Toeing the Line #6: U-M to Compete in NCAA Regional on Saturday
Craig Forys

Nov. 8, 2011

Saturday, Nov. 12 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Toledo, Ohio), Noon
Meet Information

The 19th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will compete at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Saturday (Nov. 12) at the University of Toledo. The 10,000-meter event will kick off at noon at Ottawa Park Golf Course in Toledo, Ohio.

The Big Ten Conference owns the top four spots in the USTFCCCA Division I regional rankings, including recent conference champion and No. 1-ranked Wisconsin, No. 2 Indiana, the third-ranked Wolverines and No. 4 Ohio State. At last year's regional meet, the Maize and Blue improved three spots to seventh place.

Seven harriers will represent Michigan at the Great Lakes Regional in the Wolverines first 10,000-meter race of the season -- fifth-year senior Craig Forys, senior Bobby Aprill, junior Zach Ornelas, junior/sophomore Brendon Blacklaws, sophomore Morsi Rayyan, sophomore Mark Beams and freshman Mason Ferlic.

8,000-Meter Run 10,000-Meter Run
Craig Forys 23:47.0 Craig Forys 30:29.14
Bobby Aprill 23.48.0 Bobby Aprill 30:49.56
Brendon Blacklaws 24:26.0 Brendon Blacklaws 31:56.75
Morsi Rayyan 24:32.0 Zach Ornelas 31:58.17
Zach Ornelas 24:35.0 Morsi Rayyan 32:05.12

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Senior Bobby Aprill
On running individually for the good of the team ... "A lot of it has to do with the team. Coach Gibby always says run the first half with your head and the last half with your heart. A lot of it is setting yourself up in the first half, finding teammates, running with them and being where you need to be in a big multi-hundred person race. In the last half, you find your teammates and you realize that the last half of the race is run for your teammates because you may not be with them, but you know they're out there with you somewhere. You have to do your part in the game and hope that when you cross the line that they're doing theirs too."

On running at 10,000 meters for the first time this season ... "We've been preparing for 10,000 meters all season -- we've just been racing at 8,000 meters until now. I think our team, the way Coach Gibby trains us, is going to be better at 10,000 meters. He really puts a lot of focus on training for the longer distances and preparing for the 10,000 meters that we run at the regional and the national. I think it's going to be an asset for us and it's going to help us over other teams that maybe aren't as fit over the longer distances."

Two top-10 finishes propelled 21st-ranked Michigan to a tie for third place at the 2011 Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30. Fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) and senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) each earned All-Big Ten second team for ranking among the top 12 runners in the conference.

Michigan's five scorers all recorded personal-best times to boost the Wolverines to a five-spot improvement from last year's conference championships. Forys paced the Wolverines to the finish line with an eighth-place performance in a time of 23:47, while Aprill finished just one tick behind him to earn ninth place in 23:48.

Good Sportsmanship -- Junior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS) was named Michigan's Big Ten Men's Cross Country Sportsmanship Award winner by the conference on Nov. 1. Ornelas has been in U-M's top five in four of five meets this season, including two individual wins at the Michigan Open on Sept. 2 and the Illinois Orange & Blue Preview on Sept. 16.

Regional Rewind -- The Wolverines took seventh out of 31 teams at the 2010 Great Lakes Regional -- a three-spot improvement from the year before. Fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) paced Michigan to the finish line, taking third overall. Forys and senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS),who placed 21st, each earned All-Great Lakes Region honors for finishing in the top 25. Forys' performances also earned him an individual trip to the NCAA Championships.

Keys to Qualifying -- The top two teams in each of the nine regions across the country qualify for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. Another 13 teams are awarded an at-large bid, for a total of 31 teams. The NCAA field will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 13. The Wolverines have not qualified for the NCAA Championships since 2008. Fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) is the only current U-M harrier to compete in the national meet during his career. Forys was an individual qualifier for the 2010 NCAA Championships.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Alex Gibby is in his second season at the helm of the men's cross country program. Under Gibby's direction, the Maize and Blue most recently finished third at the 2011 Big Ten Championships -- a five-spot improvement from the year before. He guided seniors Craig Forys and Bobby Aprill to their second consecutive All-Big Ten honors. In his first season, Gibby guided the Wolverines to a seventh-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Great Lakes Regional and produced one NCAA Championship qualifier. Prior to coming to Michigan, Gibby served as the head coach of the William and Mary men's cross country and track and field programs from 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. In 2009, 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 Wolverines worked their way into the NCAA Division I cross country top 30 for the first time this season on Sept. 27 at No. 28, as announced by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association. After a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, U-M continued its climb up to No. 19. The Maize and Blue also remains No. 3 among the Great Lakes Region. [ Poll ]

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.

Monday, Nov. 21 -- at NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.), Noon

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423