U of M Women - Wolverines Take Fifth at Pre-National Invitational

U of M Women - Wolverines Take Fifth at Pre-National Invitational

Provided by U of M

Kyle Terwillegar

Site: Louisville, Ky. (E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park)

Event: Pre-National Invitational

U-M Team Finish: 5th place of 43 teams (235 points)

Top U-M Individual: Jamie Morrissey, 12th (20:06.0)

Next U-M Event: Friday, Oct. 20 -- at Eastern Michigan Fall Classic (Dexter, Mich.)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With the championships phase of the season upcoming, the No. 4 University of Michigan women's cross country team has extra motivation for a strong postseason run after a fifth-place team finish at the Pre-National Invitational on Saturday (Oct. 14).

Led by the latest career-best run in Jamie Morrissey's breakthrough fifth-year senior campaign, the Wolverines scored 245 points in a performance they will use as fuel for the postseason run-up to when they return to this same E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park course in just over a month for the NCAA Championships.

"We're aware of the fact that we've got to correct some things," head coach Mike McGuire said, "but we've had instances in the past when we've underperformed at this meet and then bounced back, so we feel confident that we can right the ship going forward."

Defending national champion Oregon took the victory with 63 points, followed by No. 1 Colorado (91), No. 9 Arkansas (148) and No. 19 Utah State (214). The Wolverines just edged out No. 29 Georgia by one point.

A year ago, the Wolverines were third in this meet before going on to miss the national team title by one point as national runners-up.

Though the result was not what the team had in mind heading into the day, several standout individual performances emerged as bright spots.

Morrissey took 12th in 20:06.0 on the six-kilometer (3.73-mile) course, leading the Wolverines for the second consecutive weekend. After coming through the four-kilometer split point in 32nd place, she made up 12 spots by the five-kilometer split -- on the hilliest portion of the course, no less -- and ran down eight more opponents in the final kilometer.

She's had a great summer of preparation, and confidence builds confidence so she's stringed together several high-level races," McGuire said. "She's stepping up to the next stage in high-level races, and so I just like where she's at going into the championship portion of the season."

Fifth-year senior Gina Sereno was 22nd, redshirt junior Claire Borchers took 33rd (20:28.9), sophomore Madeline Trevisan was 85th (21:03.2), and redshirt junior Avery Evenson was 93rd (21:10.2) to round out the Wolverines' scoring lineup.

Sereno went out with the lead pack early and consistently hovered around the high teens or low 20s throughout the duration of the race to set the tone.

Borchers ran strong over the final kilometer of the race to move up to 33rd in what was, like Morrissey, the latest in a string of career-best races. Using the downhills of the course's homestretch and her steeplechase strength, she picked off six opponents on her way to the finish line.

In the open race, fifth-year senior Sarah Zieve took ninth to lead Michigan to a third-place finish in the secondary race. Running as high as third heading into the final third of the race, Zieve crossed the line in 21:16.17.

Rounding out the lineup were Ellie Leonard in 27th, Rachel Barrett in 29th, Audrey Belf in 51st and Micaela Degenero in 73rd.

One more regular-season tune-up remains for select members of the team at Friday's (Oct. 20) Eastern Michigan Fall Classic, but the team's focus will now shift toward a postseason run.

The Wolverines will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, for the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 29, followed by the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 10 and the NCAA Championships on Nov. 18.

"We are capable of winning Big Tens, but we realize there are a few other teams that are also capable," McGuire said. "So we're going in as less of a prohibitive favorite than we may have in other years, but we've excited for the opportunity. I think we'll build on the good things that we've done going into the Big Ten."