Toeing the Line #6: Wolverines to Vie for Big Ten Title This Sunday

Oct. 26, 2011

Event Preview | Danielle Tauro Interview

Sunday, Oct. 30 -- at Big Ten Championships (Champaign, Ill.), 11:45 a.m. CDT
Meet Information

The 19th-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team will kick off the postseason at the Big Ten Championships on Sunday (Oct. 30) at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. The 6,000-meter race is set to start at 11:45 a.m. CDT at UI's Arboretum.

The Wolverines are the second-highest ranked conference team heading into the championship weekend. Only No. 15 Michigan State, the 2010 Big Ten champion, sits ahead of the Maize and Blue. Two other Big Ten teams made it into the national top 30 in No. 26 Penn State and No. 27 Iowa.

Michigan's championship lineup will include junior Rebecca Addison, freshman Brook Handler, junior Lindsey Hilton, freshman Ellen Junewick, senior Mary Grace Pellegrini, sophomore/freshman Taylor Pogue, junior Jillian Smith, fifth-year senior Danielle Tauro and sophomore/freshman Megan Weschler.

The Wolverines concluded the regular season at the annual 5,000-meter EMU Fall Classic on Oct. 21. Michigan placed three runners in the top 25, while the entire squad finished in the top 45 in a field of 72. Junior/sophomore Chloe Prince (Okemos, Mich./Okemos) used a course-best time of 18:33.08 to pace the Maize and Blue to the finish line, placing 11th overall. Three other runners also set new personal records at Hudson Mills Metropark.

On having experience on the Big Ten course ... "The course is pretty flat with just one hill in it, which is probably suited to the type of athletes that we have. We had a lot of success down there last month so we hope we can parlay that with some of the training that we've done in the last month and see what we can do on Sunday."

On having a variety of experience in the lineup ... "I feel we are pretty tested. We are going to run four freshmen, either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, but the other five are battle tested. Danielle Tauro, Rebecca Addison and Jill Smith have been tested at a very high level both in cross country and track during their tenure here at Michigan. We're going to bank on them for their experience and they will kind of put the freshmen under their wings. The freshmen are pretty good, so I think we'll be fine. We've got a good mix."

On who he expects top performances from ... "I think we have two or three people who are capable of first team All-Big Ten performances. Danielle (Tauro) was fourth last year and I feel she's running at a higher level this year. It's just a matter of is the conference running at a higher level. Rebecca Addison I really feel is at a different level than she was at last year. She's coming off an outstanding track season and gained a lot of confidence with that going into cross country. Taylor Pogue is another possibility. We definitely have to get it started with some low cards at the start."


Trial Run -- The women's squad got a preview of the Big Ten course on Sept. 16 at the Illinois Orange & Blue Preview, where the Wolverines came away with the team and individual titles. The Wolverines secured the top-six spots en route to a perfect score. Fifth-year senior Danielle Tauro (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) ran a personal-best 6,000-meter time of 20:19 to take first overall. Michigan's entire Big Ten lineup was a part of that victory, with the exception of junior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional),who missed the first three meets due to illness.

Leaders of the Pack -- Five of the nine members of this year's conference championship lineup were a part of the 2010 Big Ten runner-up team. Tauro paced the Maize and Blue to the finish line, placing fourth to earn All-Big Ten first team. Smith finished 12th to garner All-Big Ten second team.

The second-place run in 2010 was Michigan's best finish since winning five straight conference titles from 2002-06. Overall, U-M has eight conference titles (1992-94, 2002-06), which have all come under Coach McGuire's watch.

Seasoned Winners -- Michigan has not placed lower than third as a team this season. The Maize and Blue won team titles at the Illinois Orange & Blue Preview and the Greater Louisville Classic. In their toughest competition of the season at NCAA Pre-Nationals, the then-18th ranked Wolverines took third ahead of No. 4 Colorado. In five meets during the regular season combined, Michigan placed 17 runners in the top 10.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Mike McGuire is in the midst of his 20th season as head coach of the Michigan women's cross country team. During his tenure, the Wolverines have won eight Big Ten titles and six NCAA Regional crowns. McGuire has been honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year on eight occasions and has been named NCAA Regional Coach of the Year five times. Under McGuire, Michigan has posted 15 top-two finishes in 19 seasons at the Big Ten Championships, 13 top-two finishes at NCAA Regionals and eight top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships.

In a repeat NCAA Division I cross country poll, the Wolverines are ranked No. 19 as released Tuesday (Oct. 25) by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). As the second-highest of four Big Ten Conference schools featured in the national rankings, U-M sits in the No. 3 spot among the Great Lakes Region.

Michigan cross country/track is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (michigan_track) with up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond. Twitter is a free casual, online social network that is designed to connect businesses, organizations and individuals. Each Twitter post (or "tweet") can be received on a user's cell phone via text or on the web.

Saturday, Nov. 12 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Toledo, Ohio), 1 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 21 -- at NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.) 1 p.m.

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423