Friday, Aug. 29 -- host Michigan Open (Dexter, Mich.), 10 a.m.
The University of Michigan women's cross country team, having earned its first preseason No. 1 ranking in school history, will begin the 2014 season on Friday (Aug. 29), hosting the annual Michigan Open at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter, Mich. The non-scoring 5,000-meter race, which will start at 10 a.m., is followed by the men's race at 10:30 a.m. Admission to Hudson Mills Metropark is $7.
Top Returning Times
*Indicates time run in 2011
The Wolverines were tabbed No. 1 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Cross Country Coaches' Preseason Poll. The Wolverines are one of five Big Ten institutions ranked among the nation's top 30, including Michigan State (No. 6), Wisconsin (No. 16), Minnesota (t-25) and Penn State (No. 29). Under head coach Mike McGuire, U-M has been ranked in the preseason poll in each of the last 12 years.
Michigan will be led by 23rd-year head coach Mike McGuire, who earned his eighth Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honor in 2013.
The Wolverines return 19 runners from last season with competitive experience representing U-M, including all seven from last year's fourth-place 2013 NCAA Championships team. Senior captain Brook Handler and juniors Shannon Osika and Taylor Manett return as U-M's core that helped capture the third consecutive Great Lakes Regional crown for the Maize and Blue.
For the first time under McGuire, the Wolverines will have four captains this season. Second-year captains Brook Handler and Taylor Pogue are joined by fellow seniors Alexandra Leptich and Megan Weschler in their leadership roles.
Michigan's 2014 roster features 26 runners who have not competed in uniform for Michigan, including 14 true freshmen and nine redshirt freshmen. The Maize and Blue also welcome three transfer students: Olivia Brackett (Colgate University), Kassidy Clark (University of Wisconsin) and Sophie Linn (University of Mississippi) to the fold.
Sophomore Erin Finn returns as U-M's most decorated runner from a year ago. The All-American was U-M's top runner at nationals last season with her 30th-place finish. She earned All-Great Lakes Region honors after her second-place finish in the NCAA Regional and also became the third freshman in Big Ten history to win the individual conference title, collecting Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors along the way, in addition to being named to the All-Big Ten first team.
Including Finn, the Wolverines return nine total runners with championship race experience. Senior Megan Weschler and juniors Shannon Osika and Taylor Manett were All-Big Ten second team in 2013, and were joined by Finn and senior Brook Handler as part of the All-Great Lakes Region team.
In each of the last three seasons, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year has worn the Maize and Blue, with Taylor Pogue earning the honor in 2011 and Shannon Osika collecting the award in 2012, before Erin Finn earned the honor in 2013.
Michigan's strength in recent years has been the tight splits between its top runners. U-M's top four runners posted just a 27-second split at the Great Lakes Regional last season and a 23-second split at the NCAA Championships.
The squad reported to campus last week and departed for camp Aug. 20 at the U-M Bio Station in Pellston, Mich. When they lace their shoes up in Dexter, the Wolverines will be fresh off an eight-day trip to Northern Michigan, where they trained and bonded as a team and were joined by the men's program.
HEAD COACH MIKE MCGUIRE
Under the tutelage of 23rd-year head coach Mike McGuire, the Maize and Blue enters the 2014 season coming off a third consecutive NCAA Great Lakes Regional Title and the highest finish at NCAA Championships (fourth) since 2006. McGuire's teams have improved their standing in both events each season since 2009.
During his tenure, the Wolverines have won nine Big Ten titles with as many NCAA Regional crowns. In 2013, McGuire was honored with his eighth Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year award. Michigan has accumulated 18 top-two finishes at the Big Ten Championships, 17 top-two finishes at NCAA Regionals and 11 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships over the past 22 seasons with McGuire at the helm.
Michigan's Recent Annual Results Under McGuire
According to Coach McGuire
On camp at the U-M Biostation ... "We've had a good week. We had a day of hard training on Wednesday with our veteran group and we're healthy right now and we are making progress. It's been a good, productive week up to this point."
On his team managing high expectations ... "We just work on getting better every day and continue to focus within the group. There are expectations and recognition that has been placed on us, but we still have to go out and get the job done and we know that."
On assessing the team's leadership group so far ... "They are doing a great job. The four of them have been together a long time and they've done a good job here at camp. I fully expect that they'll carry that into the regular season and I think we're in pretty good shape in that regard."
On his goals for the Michigan Open ... "We are going to really try and work our packs in a cohesive way; we are basically just running ourselves aside from a few open competitors in the race. It looks like the weather is going to be good as well, so some of the challenges we've faced in recent years with the heat and humidity look like they won't be presenting themselves this year, and that is always a good sign. That will avail us the opportunity to run a little bit harder."
Saturday, Sept. 20 -- at Black & Gold Invitational (Iowa City, Iowa)
Friday, Sept. 26 - at Bean Town Battle (Boston, Mass.)
Contact: Chad Shepard