Nov. 23, 2013
Site: Terre Haute, Ind. (LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course)
Meet: NCAA Championships (6,000 Meters)
U-M Finish: 4th Place of 31 Teams (215 points)
Top U-M Individual: Erin Finn, 30th (20:40.3)
Next U-M Event: Season Complete
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Freshman Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) finished 30th to become the first Wolverine All-American since 2009, as the No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team raced to a fourth-place team finish at the NCAA Championships on Saturday (Nov. 23) at LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course. It is the program's highest finish since 2006 (3rd) and ties for the third-highest ever.
This marks the fifth overall and second straight top-five finish at the NCAA Championships for head coach Mike McGuire, as U-M improved one spot from its fifth-place finish in 2012.
Despite falling more than once in the first 4,000 meters, Finn gained ground within a very compact lead pack. She advanced six spots between 2K and 4K, taking over 22nd place. She was unable to hold her position down the final straightaway but remained within the top 40 to earn All-America honors, placing 30th in 20:40.3.
Sophomore Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) worked hard navigating through the congested field between the 2K and 4K mark, improving 34 spots to locate teammate junior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester). The two worked together until the final straightaway of the race when Osika's strong kick allowed her to chase down several runners, including her own teammate, sophomore Taylor Manett (Rockford, Mich./Rockford). Osika and Manett crossed the line almost simultaneously in a time of 20:56.6, placing 56th and 57th, respectively. Manett got out fast and settled into 56th place by the 2K mark and held steady for the entirety of the race.
After working with Osika, Handler kicked down a hand full of runners in the final 100 meters to finish 64th overall in a time of 21:03.4.
Junior/sophomore Anna Pasternak (Brighton, Mich./Hartland) scored for Michigan for the first time in her career, placing 105th in a time of 21:20.6. She surpassed 52 runners between the 2K and 4K mark and passed another nine in the final 2,000 meters to help U-M secure the victory.
Senior/juniors Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) (21:41.8) and Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline) (22:13.2) rounded out Michigan's championship squad, finishing 159th and 212th, respectively.
In addition to their podium finish at the national meet, the Wolverines also finished the 2013 championships season with a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships and defended their third straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional title.
Top 10 Team Standings
1. Providence 141 2. Arizona 197 3. Butler 200 4. MICHIGAN 215 5. Georgetown 226 6. Michigan State 236 7. Colorado 265 8. Florida State 278 9. Virginia 283 10. New Mexico 301
Top 10 Finishers
1. Abbey D'Agostino, Dartmouth 20:00.3 2. Emma Bates, Boise State 20:03.9 3. Kate Avery, Iona 20:05.4 4. Aisling Cuffe, Stanford 20:09.3 5. Emily Lipari, Villanova 20:10.8 6. Colleen Quigley, Florida State 20:11.3 7. Emily Sisson, Providence 20:17.5 8. Shelby Houlihan, Arizona 20:20.9 9. Shalaya Kipp, Colorado 20:21.7 10. Kelsey Santisteban, California 20:21.7
Other Michigan Finishers
30. Erin Finn, U-M 20:40.3 56. Shannon Osika, U-M 20:56.6 57. Taylor Manett, U-M 20:56.6 64. Brook Handler, U-M 21:03.4 105. Anna Pasternak, U-M 21:20.6 159. Megan Weschler, U-M 21:41.8 212. Alex Leptich, U-M 22:13.2
N O T E S
The No. 8-ranked Wolverines finished ahead of five teams that were ranked ahead of them heading into the NCAA Championships -- No. 3 Arkansas, No. 4 Florida State, No. 5 Colorado, No. 6 Georgetown and No. 7 Iowa State.
Freshman Erin Finn became the first Michigan All-American since Kaitlyn Peale in 2009. She is also just the third freshman in program history to earn the honor, joining twin sisters Deanna and Pauline Arnill in 1994.
Michigan has recorded 12 top-10 finishes in program history, 11 of which have come during head coach Mike McGuire's tenure. Five of those finishes under McGuire have been top-five performance, including fifth in 2012 and fourth in 2013.
All seven member of Michigan's fourth-place squad are from the state of Michigan.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Mike McGuire
On the team effort it took to finish fourth place ... "I just really proud of them because it's easy to talk about effort, but following through on it, particularly on a day like today, they did a tremendous job of carrying out what we talked about doing. I couldn't be prouder of them."
On getting Michigan back on the podium ... "It's a tremendous feeling and a fitting reward for their efforts and their resiliency. We had a lot of things go on this year with fighting through some injuries and some things that are more important in life than injuries. We rallied the troops so I just couldn't be more proud of the process."
On Erin Finn's consistent contributions to the team ... "She's done a great job. She wouldn't be where she is leading us without the guidance of her teammates. They've done a great job of helping her navigate through things. She did a heck of a job today because I saw her go down 750 meters into the race and I guess she went down a couple other times so she was a true champion out there today."
On other outstanding individual efforts ... "Taylor (Manett) was outstanding. She stuck her nose in there right from the onset and just fought really, really hard all the way. I thought Shannon (Osika) and Brook (Handler) did a good job of grouping up and then (Megan) Weschler was a little off form at six, but Anna (Pasternak) really stepped up for us at number five. She had a lot to do with getting us on the podium. Anna has really come a long way in the last year so to finish her season with her two best races of the year, I'm very proud of that and excited about where her future is with the track and cross country teams over the next couple of years."
On how he sums up the success of this season ... "It's been a lot of fun. As I get older, I appreciate what it took to get there as much as getting there. They're the type of people who really challenged each other, yet they supported each other. They were willing to take chances -- take chances in races and in workouts -- and kind of be 'the little engine that can.' We've got a lot of those kids in the program now and it bodes well for what we hope to do in the future. This group is all back next year. Next year is another chapter, another season, but I don't think that this is the type of group that will rest on any laurels."
U-M Freshman Erin Finn
On the team's fourth-place finish ... "It means a ton. In the tent after the race, when we had absolutely no idea about our place, we were all gathered around, falling over onto each other, we were all just really proud of each other. We didn't even care what place we had gotten. We were so proud that we had fought through the whole season, through that really tough race. Coming out and hearing we were fourth was so cool. It shows that hard work really does pay off and if you preserve through the trials and tribulations, something good will come out of it."
On everyone doing their part today ... "It was essential today. I think that's what propelled us to a fourth-place finish, because other teams didn't have girls stepping up. These conditions played to the University of Michigan's strengths. We train in this really tough stuff and we're strong. We train together as a team and that's something that obviously helps a lot. Every person keeping going through the cold, through the mud, through the wind, that's what got us to a podium finish. It was not a single person, it was everybody, and other teams may not have been as team focused as we were."
On capping an outstanding freshman season as an All-American ... "It's meant a ton. I can't believe that I went from not being sure if I was going to run in August to being an All-American. It's been a crazy ride, but I've been helped so much by everyone on the team. They've been there for me and it's cool because for the last few meets I feel like I've been there for them and that's meant even more to me."
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423