Toeing the Line #2: Michigan to Test Big Ten Course at Purdue
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MGOBLUE

Sept. 10, 2013

• The Team Behind the Team: Volunteer Assistant Erica Murdock

THIS WEEK
Friday, Sept. 13 -- at Purdue Invitational (West Lafayette, Ind.), 6 p.m.

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Race Day Information: Course Map PDF | Course Information

After a week off from competition, the 17th-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., on Friday (Sept. 13) to compete in the Purdue Invitational. The women's non-scoring 6K race will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the men's 8K at 6:30 p.m. at the Boilermaker Cross Country Course.

Athletes in Action: Laura Addison, Gabriella DeFlorio, Erin Finn, Brook Handler, Devon Hoppe, Alex Leptich, Taylor Manett, Gina McNamara, Hailey Middlebrook, Shannon Osika, Anna Pasternak, Megan Pearson, Taylor Pogue, Heather Price, Brittany Robinson, Victoria Waidley, Megan Weschler.

Top Returning Times
5,000-Meter Run 6,000-Meter Run
Taylor Pogue 17:04.38* Taylor Pogue 20.34.00*
Brook Handler 17:44.53* Brook Handler 20:36.70
Megan Weschler 17:48.28* Shannon Osika 20:38.00
Anna Pasternak 17:49.30 Taylor Manett 20:52.90
Shannon Osika 17:56.00 Megan Weschler 21:05.00*

* Indicates time run in 2011

WOLVERINE BITES

• Friday's meet will serve as a preview of the Big Ten Championships course for the Wolverines, as the conference event will be hosted by Purdue on Sunday, Nov. 3.

• The Big Ten preview meet will also feature conference opponents Illinois, Ohio State and Purdue. Michigan is the only nationally ranked team competing in the event.

• Michigan has previewed the Big Ten Championships course in each of the last two seasons, winning the event in 2011 at Illinois and securing four top-10 finishes at the non-scoring event in 2012 at Michigan State. Sophomore Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) was U-M's top finisher at last year's Spartan Invitational, placing third. At the 2011 Illinois Orange and Blue Preview, senior/juniors Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich) and Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) finished third and fourth, respectively.

• The Purdue Invitational will be the first 6K race of the season for the Wolverines. Races will remain at that distance for the rest of the season, with the exception of the 5K EMU Fall Classic (Oct. 25).

• On Sept. 3, Shannon Osika earned the Big Ten's first Athlete of the Week honor this season, after defending her title at the Michigan Open Aug. 30 in a collegiate-best time of 17:44.09.

• After redshirting in 2011 and missing the 2012 season due to injury, senior/junior Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline) returned to the course at the Michigan Open (Aug. 30), finishing 10th in 18:49.94. Leptich was a member of the Big Ten Championships squad as a freshman in 2010.

• Sophomore/freshmen Heather Price (Holland, Mich./Saugatuck),Gina McNamara (Northville, Mich./Northville) and Brittany Robinson (Fenton, Mich./Fenton), as well as junior/sophomore Megan Pearson (Paw Paw, Mich./Paw Paw), made their collegiate debuts at the Michigan Open on Aug. 30.

• The Wolverines were tabbed No. 17 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Cross Country Coaches' Preseason Poll (Aug. 27). The Wolverines have begun 18 of the last 19 seasons ranked in top 30 in the preseason poll -- U-M received votes at the start of the 2002 season. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Taylor Pogue and junior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester) were selected to represent Michigan as team captains for the 2013 season.

• The Wolverines are under the guidance of 22nd-year head coach Mike McGuire, who earned his ninth Big Ten Coach of the Year and seventh Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honor in 2012.

• The Wolverines return 17 runners, including five from its 2012 Big Ten Championship squad. Junior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester) and sophomores Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) and Taylor Manett (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) return as U-M's core that helped lead the Wolverines to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

• Michigan's 2013 roster includes 11 true freshmen who have not competed in uniform yet this season. Freshman Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield), who is a two-time state cross country champion and the 2013 North America, Central America & Caribbean (NACAC) champion as a member of Team USA, is expected to make an immediate impact for the Wolverines.

• The Wolverines are coming off their best season since 2006, winning the program's ninth Big Ten title and their second straight Great Lakes Regional crown and capped the season with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Shannon Osika returns as U-M's most decorated runner from a year ago, as she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and also earned All-Big Ten second team and All-Great Lakes Region honors. Taylor Pogue joined Osika on the All-Big Ten second team, while Brook Handler earned a spot on the All-Region squad.

• In each of the last two 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.

• Michigan's strength in 2012 was its tight split between its five scoring runners. U-M's five scorers posted a 31-second split at both the Big Ten Championships and Great Lakes Regional and split an incredible 22 seconds at the NCAA Championships, including a 12-second split between the top four scorers.

HEAD COACH Mike McGuire
• Under 22nd-year 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 2006 last year, winning the Big Ten and Great Lakes Region titles and capped the season with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

During McGuire's tenure, the Wolverines have won nine Big Ten titles and eight NCAA Regional crowns, winning both in 2012. In 2012, McGuire earned his ninth Big Ten and seventh Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honors. Under McGuire, Michigan has posted 17 top-two finishes in 21 seasons at the Big Ten Championships, 16 top-two finishes at NCAA Regionals and 10 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships.

Michigan's Recent Annual Results Under McGuire

Year Big Ten Regional NCAA
2008 5th 1st 16th
2009 4th 3rd 27th
2010 2nd 2nd 22nd
2011 2nd 1st 15th
2012 1st 1st 5th

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

B. Handler Brook Handler
Junior
Rochester Hills, Mich.

On the Michigan Open as the first test of the season ... "I think we were all a little tired. I feel like this year's camp was probably the hardest we've work as a team. We worked really well together -- I'm not saying that in past years we didn't work hard, but I think everybody was really ready to replace those spots that we lost to graduation. Everyone was really ready to do as well as we did last year, even though we don't have those talented seniors up front anymore. We want to replace them, so everyone has been working really hard to do that. It's been awesome to watch."

On being named a co-captain with Taylor Pogue ... "It was a huge honor. I was definitely surprised and excited. I love this team and I love helping everyone on the team. I want everybody to be the best they can be and I want to make sure people are reaching their potential the way that best works for them. In the past I felt like everyone thought they had to do things a certain way, but I want this team to be able to adapt and be more individualized. If girls need to do their run at a different pace or only run a certain amount of miles a week, I want to embrace the differences that everyone needs to train. In the past we kind of all did the same thing and it may not have worked perfectly for everybody. So that's something we're really trying to focus on this year is everyone training the way that's best for them."

On previewing the Big Ten course at Purdue ... "That's something that coach Mike (McGuire) feel really passionate about, is seeing the course before hand and I think it makes a big difference. It makes the course go by much faster when you know how much you have left, what points you can surge at and what points you can make moves at. I'm really happy that we always preview the Big Ten and nationals course. I'm really excited to see some more Big Ten competition this season."

On several girls getting race experience this weekend ... "I think that will be really exciting. I think this summer has been cool because since we lost so many seniors, we didn't know who was going to be on varsity this year. I think it's awesome that we're having our big meet be one of the first meets so we can see who worked hard this summer and who is going to step into those roles. You can tell from practice -- some people practice much better than they race and some people race much better than they practice. I'm excited to see what the 7-12 girls do."

On participating in the Student Ambassador Program ... "For a long time track and field has been involved in the Student Ambassador Program. I saw Danielle Tauro and Allison Liske do that my freshman year and now Alex Leptich and Megan Weschler also are involved. I thought it was a great thing to be involved in. I had the privilege of taking a group onto the field at the Michigan-Notre Dame football game last weekend. It was so exciting to feel the energy and the excitement. It's also been great for networking and meeting new people. I'm trying to take advantage of the opportunity to network within the athletic department as well."

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Saturday, Oct. 5 -- at Rim Rock Farm Classic (Lawrence, Kan.), 10 a.m. CDT
Saturday, Oct. 19 -- at NCAA Pre-Nationals (Terre Haute, Ind.), Time TBA

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423

   

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