U of M Women - Toeing the Line #2: Wolverines Set for Big Ten Preview

U of M Women - Toeing the Line #2: Wolverines Set for Big Ten Preview

Provided by U of M


Saturday, Sept. 20 -- at Big Ten Preview (Iowa City, Iowa), 8 a.m. CDT

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After two weeks off from competition, the first-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday (Sept. 20) to compete in the Big Ten Preview. The women's non-scoring 6K race will begin at 8 a.m. CDT, followed by the men's race at 8:30 CDT, at Ashton Cross Country Course.

Athletes in Action: Laura Addison, Erin Finn, Corinne Florie, Brook Handler, Devon Hoppe, Alexandra Leptich, Taylor Manett, Gina McNamara, Hailey Middlebrook, Jamie Morrissey, Darby Middlebrook, Courtney Munley, Shannon Osika, Anna Pasternak, Taylor Pogue, Gina Sereno, Jillian Smith, Megan Weschler and Sarah Zieve

Top Returning Times

5,000-Meter Run 6,000-Meter Run

Shannon Osika 17:01.5 Erin Finn 20:09.0

Erin Finn 17:01.5 Shannon Osika 20:25.0

Taylor Pogue 17:04.38* Brook Handler 20:27.0

Brook Handler 17:35.8 Erin Finn 20:33.00*

Shannon Osika 17:44.09 Taylor Pogue 20:34.0* *Indicates time run in 2011


• Saturday's meet will serve as a preview of the Big Ten Championships course for the Wolverines, as the conference event will be hosted by Iowa on Sunday, Nov. 2.

• The Big Ten preview meet will also feature conference opponents Iowa and Wisconsin, in addition to Kansas State. The Badgers (No. 16) and Wolverines are the only nationally ranked teams competing in the event.

• Michigan has previewed the Big Ten Championships course in each of the last three seasons, winning the event in 2011 at Illinois and securing four top-10 finishes at the non-scoring event in 2012 at Michigan State before winning last year's Purdue Invitational and placing five runners in the top six.

• Several Wolverines have found success at the early conference event. Fifth-year senior Taylor Pogue led the way for the Maize and Blue last year at Purdue, while sophomore Shannon Osika was U-M's top finisher at the Spartan Invitational in 2012, placing third. At the 2011 Illinois Orange and Blue Preview, senior/juniors Taylor Pogue and Megan Weschlerfinished third and fourth, respectively.

• The Big Ten Preview will be the first 6K race of the season for the Wolverines after competing in the 5K Michigan Open (Aug. 29).

• Michigan will be led by 23rd-year head coach Mike McGuire, who earned his eighth Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honor in 2013.

• For the first time under McGuire, the Wolverines will have four captains this season. Second-year captains Brook Handler and Taylor Pogue are joined by fellow seniors Alexandra Leptich and Megan Weschler in their leadership roles.

• The Wolverines were tabbed No. 1 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Cross Country Coaches' Preseason Poll for the first time in school history (Aug. 26). The Wolverines are one of five Big Ten institutions ranked among the nation's top 30, including Michigan State (No. 6), Wisconsin (No. 16), Minnesota (t-25) and Penn State (No. 29). Under head coach Mike McGuire, U-M has been ranked in the preseason poll in each of the last 12 years.

• The Maize and Blue retained that top ranking this week, when the first regular-season coaches' poll was announced (Sept. 16).

• On Sept. 2, Shannon Osika earned the Big Ten's first Athlete of the Week honor this season, after stretching her title defense to three consecutive runnings of the Michigan Open (Aug. 29) in a collegiate-best time of 17:01.5, an improvement of more than 43 seconds from her win at the event in 2013.

• Sophomore Erin Finn returns as U-M's most decorated runner from a year ago. The All-American was U-M's top runner at nationals last season with her 30th-place finish. She earned All-Great Lakes Region honors after her second-place finish in the NCAA Regional and also became the third freshman in Big Ten history to win the individual conference title, collecting Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors along the way, in addition to being named to the All-Big Ten first team.

• Including Finn, the Wolverines return nine total runners with championship race experience. Senior Megan Weschler and juniors Shannon Osika and Taylor Manett were All-Big Ten second team in 2013, and were joined by Finn and senior Brook Handler as part of the All-Great Lakes Region team.

• The Wolverines return 19 total runners from last season with competitive experience representing U-M, including all seven from last year's fourth-place 2013 NCAA Championships team. Senior captain Brook Handler and juniors Shannon Osika and Taylor Manett return as U-M's core that helped capture the third consecutive Great Lakes Regional crown for the Maize and Blue.

• In each of the last three seasons, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year has worn the Maize and Blue, with Taylor Pogue being given the honor in 2011 and Shannon Osika collecting the award in 2012 before Erin Finn earned the title last year.

• The Maize and Blue welcomes three transfer students to the 2014 roster: Olivia Brackett(Colgate University), Kassidy Clark (University of Wisconsin) and Sophie Linn (University of Mississippi) to the fold.

• In each of the last three seasons, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year has worn the Maize and Blue, with Taylor Pogue earning the honor in 2011 and Shannon Osika collecting the award in 2012, before Erin Finn earned the honor in 2013.

• Michigan's strength in recent years has been the tight splits between its top runners. U-M's top four runners posted just a 27-second split at the Great Lakes Regional last season and a 23-second split at the NCAA Championships.


• Under the tutelage of 23rd-year head coach Mike McGuire, the Maize and Blue entered the 2014 season coming off a third consecutive NCAA Great Lakes Regional Title and the highest finish at NCAA Championships (fourth) since 2006. McGuire's teams have improved their standing in both events each season since 2009.

During his tenure, the Wolverines have won nine Big Ten titles with as many NCAA Regional crowns. In 2013, McGuire was honored with his eighth Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year award. Michigan has accumulated 18 top-two finishes at the Big Ten Championships, 17 top-two finishes at NCAA Regionals and 11 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships over the past 22 seasons with McGuire at the helm.

Michigan's Recent Annual Results Under McGuire

Year Big Ten Regional NCAA

2009 4th 3rd 27th

2010 2nd 2nd 22nd

2011 2nd 1st 15th

2012 1st 1st 5th

2013 2nd 1st 4th


Flanagan Megan Weschler

Fifth-year Senior

On the overall improvement of the group since they left for camp in late August ... "We can see the progress from camp to now; we're just that much better since we've been having a few really good weeks of training. Every week there has been a huge improvement. We started a new lifting program recently as well, and that was making us sore at first, but we've been pushing through and seeing the benefits."

On having four captains' voices in the locker room this season ... "It's a lot more helpful to have four of us, especially having such a strong team this year. We have forty girls on the team so I think it's appropriate to have four co-captains. It's pretty helpful when it comes to logistical things like lifting. We each have our group of people that we look over and make sure everyone has the correct form and that they're doing the exercises correctly. It's that much more helpful having extra sets of ears and eyes when it comes to leading this team."

On the heavy roster competition pushing everyone to be their best ... "It makes everyone train that much harder. Everyone has fuel for the fire and is working just as hard as the next person to get those really competitive spots on varsity and make the national team. It's a good thing for the team overall, even the girls that aren't necessarily varsity or traveling right now, because it makes them look forward to the opportunities they'll have in years to come."


Saturday, Sept. 26 -- at Coast-to-Coast Bean Town Battle (Boston, Mass.), 3 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 18 -- at NCAA Pre-Nationals (Terre Haute, Ind.)

Contact: Chad Shepard