Oct. 30, 2016
» It is Finn's fifth win of the season, and she led U-M to the 10th Big Ten title in program history, each of which has come under head coach Mike McGuire.
» Overall, the Wolverines had three top-15 finishers, with Gina Sereno (fourth) and Avery Evenson (14th) earning first and second team all-conference honors.
» Five athletes made their postseason debuts for Michigan: Evenson, Madeline Trevisan, Claire Borchers, Hannah Meier and Sarah Zieve.
Site: Minneapolis, Minn. (Les Bolstad Golf Course)
Meet: Big Ten Championships (6,000 meters)
U-M Team Finish: 1st Place (63 points) of 14 Teams
Top U-M Individual: Erin Finn, 1st place (20:37.3)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Nov. 11 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Madison, Wis.), Noon CST
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The sixth-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team rode senior Erin Finn's historic individual championship and three all-conference performers to the conference title during Sunday's (Oct. 30) 6,000-meter Big Ten Championships race hosted by the University of Minnesota at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
The Wolverines are back on top of the Big Ten for the first time since 2012 thanks to the nine-woman championship roster's 63-point effort, which separated them from runners-up Penn State by just seven points in a reverse-mirror result of the 2015 championships, when a five-point gap made the Nittany Lions champions.
"Forty-two years ago we ran this meet in Ann Arbor, and I was a freshman (at Michigan)," said head coach Mike McGuire.
"It was a thrill then, and 42 years later it's actually even more thrilling. I'm so happy for Erin because we've come up short in the team race with her winning the individual title in other years, and it's something we focused on all year. It's a consummate team effort. It's the team, our athletic trainers, it's Bo (Sandoval) and the staff in the weight room. Everybody shares in this. It means a lot to these girls today, but it will mean a lot more 10 years from now. Across the board, it was all nine athletes running today that contributed to this championship."
From the gun, Finn was part of the front pack, and at the mile mark she had developed a lead that only grew. She left the rest of the field between the 2K and 3K marks, splitting almost exactly 10:00 through the first 3,000 meters. She kept pushing the pace until the next-closest runners were out of picture -- figuratively and literally on the Big Ten Network. Finn continued running hard with the field out of sight, averaging nearly seven seconds per mile better than the next-closest competitor. She crossed the finish line more than 25 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Indiana's Katherine Receveur, exhibiting another dominant performance.
Finn's accomplishments are staggering: she is now the first-ever woman to win three non-consecutive Big Ten individual cross country titles in any era, and she is the only athlete to record three individual titles at 6K since the conference switched to that distance in 2005. She is also Michigan's first repeat champion since Katie McGregor (1997-98) and the conference's first back-to-back winner since Wisconsin's Erica Palmer won two 5K titles in 1999-2000. Not since Rebecca Walter in 2003 have the individual and team champions all worn Maize and Blue, as was the case this afternoon. Finally, Finn has led the Wolverines in 19 consecutive races when running in uniform.
"It's definitely an honor," said Finn, "but the most special thing is wearing this (block M) flag with my teammates. I've tried three times to be part of a Big Ten Title-winning team and nothing in the world beats this feeling. There is nothing more special than doing something as a team and being part of a bigger, collective effort. It's the best achievement you can get and just seeing the joy in people's eyes is irreplaceable. It's really a special feeling."
The superlatives behind Finn's title are impressive, but perhaps the most noteworthy anecdote came from McGuire, who said she "has a chance to be the best distance runner in the history of this league."
"She's made a huge imprint on both Michigan and the conference," said McGuire.
From a coach who has guided athletes to three Olympic bids and more than 130 All-America honors, that says a lot. Finn, however, does not. She kept the focus on her teammates like junior/senior team co-captain Gina Sereno and junior Avery Evenson, who both gained several places during hard-nosed run-ins towards the end of the race. Sereno finished fourth, climbing a few places in the end, while Evenson held serve after holding an early front-running position to finish 14th.
"We could see around the 4K mark that Jaimie Phelan had that look in her eyes," said McGuire, "and we knew we were going to make up a lot of points there, and that's exactly what we did."
True freshman Madeline Trevisan and junior/sophomore Claire Borchers rounded out the top seven in 35th and 38th, respectively, and junior Hannah Meier was close behind in 40th. Senior/junior Sarah Zieve placed 54th to keep all nine Wolverines among the top 55 competitors.
Michigan will look to continue a strong postseason with a title defense of last year's NCAA Great Lakes Regional crown. The team will run Friday, Nov. 11, at noon CST at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wisconsin.
1. U-M (63 points)
2. Penn State (70)
3. Michigan State (80)
4. Minnesota (120)
5. Ohio State (130)
6. Wisconsin (138)
7. Purdue (164)
8. Indiana (171)
9. Northwestern (254)
10. Illinois (286)
11. Iowa (318)
12. Maryland (319)
13. Nebraska (349)
14. Rutgers (439)
Top 10 Individual Finishers
1. ERIN FINN, U-M (20:37.3)
2. Katherine Receveur, Indiana (21:02.5)
3. Tessa Barrett, Penn State (21:04.8)
4. GINA SERENO, U-M (21:07.3)
5. Alexis Wiersma, Michigan State (21:07.9)
6. Emma Benner, Purdue (21:08.6)
7. Jillian Hunsberger, Penn State (21:09.3)
8. Madeline Strandemo, Minnesota (21:10.2)
9. Rachele Schulist, Michigan State (21:18.1)
10. Elizabeth Chikotas, Penn State (21:23.8)
Other U-M Finishers
14. Avery Evenson (21:28.1)
19. Jaimie Phelan (21:41.1)
25. Jamie Morrissey (21:51.5)
35. Madeline Trevisan (22:16.5)
38. Claire Borchers (22:18.1)
40. Hannah Meier (22:18.9)
54. Sarah Zieve (22:37.9)
-- Michigan Track&Field (@UMichTrack) October 30, 2016
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard