Aug. 29, 2012
Friday, Aug. 31 -- host Michigan Open (Dexter, Mich.), 2:30 p.m.
The 12th-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team will kick off its 2012 season on Friday (Aug. 31), hosting the annual Michigan Open at the Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter, Mich. The women's 5,000-meter race is slated for a 2:30 p.m. start.
2011 Rewind -- In 2011, the Wolverines had their most successful season since 2008 in terms of postseason success. Michigan finished runner-up at the Big Ten Championships, matching its performance from the previous year. The team went on to win the Great Lakes Regional by a 32-point margin and capped the season with a 15th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Head coach Mike McGurie was named Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career, while recent graduate Danielle Tauro earned Regional Athlete of the Year for winning the individual regional title. Tauro and Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven HS) earned All-Big Ten first team accolades for finishing in the top seven at the conference meet, while senior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional HS) and junior/sophomore Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich) landed spots on the second team. Pogue also collected Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year.
Familiar Faces -- Michigan returns all but one of its scorers from last year's squad, including All-Big Ten first team selection Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven HS) and All-Big Ten second team members Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional HS) and Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich). Pogue also earned Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year as the highest freshman finisher at the conference meet. Also returning from last year's scorers are Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt), Lindsey Hilton (Rochester Hills, Mich./Adams), Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester) and Ellen Junewick (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern).
Introducing the Newcomers -- Michigan added 10 freshmen and one transfer to the cross country roster this fall. Expected to make an immediate impact for the Wolverines are freshman Taylor Manett (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) and graduate student Amanda Eccelston (Adrian, Mich./[Tecumseh), whowas named the 2012 Division II National Indoor Female Track Athlete of the Year after winning national titles in the 800- and 1,500-meter run. Manett recorded a runner-up finish at the 2011 Michigan Division I High School Cross Country Championships and was a Foot Locker National finalist.
Also expected to contribute this season is freshman Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott), who enrolled at Michigan in January and had a successful indoor track and field season, earning All-America second team honors in the mile and distance medley relay.
Calling the Shots -- Head coach Mike McGuire begins his 21st season as head coach of the Michigan women's cross country team. During his tenure, the Wolverines have won eight Big Ten titles and seven NCAA Regional crowns, including the 2011 regional title. McGuire has been honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year on eight occasions and was named NCAA Regional Coach of the Year for the sixth time in 2011. Under McGuire, Michigan has posted 16 top-two finishes in 20 seasons at the Big Ten Championships, 15 top-two finishes at NCAA Regionals and nine top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships.
Leaders of the Pack -- Seniors Rebecca Addison and Jillian Smith will lead the Wolverines as team captains in 2012 for the second consecutive season, while fellow senior Lindsey Hilton (Rochester Hills, Mich./Adams) was selected as a tri-captain for the first time. The trio has been a part of Michigan's varsity squad during each of the last three seasons, helping the Maize and Blue to its best season since 2008 last year.
On the Rise -- Under head coach Mike McGuire's guidance, the Wolverines have improved their postseason finishes at the Big Ten Championships, NCAA Great Lakes Regional and NCAA Championships each year since 2009. The team constructed its best season since 2008 last year, finishing runner-up at the conference meet, capturing the regional title and capping the season with a 15th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Michigan has been topped by Michigan State at each of the last two Big Ten Championships but dominated the field at last year's regional meet, which included the Spartans. The 2012 conference meet will take place at Michigan State's Forest Akers Golf Course.
Michigan's Annual Results
Preseason Preparations -- The squad reported to campus on Aug. 20 and departed Aug. 22 for team camp at the U-M Bio Station in Pellston, Mich. The Wolverines will spend nine days in Northern Michigan training and bonding as a team in preparation for the start of the 2012 season.
According to Coach McGuire
On what preseason camp means for the team ... "It's a great time. We get a chance to get a couple dozen of us together at a great site. The U-M Bio Station staffs are gracious hosts and it's a tremendous setting to kick off the season. We can get hard work in, we have the ability to train on some really good trails and some soft surface sites and then it's a beautiful part of the state. It really gives us a chance to have a balance between motivating ourselves for the onset of a successful season and the freshmen having a chance to bond with the rest of the team. We get to do some fun things -- we go over to Mackinac Island every year, but there is always a work component to it first so we go over there first to run and then to get a little sightseeing in. It provides us with the perfect balance to start the season."
On what makes this year's team special ... "I think it starts with good leadership at the top with Jill Smith and Becca Addison. They'll do a good job in their running performance but also taking care of the daily things that are required among a peer group. There is an important element of mine from the coaching standpoint, but it's really a matter of getting a group of people to mesh, so I feel we've got the right people to do that."
Michigan women's cross country is on Facebook. Connect with the program, alumni and fans by clicking the "Like" button at facebook.com/michiganwomenstrack. Also, be sure to follow the team on Twitter (@umichtrack) for up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond.
IN THE POLLS
The Wolverines enter the 2012 campaign with the No. 12 ranking in the NCAA Division I cross country preseason poll, released Tuesday (Aug. 28) by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). As the highest of four Big Ten Conference schools featured in the top 30, U-M also owns the top spot the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region preseason poll.
Friday, Sept. 14 -- at Spartan Invitational (East Lansing, Mich.), Noon
Saturday, Sept. 29 -- at Rim Rock Farm Classic (Lawrence, Kan.), 10 a.m.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423