MSU - Spartan Cross Country Set for Big Ten Championships

MSU - Spartan Cross Country Set for Big Ten Championships

Provided by MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State’s No. 19 men’s program and No. 21-ranked women’s cross country team kick off the 2015 championship season on Sunday, Nov. 1, at the Big Ten Championships in Chicago on the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course. The men’s 8,000-meter race begins at 11:45 a.m., while the women’s 6,000 goes off at 12:45 p.m.

“With the way we have raced, I feel like there is a good sign of momentum,” said Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Walt Drenth. “The young group has been running well, and the top group is excited to race. We need to manage ourselves and take care of the details we can control. We have to not be afraid of getting out of our comfort zone, and we should be able to compete.”

Senior Caleb Rhynard, who was an All-American in 2013, has only raced at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite this season, where he finished with a time of 24:33.2. Rhynard was fifth at last year’s conference championships.

Junior T.J. Carey has stepped into a lead position for much of the season, pacing the Spartans at the Roy Griak Invitational, where MSU took first with a combined effort of 74 points, and at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite. The Spartans took 12th as a team in Madison, but had the lowest margin of time between runners in a field that featured 20 ranked teams at 14.8 seconds.

“Having a good one-to-five and one-to-seven split is important, but you have to be with the right people for that to be effective,” Drenth said. “We want to be competing with the top teams.”

The women harriers head into Sunday as defending Big Ten champions, having won four of the past five league titles. Junior Alexis Wiersma has a pair of top-10 finishes this season, including taking second place at the Spartan Invite. Wiersma had a team-best 25th-place finish at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite on Oct. 16 with a time of 20:13.2.

Recently returning to the Spartans’ top group is senior Katie Landwehr, who was third on the team at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite. Last season, she set a career-best time of 20:37.20, while placing 17th at the Big Ten Championships.

“We see progress every day in practice and snapshots in races,” said Drenth. “There has been growth everywhere, and they have been applying the lessons we have talked about all season.”

The Big Ten Cross Country Championships will be carried on BTN via tape delay at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 12.