MSU - Cross Country Concludes Season at NCAA Championships

MSU - Cross Country Concludes Season at NCAA Championships

Provided by MSU

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Michigan State men's and women's cross country teams raced in the last meet of season as they competed among the top-ranked teams in the nation at the 2012 NCAA Championships. The women ended their season with a 16th-place team finish with 422 points, while the men placed 31st with 755 points.

"It's a privilege to run at the national meet," said director of cross country/track and field Walt Drenth. "I'm really proud of both groups for having earned the right to be here. At the risk of sounding cliché, nobody's happy unless they win the last race. So we walk away with mixed feelings about the meet."

In the women's 6,000-meter race, junior Sara Kroll was the top MSU runner, clocking in at 20:24.2 for 53rd overall. Next to cross the finish for the Spartans was junior Julia Otwell, who finished 113th with a time of 20:52.7.

"It's a little bittersweet today," said Kroll. "My first 4,000 were really strong. I don't know what happened, because mentally I was ready for this race. I just didn't have my legs under me and I didn't feel very strong. I lost a lot of people. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be an All-American today. But I still have one more season, so I'm really looking forward to improving next year."

Redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor finished in 20:55.5 for 122nd, while redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane crossed the finish line in 21:00.2 for 131st. Rounding out the MSU runners was redshirt freshman Lindsey Clark (143rd-21:03.6), redshirt junior Olivia Sydow (154th-21:08.9) and redshirt sophomore Emma Drenth (184th-21:25.2).

"We took some early chances with the women. They probably went out a little bit faster than we needed to go, but we took some chances. We wanted to be engaged with the front group. We could have raced conservatively and had the same outcome, but took a chance to be in the top ten and it just didn't end up that way. They put their heart and soul out there and that's all you can ask of them."

Taking home the women's team crown was Oregon with 114 points. Iowa State senior Betsy Saina finished first overall in the race with a time of 19:27.9.

In the men's 10,000-meter race, redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard was the first Spartan to cross the finish line with a career-best time of 31:10. 40, good for 158th overall. Redshirt sophomore David Madrigal was the next MSU runner to finish, placing 180th with his career-best time of 31:26.4.

"It feels great to be here at NCAAs, " said Rhynard. "It was packed, but it was a lot of fun. I'm just so glad we made it. I think I did alright. We were going back and forth at the half way point, and finished before too long. I couldn't find a lot of guys; it's hard with so many people out there. But I think the team did ok overall."

Redshirt senior Josh McAlary finished 187th with a time of 31:30.1, while redshirt sophomore Ben Carruthers stopped the clock in 31:36.4, good for 195th. Redshirt sophomore Alex Wilson crossed the finish 202nd, posting a time of 31:44.3. Redshirt seniors Isaiah Vandoorne (225th) and Ben Miller (226th) both clocked in at 32:10.40 to round out the Michigan State runners.

"I think both teams did a nice job throughout the season to get here to be able to run at NCAAs, " said assistant coach Lisa Senakiewich. "We talked to both teams about how it is a watershed moment, and I think that's true for where both the men and women are going to go from here. The women were 16th and that's great, but we think they can be better than that. I think it's the first step of many to come and I think they are going to grow from here."

Oklahoma State claimed the team crown with a score of 72 points. Kennedy Kithuka from Texas Tech blew away the competition and the course record to finish first with a time of 28.31.3.