Toeing the Line #8: U-M Preps for Season-Finale NCAA Championships
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MGOBLUE Shannon Osika (L) and Brook Handler
MGOBLUE
Shannon Osika (L) and Brook Handler
MGOBLUE

Nov. 13, 2012

THIS WEEK
Saturday, Nov. 17
-- at NCAA Championships (Louisville, Ky.), Noon
Live Video

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Race Day Information: Meet Central

The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team will conclude the championship portion of its season at the NCAA Championships, which will be hosted by Louisville on Saturday (Nov. 17). The 6,000-meter race is slated for a noon start, followed by the men's 10K at 1:15 p.m. at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park.

Wolverines in Action
Seven Wolverines will make up Michigan's NCAA squad -- Rebecca Addison, Amanda Eccleston, Brook Handler, Lindsey Hilton, Taylor Manett, Shannon Osika and Jillian Smith. The top five finishers will count toward U-M's team score and the top 40 overall finishers will earn All-America honors.

WOLVERINE BITES

• The championship field features 31 teams, including the top two teams from each of the nine regions around the country, as well as 13 additional teams that earned an at-large bid. An additional 38 runners also qualified individually by recording the four highest finishes on teams that did not qualify at their respective regional meet. [ Championship Field ]

• Four Big Ten teams will represent the conference at the NCAA Championships, including No. 6 Michigan, No. 9 Penn State, No. 13 Michigan State and No. 25 Minnesota.

• Michigan has earned a trip to the NCAA Championships in each of the last 11 years, finishing as high as third (2006) during that span.

• The Wolverines finished 15th at last year's national meet -- their best finish since 2006 (3rd).

• The top 40 individual finishers at the NCAA Championships earn All-America honors. Michigan's last All-American was Kaitlyn Peale in 2009.

• Michigan previewed the 6,000-meter NCAA championship course at Louisville on Oct. 13 at NCAA Pre-Nationals.

• U-M won the 2012 Big Ten and NCAA Great Lakes Region championships. The last time the Wolverines won both championship meets in the same year was 2005.

• The Wolverines return seniors Rebecca Addison and Jillian Smith, as well as sophomore Brook Handler from last year's national lineup.

• After beginning the season at No. 12 in the USTFCCCA National Coaches Poll, the Wolverines continued to climb and are ranked sixth in the country in the most-recent poll, released Nov. 13.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Brook Handler
Sophomore
Rochester Hills, Mich.

On finishing strong at the NCAA Championships ... "We all have to have our best race at the same time -- the biggest part of cross country is everyone doing well the same day. Mike (McGuire) said it before and I think he would say it again, that we still haven't had out best race yet, where all five of us are able to put it together on the same day. Hopefully we do that on Saturday."

On the biggest differences from this time a year ago ... "I think for myself, I didn't know what to expect at nationals last year. I went in really, really nervous and let the course intimidate me. I let it influence my race more than I should have. I think this year I'll be more able to run with my teammates. We'll do a much better job of packing up and moving through this year, as opposed to last year. We have a lot more people that can run together than we did last year."

On previewing the NCAA course at Pre-Nationals ... "I think it's really helpful. One of the things we learned about the course is that it has a lot of curves. You would not realize that just running the course the day before, how much the turns would slow you down. We got to see that so we'll know what to do when we get to those spots. I'm happy that we got to see all the technicalities of the course since Mike (McGuire) also takes us to preview the championship courses."

On their race strategy ... "Most likely we'll try harder to run together because when there are so many people -- there are hundreds of girls -- it's easier to get lost or get swallowed up. The most important thing for us to do is stay together and that will help us stay engaged. When one person goes by, it's going to be dozens of people going by at the national meet if you lose focus."

On finishing strong for the team's four seniors ... "That's really important. I feel that I've learned so much from Becca (Addison), Lindsey (Hilton), Jill (Smith) and even Amanda (Eccleston). I really can't imagine running without them next year and I don't want to think about it, but I want to do everything I can to end on a high note and for our seniors to go out with a bang. They are really amazing seniors and I can't say enough about how I am grateful to be teammates with them."

LAST TIME OUT
U-M captured its second straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional title and ninth in program history at the regional meet on Friday (Nov. 9). All five Wolverine scorers finished the 6,000-meter race in a 31-second split, within the top 15 runners, earning All-Great Lakes Region honors. Senior Jillian Smith paced the Wolverines to the finish line, recording a career-best fourth-place finish.

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423

   

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