U-M Women Start Season Strong at Michigan Open

U-M Women Start Season Strong at Michigan Open

Provided by U of M

What You Need to Know

» After a short hiatus last year, the Michigan Open is back for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons. It is one of two races U-M will run at the Hudson Mills Metropark in nearby Dexter this fall.

» Eight Wolverines made their U-M debut this morning: Avery Evenson, Hannah Meier, Lauren Van Vlierbergen, Meg Darmofal, Faith Reynolds, Natalie Baxter, Kieran Gallagher and Sylvie Evarts.

» Today's top two finishers (Erin Finn, Kira Garry) both competed unattached, but just 11 seconds separated finishers three through seven, four of whom were in uniform.

» This meet provides the opportunity for many of U-M's top athletes to shake out their legs in a competitive setting at this early part of the season while newcomers get their feet under them.

Site: Hudson Mills Metropark (Dexter, Mich.)

Event: Michigan Open

U-M Team Finish: Non-scoring

Top U-M Individual: Avery Evenson, 3rd place (17:43.6)

Next U-M Event: Saturday, Sept. 10 -- at Indiana State Sycamore Invitational (Terre Haute, Ind.)

DEXTER, Mich. -- The ninth-ranked University of Michigan women's cross country team kicked off the 2016 campaign in style at the Michigan Open on Friday (Sept. 2), running at Hudson Mills Metropark.

U-M put nine athletes under the 18-minute mark in the 5,000-meter event, led by unattached athletes Erin Finn and Kira Garry. Junior Avery Evenson was the top-finishing Wolverine in uniform in her first career race with the block M on her chest, and head coach Mike McGuire was pleased with the day's effort on the whole.

"Today was a good start for us," said McGuire. "We would always like to group up a little bit better instead of getting in the situation of following each other, but our highlights included Avery, who was outstanding today. That's her first cross country race in four years, and she's obviously a good athlete, so we are excited to have her in the lineup going forward."

The Wolverines competed five athletes unattached, with 22 more running in uniform. During the first 800 meters of the course, Finn took off and built a sizeable lead. Running at her own pace, she blitzed through the one- and two-mile markers, increasing her gap on the field all the while.

She finished the race in 16:44.5, besting the next-closest competitor in the field by 46.6 seconds. It marked a solid return to action for Finn, who has battled to return to form for this fall season after suffering an injury during summer training. In 2014 at the last Michigan Open, the last time Finn ran on this course, she timed a race of 17:01.5.

Garry's race was also encouraging, as her time of 17:31.0 gave her second place, and she was not the only Wolverine to leave McGuire feeling optimistic.

"Ellie Leonard did not surprise me today based on what I saw at camp, so not to downplay any other performances, but (she and Evenson) really stood out for us. We have other athletes who are really good athletes, like Hannah Meier and Rachel Coleman, who ran well today, but they just need a chance to race again. It's a work in progress, but we think we're doing that work with some pretty good people."

Evenson timed 17:43.6 in her third-place showing, and it was made even more special in that today marked her first race in uniform after sitting out the 2015-16 seasons following her transfer to Ann Arbor.

"It was an honor to wear the block M, and it always will be," Evenson said afterwards. "This being my first race (in uniform), it definitely meant something more to me. I was pleased with my performance and pleased with the team's, so I'm really excited to see where the season goes."

An all-region and second team all-conference member, senior/junior Gina Sereno took fourth in 17:50.4, followed by junior/sophomore Ellie Leonard in fifth in 17:51.1 and senior/junior Jamie Morrissey in sixth in 17:52.8. It was an especially positive result for Leonard, who looks to take a step forward into the varsity lineup this fall.

"I was faster than I ran this course at the end of the year last year, which felt amazing," said Leonard. "I did not expect that at all, and it's really crazy to see how far I've come in the last year of training. I'm so excited to be able to step up and contribute more to the team this year."

Unattached freshman Madeline Trevisan was seventh in her collegiate debut, timing 17:54.2 as the top-finishing rookie, while junior/sophomore Claire Borchers (17:58.4), graduate student Erika Fluehr (17:58.6) and senior/junior Jaimie Phelan (18:07.3) rounded out the top 10, a nice birthday gift from Phelan to herself.

Junior/sophomore Sydney Badger, senior/junior Hannah Meier, junior/sophomore Rachel Coleman and sophomore/freshman Lauren Van Vlierbergen were among a number of other solid performances in today's season opener.

U-M gets right back to it next weekend, previewing the NCAA Championships course in Terre Haute, Indiana, with the Indiana State University Sycamore Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 10. The 5,000-meter race will be among the most important of the season, especially early in the month of September, and race time is set for 9:30 a.m.

Top 10 Individual Finishers

1. Erin Finn, UNA (16:44.5)

2. Kira Garry, UNA (17:31.0)

3. Avery Evenson, U-M (17:43.6)

4. Gina Sereno, U-M (17:50.4)

5. Ellie Leonard, U-M (17:51.1)

6. Jamie Morrissey, U-M (17:52.8)

7. Madeline Trevisan, UNA (17:54.2)

8. Claire Borchers, U-M (17:58.4)

9. Erika Fluehr, U-M (17:58.6)

10. Jaimie Phelan, U-M (18:07.3)

Other U-M Finishers

11. Sydney Badger (18:08.1)

12. Hannah Meier (18:19.7)

13. Holly Petrusson (18:26.1)

14. Sarah Zieve (18:42.8)

15. Rachel Barrett (18:44.0)

16. Rachel Coleman (18:46.6)

17. Lauren Van Vlierbergen (18:55.2)

19. Gina McNamara (19:05.0)

21. Kali Dent (19:21.7)

22. Meg Darmofal (19:34.9)

24. Faith Reynolds (19:43.2)

25. Natalie Baxter (19:56.8)

26. Kieran Gallagher (20:10.7)

27. Sylvie Evarts (20:52.2)

Communications Contact: Chad Shepard