U-M Women Captures Team Title at Battle in Beantown
Provided by U of M
Site: Boston, Mass. (Franklin Park)
Meet: Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown (5,000 Meters)
U-M Team Finish: 1st Place of 18 Teams (55 Points)
Top U-M Individual: Erin Finn, 2nd (16:51)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Oct. 18 -- at NCAA Pre-Nationals (Terre Haute, Ind.)
BOSTON, Mass. -- The top-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team placed a trio of runners in the top 10 to secure a team victory at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown on Friday (Sept. 26). The 5K event was held at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass, and featured six nationally ranked programs, including the Wolverines.
Led by a two-three finish from freshman Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) and junior Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott), the Maize and Blue won the meet with 55 points. Finn completed the race in 16:51, and Osika crossed the finish line at 17:03.
In an exceptionally large field, real estate was hard to come by at Franklin Park. Elbows rubbed frequently, especially after the wide-open starting line grew narrow by the 300-meter mark. Finn and Osika jumped out into the first group to pace U-M and did not look back.
Finishing behind the Wolverines' top duo, senior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester) completed the race in 17:14 to earn an eighth-place finish, with fifth-year senior Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Wyandotte) securing 15th place overall with a time of 17:25.
Fifth-year senior Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich) crossed at 17:41 to finish in 27th place, with junior Taylor Manett (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) crossing the finish line two seconds later to finish in 29th. Rounding out the top seven for the Maize and Blue was fifth-year senior Alexandra Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline), whose time of 17:58 earned her a 41st-place finish.
The Wolverines will take a three-week break from competition before returning to action next month at the NCAA Pre-Nationals. The race is slated for Saturday, Oct. 18, in Terre Haute, Ind., the site of the NCAA Championships for nine of the past 10 seasons.
1. MICHIGAN 55
2. Georgetown 77
3. Syracuse 134
4. Boston College 192
5. Dartmouth 207
6. Providence 211
7. New Hampshire 244
8. Harvard 250
9. Cornell 254
10. Duke 259
11. Eastern Michigan 267
12. Lipscomb 285
13. Columbia 286
14. Connecticut 306
15. Stony Brook 308
16. Johns Hopkins 389
17. Northeastern 435
18. Rhode Island 527
Top 10 Finishers
1. Liv Westphal, Boston College 16:30
2. ERIN FINN, U-M 16:51
3. SHANNON OSIKA, U-M 17:03
4. Katrina Coogan, Georgetown 17:07
5. Taylor Spillane, Cornell 17:09
6. Dana Giordano, Dartmouth 17:11
7. Victoria Voronko, Eastern Michigan 17:14
8. BROOK HANDLER, U-M 17:14
9. Lauren Sara, Connecticut 17:15
10. Jessie Petersen, Syracuse 17:17
Other U-M Finishers
15. Megan Weschler 17:25
27. Taylor Pogue 17:41
29. Taylor Manett 17:43
41. Alexandra Leptich 17:58
60. Jaimie Phelan 18:10
68. Devon Hoppe 18:14
74. Corinne Florie 18:18
80. Jamie Morrissey 18:22
Anna Pasternak DNF
N O T E S
• The combination of Erin Finn, Shannon Osika and Brook Handler has finished 1-2-3 among Wolverines in each of this season's events. Finn was the first to cross the finish line in Maize and Blue at the Big Ten Preview (Sept. 20) and at today's Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown, while Osika finished first at the Michigan Open (Aug. 29). Handler was the third Michigan runner to cross in each of U-M's three races thus far.
• The Wolverines have finished in first place at both of their two scoring events this season, winning the Big Ten Preview (Sept. 20) with a near-perfect 16 points before taking the crown at today's Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown with 55 points.
• In both their wins, U-M has placed at least three runners among the field's top 10, with Finn, Osika and Handler cracking that mark today and seven different Wolverines doing so at the Big Ten Preview (Sept. 20).
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Mike McGuire
On the team's performance overall ... "We ran solid. Two races in six days may have been a little ambitious, in hindsight, but we still came out okay. Shannon (Osika) had a very strong race, and Brook (Handler) had a real strong finish as well. We got another real sound race out of Megan Weschler. Erin (Finn) was solid, too, but the Boston College girl was outstanding today. Being on her home course I think she was pretty fired up. As far as what we can improve on, we have to shore things up a bit between our fourth and seventh score. I think we are capable of doing that."
On the setup at Franklin Park ... "The course was fast because they haven't had any rain. It was actually pretty dusty because they are having the opposite of what we've been encountering in the Midwest. It looks like they are in a drought out here, so it was quite dusty, particularly with that big of a field. The course has a lot of turns and it's a little bit hard right now. It doesn't look as hard when you're warming up on it but it's a challenging course. It was sneaky warm today, too. I'm happy we ran before the guys today."
On racing against such a large field with other nationally-ranked teams for the first time this year ... "The large field created a different set of dynamics that we haven't encountered up to this point, so there is always an adjustment to that. The pace was really fast early. We haven't been out that fast yet this year, so for some it was a little bit of a shock to their system. Today will prepare us for the championship part of the season because pre-nationals will be the same. The flow of this course dictates that you have to get out quickly because it gets narrow 300 meters into the race. We won't have quite as pinched-in a feeling when we go down to Terre Haute in three weeks. We have to be adaptable to all race situations and when paces are fast, you always run that arm wrestling match to be in control of the race instead of having the race controlling you."
U-M Junior Shannon Osika
On the pace of the race and how she attacked the course ... "The goal was to come out a little faster. Firstly, because the distance is only 5K, and secondly because I tend to go out more conservatively and then pick it up as it goes. I wanted to see what I was capable of, so I went out hard and tried to maintain, especially because it was a big field. The course narrows down pretty quickly, so I wanted to get away from the mess and the field and it worked out well. I was off the lead path, but I was still up there and it wasn't a very messy race, so I had space to do my thing. I was kind of scared when I heard the first mile times -- I think it was around 5:12, so that's definitely on the faster end, but I just tried not to panic and luckily that worked out because there were girls from the lead pack that dropped back so I was in a position where I could pick them off and that was helpful, because I always had someone to look at and try to go catch. That was motivating, and it was nice to know Erin was up there. I could see her basically the whole time, so that was a comfort, too."
On getting a chance to run with so many other ranked programs ... "That was great. It was good experience and I think that will really help us for pre-nats and nationals because there are going to be a lot of fast girls there and it's nice to get used to running in a pack and having different colored shirts around you to go catch. It's really helpful and beneficial. It is just a 5K, so it's nice that we won, but we are not going to leave the meet too confidently. It's one race and we have to make sure we keep it up so we are ready for the next few big races."
On where this year's team is at for this point of the season compared last year ... "We have a little more experience under our belts, and we are always a driven team but I think we are all very aware of what is in reach for us this year. It's still early in the season, but we are all pretty fit and motivated. We just have to see what happens, and that's part of the fun to be honest. You never really know. You can gauge it in workouts, but that is so different from races. There are so many different factors that are going to change the outcome. I'm confident in this team and I believe we are going to do very well."
Contact: Chad Shepard