MSU - Spartan Cross Country Teams Kick Off Season August 29

MSU - Spartan Cross Country Teams Kick Off Season August 29

Provided by MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's and women's cross country teams will open their 2014 season at the end of this month as both squads will look to build on solid campaigns in 2013. The Spartan women's program took home its third Big Ten Conference Championship in four years on its way to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championship meet, while the men's team made its seventh consecutive appearance at the Great Lakes Regional Championship.

"Our women finished sixth last year at the national meet and were one of the better teams in the country all year," said Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Walt Drenth. "We return everybody, so we have pretty high expectations for that group, and our men are much improved after a great spring."

MSU will begin the season on Aug. 29 at the Jeff Drenth Memorial, hosted by Central Michigan University. The Spartans will follow that up with a West Coast trip to the Bill Dillinger Invitational at the University of Oregon on Sept. 5 before hosting the Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational on Sept. 12 and closing out the month at the University of Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27.

Michigan State will return to action on Oct. 10 to take part in the Michigan Intercollegiate Championships. The Adidas Invitational (Madison, Wisconsin) and the Jayhawk Invitational (Muskegon, Michigan) will both be held on Oct. 18, followed by the Eastern Michigan University Classic in Dexter, Michigan, on Oct. 24.

The Spartan women's team will defend its Big Ten Championship on Nov. 2 in Iowa City, Iowa, prior to the NCAA Regional Championships (Madison, Wisconsin) and NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Indiana) on Nov. 14 and 22, respectively.

"We've got a really good schedule that sets up well for us to be good at the end. The trip to Oregon is a great trip, the trip to Minnesota is a great experience, and the trip to Wisconsin is arguably the best cross country meet in the country," added Drenth. "Those events are all great preparation for the end of the year when we go to the Big Ten and NCAA Championship meets."

On the women's side, Michigan State will lean on First-Team All-Big Ten performers Leah O'Connor and Katie Landwehr in addition to Second-Team selections Lindsey Clark and Rachele Schulist. O'Connor was the runner-up at the 2013 Big Ten Cross Country Championships, followed by Landwehr in fifth place overall, Clark in ninth, and Schulist in 12th.

The Spartan men's team will be led by returning All-American and Big Ten First-Teamer Caleb Rhynard along with fellow upperclassmen Ben Carruthers, David Madrigal, and Alex Wilson. Rhynard placed fourth at both the Big Ten Championship and NCAA Regional meets to qualify for his second straight NCAA Championships, where he finished 34th overall to become Michigan State's first cross country All-American since 1997.

"I think our expectations are high for everyone," stated Drenth. "We've had a number of individuals on both sides that have had quite a bit of success and we're excited to continue that this year."