MSU - Wiersma, Ruiz Earn All-Big Ten Accolades

MSU - Wiersma, Ruiz Earn All-Big Ten Accolades

Provided by MSU

CHICAGO, Ill. – Junior Alexis Wiersma and sophomore Clark Ruiz earned All-Big Ten accolades to lead Michigan State’s cross country program to a pair of top-five team finishes. The No. 21-ranked women’s team finished third, as the No. 19 men were fifth.

“In both instances, with Ally (Alexis) and Clark, it is an example of what we are teaching,” said Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Walt Drenth. “We teach to embrace the growth and not to worry about the outcome, but to just get better. You could see it happening with Ally and Clark all spring and into the summer.

“We can’t make excuses, but we got more in us. We did many things right but started a little too far back. I believe as a group that we can be highly competitive. Clark exemplified what we could do as a group. He ran the third-fastest last final 1,000 meters of anyone in the race. We have four or five guys capable of doing the same.”

Wiersma paced the women’s team with a second-place finish. Wiersma was one of three runners in the 122-person field to break the 20-minute mark. She clocked a 19:49.9 after holding second place from the 4K mark on. Wiersma earned All-Big Ten honors for the second time is as many years.

“Ally (Alexis) was outstanding. She has been a great leader all year and kept her poise,” Drenth said. “The whole team kept moving through the field as Ally moved into second place. It is hard to hold that gap, but she kept playing offense, which is hard to do. Ally continues to condition herself and isn’t being distracted by things she can’t control. Her leadership was so important for everyone else to see her run well and keep her poise.”

Junior Shelby Jackson was the second Spartan to finish, crossing the line in 20:31.2 for 17th. Senior Kate Landwher made her second appearance of the season, finishing in 24th with an effort of 20:51.3. Freshman Amber Way’s 20:59.9 placed her 30th, while sophomore Aubrey Wilberding rounded out the Spartans’ top five with a 21:03.6 for 33rd.

Freshman Lynsie Gram finished in 21:09.5 for 38th, as sophomore Kelsie Schwartz was 47th with a time of 21:16.7.

The MSU women’s program boasts 19 All-Big Ten runners since 2010.

Ruiz earned his first All-Big Ten honors, finishing the 8K course in 23:52.8 for 13th place and second-team accolades. He worked his way through the field, moving up 29 spots between the midway point and the finish line.

In just his second race of the season, senior Caleb Rhynard finished 21st out of the 102-man field. Rhynard followed Ruiz’s lead by steadily moving through the field. After opening the first 4K in 11:48.1, he finished in 24:02.2. Rhynard was the first of three-consecutive Spartans to cross the line within one second. Junior T.J. Carey finished in 24:02.4 to take 22nd, as junior Sherod Hardt was 23rd with a time of 24:02.7.

Junior Nick Soter rounded out MSU’s top five with a 34th-place performance. Soter clocked a 24:17.3. Sophomore Max Benoit was 42nd, finishing in 24:30.0, while freshman Ryan Robinson was 53rd in 24:43.0.

MSU’s one through four runners were within 10 seconds of each other.

“It was as admirable an effort of any that we have seen in years,” said Drenth of the women’s team effort. “A lot has gone against them in losing personnel, but they just kept racing. We will go to regionals though ready to race and accomplish our objectives.”

Michigan State’s championships season continues on Nov. 13 in Madison for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships.