MSU - Spartan Cross Country Races Past Several Top Teams

MSU - Spartan Cross Country Races Past Several Top Teams

Provided by MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 15-ranked Michigan State men’s cross country team beat out a pair of top-ranked teams, finishing 12th at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., on Friday. The No. 13 women’s team combined for a 14th-place finish.

“We met our objective pretty well,” said Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Walt Drenth. “We got better and learned a lot. One of the reasons we ran this meet is to get points for nationals, and we did a nice job of that. The men handled themselves well in a very good field and beat several ranked teams. The women managed a lot of challenges well. There is room for growth, but (Alexis) Wiersma has done a great job, along with Shelby Jackson, of leading the team.”

The men’s team combined for a score of 404 points. The Spartans were bested by only one Big Ten foe, No. 8 Michigan, while beating out No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 16 Indiana, Illinois and Penn State.

Juniors TJ Carey and Sherod Hardt paced MSU over the 8,000-meter course, coming in 54th and 60th, respectively. Carey clocked a 24:13.3, while Hardt was in close pursuit with a 24:14.9. Both harriers averaged 4:53 per mile.

Freshman Ryan Robinson was the third Spartan to cross the line, running a 24:25.2. MSU continued to run well off one another, as sophomore Max Benoit finished just four spots back of Robinson in 96th, completing the course in 24:26.1. Junior Clark Ruiz stayed within contact of his teammates, turning in a 24:28.1.

Making his 2015 debut, senior Caleb Rhynard averaged 4:57 per mile to finish in 24:33.2. Rhynard was an All-American in 2013 and earned All-Big Ten and All-Regional plaudits in 2014.

“Caleb has done an unbelievable job of keeping positive and training, while recovering and using cross-training methods to get better,” Drenth said. “He knows how to race, and you could see him work his way out of trouble in a couple of spots today.”

Junior Chris Collier rounded out MSU’s top seven, clocking a 23:43.2.

“The men competed well in a stacked field and beat some outstanding teams,” said Drenth. “As a team they did a nice job and found each other, which is a sign of good depth.

No. 2 Syracuse took home the men’s title, placing three runners in the top six for a score of 101. No. 9 BYU finished in second with 186, as the Wolverines rounded out the top three with 218.

On the women’s side, junior Alexis Wiersma impressed by leading the Spartans for the first time this season, clocking a 20:13.2 to finish 25th. Junior Shelby Jackson was the second MSU runner to finish the 6K course, finishing in 63rd with an effort of 20:36.9.

“Ally (Alexis Wiersma) will continue to grow and is ready to take that next step.” Drenth said. “She has done an unbelievable job of leading and developing.”

Senior Katie Landwehr made her season debut for the Spartans, finishing 79th with a time of 20:46.7. Sophomores Kelsie Schwartz and Raquel Serna continued to run well, clocking a 21:06.4 and 21:23.4, respectively.

“It was meaningful to have Katie Landwehr back,” said Drenth. “Kelsie Schwartz did nice job of running through the field.”

Top-ranked New Mexico finished first with a score of 32 points, placing four runners in the top 10. Arkansas finished second with 188 points, and Virginia rounded out the top three with 217 points.

“The next two meets are so much different, and the whole group will grow,” Drenth said. “We had couple of younger runners do well in the open race. If they get in and race with us come conference and regionals, they will make us better. That depth is important and someone may step up.”

In the men’s open race, a trio of Spartans finished in the top 10, led by senior Andrew Cusmano’s 24:41.1 for sixth. Juniors Nick Soter and Garret Zuk crossed in seventh and eighth, respectively, running a 24:44.8 and 24:48.9.

Sophomore Aubrey Wilberding finished in fourth in the women’s open race with a time of 21:08.8, while junior Molly Jeakle battled for a spot in the top 10, crossing in ninth with a 21:14.6. Freshman Jenny Rogers ran a 21:34.3 for 15th.

Michigan State returns on Oct. 23 at the Eastern Michigan Fall Classic in Ypsilanti, Michigan.