Nov. 18, 2013
Coming off the program's 10th overall and third straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional title, head coach Mike McGuire recaps the exciting win that moved the Wolverines up six spots to No. 8 in the national rankings. He also provided a preview of the upcoming NCAA Championships, set for Saturday (Nov. 23) in Terre Haute, Ind.
On winning the regional title after finishing second at Big Tens two weeks ago ... "It's a testament to the hard work they've put in and the resiliency they have. They were facing not only the disappointment of not winning the Big Ten and Michigan State being the winning team, but Butler also beating us fairly significantly at Pre-Nationals. So to leap frog over two teams that were rightfully ranked ahead of us going into the meet, is a good stepping stone for us, this week and for the future."
On needing all five scorers to be successful ... "Erin (Finn) has been her steady consistent self over the last three meets and she definitely got us started. Where I knew we were going to be better was Shannon (Osika) having another race under her belt and two more weeks of training as well, subsequent to the Big Ten. She missed time and she missed racing opportunities from the Michigan Open in August to the Big Ten. So obviously that's a pretty tall order to hop in there and expect to be First Team All-Big Ten, and she really wasn't that far off it. So I knew she was going to run well. And then Brook (Handler) stepped up with a race that was commensurate with her abilities and her preparation. We changed a couple things strategy-wise and race-approach wise that really reaped the dividends in the race. Her and Shannon did a great job of running and racing together. Taylor Manett was in that group as well. I thought she was even better at the regional meet than she was at the Big Ten and I felt the Big Ten meet was probably her best race of the year, so that's a young person that's stepping up in the championship part of the season in a tremendous manner. I'd be remissed if I didn't recognize the efforts of Anna Pasternak -- I thought she had a heck of a race at the regional meet. She had a good Big Ten meet, but I thought she had an even better regional meet, particularly for someone who was competing at that level of competition for the first time -- both at the Big Ten and regional meets. She just continues to improve."
On getting another boost of confidence heading into the NCAA Championships ... "We definitely feel it's a stepping stone. We feel that we're an established national-level program and we just want to continue to climb our way up the national level and get up on as high a perch as possible. We realize that it's a process and we realize that as part of the process sometimes there are disappointments that will arise and test you. But if you can bounce back from it and grow form it you can do some pretty good things. We're excited about where things are going into Saturday and we're excited for the future because we have every single person we're taking to the meet back next year. We're not thinking about next year, we're thinking about Saturday, but again, Saturday is a stepping stone to what we want to continue to do as a team."
On Taylor Pogue continuing to lead from the sidelines ... "She's a prime example of a person whose contributions go way beyond what they're going to run in a race, as evidence by the fact that she's a recognized leader and co-captain of the cross country team. It speaks volumes to how she's recognized among her peer group and how she's recognized among the coaching staff. We'd certainly love to have a 6K time with her in there in the last two weeks, but the reality is that we haven't. But her contagious enthusiasm and support of the team hasn't waned one iota."
On his expectations from the team at the NCAA Championships ... "We moved up to No. 8 in the national rankings and you always like to come out at least where you were ranked. We're really focusing more on the effort. And I think if you focus on the effort, the results will take care of themselves. I think sometimes you get caught up with what you might do individually or what your team might do. If you're leaking a little bit of oil during the race, it can get out of hand. That's more of our approach, similar to what we did this past weekend with a couple of our athletes. It was about going out and focusing on the process. We have to go out and do that again, knowing that it's going to be a much higher level of process this weekend than we've had up to this point."
On the team being successful at NCAAs in recent years without any All-Americans ... "Last year was the tightest we've packed up ever in a national meet. Similar to this year, it was a selfless group that didn't get caught up in who was getting it started -- it's just about getting it going after somebody comes in as our first finisher. I really felt from the beginning of this season that we had the personnel to get started a little bit earlier and a little bit lower place at the national meet. We'll see if that comes to fruition on Saturday, but I really think we can get started with someone in an All-American slot, and then we'll see where the chips fall after that if we can pack up."
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423