The Michigan State women’s cross country team is going to the NCAA National Championship this Saturday for the 15th year in a row. They will join men’s team runner Caleb Rhynard, who automatically qualified with a fourth place finish overall. The girls won a bid to the championships after placing third overall at the Great Lakes Regionals on Friday with a total of 73 points.
While they may have earned a bid to the race this weekend, the team did not do as well as expected at regionals.
“It’s definitely hard coming off a big win like the Big Ten… It may not have turned out how we may have wished… obviously not all of us felt 100 percent that day,” redshirt senior Megan Rodgers said about their regional performance. “We’re just ready to come back like we raced at Big Ten and do it all over again,”
As you some may remember, the women were named the 2013 Big Ten Champions earlier this month. They beat out defending the champion, University of Michigan, by 43 points to clinch their third Big Ten title in four years.
This week in practice, the team has looked to keep things normal and even take off some miles to keep their legs fresh for the weekend race.
“Lots of us have been feeling better as the week has gone one,” redshirt junior Angela Swain said. “After regionals we weren’t feeling the greatest. Practice has helped us loosen up and get back into it.”
With only two returning veterans of this race, redshirt junior Leah O’Connor and redshirt sophomore Lindsey Clark, the team will have to rely heavily on their leadership.
As of November 18, the team was ranked 14th overall and are looking for a top ten finish.
Despite the weight of this race, the women are relaxed and prepared having “rubbed shoulders with all but a few of the teams at this meet,” according to Coach Walt Darth said.
“Because of the amount of runners in a race of this nature, we try to do a lot of pre-race planning,” Darth said.
But the women are trying to keep their strategy the same.
“We like to know where each other are, find each other and work through the crowd together, and that’s our strategy going into this,” Rodgers said.
Alexa McCarthy is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State Cross Country