington State West-6 50 NR
28. Arkansas South Central-1 47 25
29. Tulsa Midwest-3 45 27
30. NC State Southeast-4 27 21

Saturday, Nov. 14 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Bloomington, Ind.), 12 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 23 -- at NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.), 12 p.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423