Oct. 30, 2013
Former Walk-Ons Now Team Captains
The Team Behind the Team | Morsi Rayyan Spotlight
Sunday, Nov. 3 -- at Big Ten Championships (West Lafayette, Ind.), 10:45 a.m.
After a week off from competition, the 16th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will begin the championship stretch of its season at the Big Ten Championships, which will be hosted by Purdue on Sunday (Nov. 3). The men's 8K race is set to go off at 10:45 a.m., followed by the women's 6K at 11:45 a.m. at Boilermaker Cross Country Course. Admission is free for the event and parking in adjacent lots will be $10.
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Race Day Information: Championship Central
Wolverines in Action: Mark Beams, Mason Ferlic, Ben Flanagan, Cory Glines, Connor Mora, August Pappas, Morsi Rayyan, Tony Smoragiewicz, James Yau
No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan and No. 24 Indiana are the only three nationally ranked Big Ten teams heading into this year's conference meet, as was the case going into last year's Big Ten meet.
Head coach Alex Gibby has helped Michigan improve its finish at the Big Ten Championships each year during his tenure. After finishing eighth in 2010 with the group he inherited, his 2011 squad placed tied for third, and last year's team ran to a runner-up finish.
The Wolverines finished second at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, which was the program's highest finish since 2008. Michigan's 65 points finished second to Wisconsin, which won its 14th straight conference title with 33 points.
All-Big Ten second teamers seniors Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns) and Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg), who finished 13th and 14th, respectively, at last year's conference event, return to lead Michigan this year. Also returning from U-M's 2012 Big Ten runner-up squad are sophomore Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Rapid City Central) (16th), junior/sophomore August Pappas (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) (38th) and senior/junior James Yau (Troy, Mich./Troy) (50th). Smoragiewicz finished just shy of earning All-Big Ten accolades a year ago, as the top seven receive All-Big Ten first team honors, and the eighth through 14th finishers earn All-Big Ten second team recognition.
Michigan will have three true freshmen in its lineup at the Big Ten Championships, including Ben Flanagan (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada/St. Mary's), Cory Glines (Canton, Ohio/St. Thomas Aquinas) and Connor Mora (Cedar Springs, Mich./Cedar Springs). They are the only three members of U-M's Big Ten squad who will be making their conference meet debut.
After missing the 2012 championship season due to injury, junior tri-captain Mason Ferlic (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy) will return to Michigan's Big Ten squad this weekend. He was a member of Michigan's Big Ten, regional and national championship team as a freshman in 2011.
Mason Ferlic has been Michigan's top finisher in each race where its varsity squad has competed this season. Ferlic finished eighth at the Cowboy Jamboree (Sept. 28) and 12th at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 19).
Tony Smoragiewicz will make his season debut at the Big Ten Championships. After finishing 42nd at the World Junior Triathlon Championships on Sept. 14, for Team USA, he returned to Ann Arbor to transition back to distance running full time and prepare for the championship season. Smoragiewicz was a member of U-M's squad at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships as a freshman in 2012.
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.
This year's Big Ten Championships will mark the first time the Boilermakers will host since 2002 and the first time since their course was redesigned earlier this season. [ 8K Course Map ]
After its ninth-place performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 19), Michigan returned to the USTFCCCA Coaches' Poll top 30 at No. 16 on Oct. 22. The Wolverines had dropped out during the previous poll for the first time since the third regular-season poll of the 2011 season.
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 21 of the last 23 Big Ten Championships, including three conference titles during that span (1993, '97, '98).
Seniors Mark Beams and Morsi Rayyan, as well as junior Mason Ferlic, were announced as Michigan's tri-captains for the 2013 season on Oct. 14. Beams and Rayyan are each serving as captains for the second straight season.
The 2013 roster features 14 returners from a year ago, including six that were members of the 2012 Big Ten runner-up team.
Last season, Michigan constructed its most successful season since 2008, finishing runner-up at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The Wolverines also qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team for the second consecutive year, placing 23rd. Mark Beams and Morsi Rayyan garnered All-Great Lakes Region and All-Big Ten second team accolades.
THE GIBBY FILES
Head coach Alex Gibby is in his fourth year at the helm of the men's cross country program. In 2012, Gibby guided Michigan to its best season in four years, highlighted by runner-up finishes at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional. He also helped Michigan qualify for the NCAA Championships as a team for the second straight year. Gibby has wasted no time taking the program to the next level as the Wolverines have improved their conference and regional finishes each year under his guidance. The 2012 season marked the first time since 2008 that the top five finishers at the regional meet all earned All-Great Lakes Region honors. At the 2012 Big Ten Championships, Gibby also produced three All-Big Ten performers for the first time since the 2008 season.
Annual Results During the Gibby Era
Friday, Nov. 8 -- at Hoosier Invitational (Bloomington, Ind.), 4 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 15 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Madison, Wis.), Noon CST
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423