MSU cross country to open 2022 season at Jeff Drenth Memorial Invitational


MSU cross country runner Fatima Giron leads a pack of Central Michigan runners during a meet/ Photo Credit: Central Michigan Athletic Communications

Jake Lyskawa, Cross Country Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State cross country team is set to open its 2022 season at the 37th Annual Jeff Drenth Memorial Invitational in Shepherd, Michigan on Friday, Sep. 2.

The meet is named after former Chippewa cross country All-American Jeff Drenth, who passed away in 1986 at the age of 24. He was the brother of 16-year Michigan State coach Walt Drenth, who coached at CMU before arriving in East Lansing. 

Unlike most meets this season, the men and women will run 5000 meters, as opposed to the usual NCAA-standard 8000 meters for men and 6000 meters for women.

The meet will provide program director Lisa Breznau and her team with a tune-up opportunity to begin the season. With a shorter distance and less competition than most meets, this one usually serves as a way to gauge a handful of Michigan State’s younger athletes, some of whom have never run at the collegiate level. 

Sophomore Kaitlyn Hynes could lead the pack of Spartan women on Friday. Hynes was named the 2021 Big Ten Women’s Cross Country Freshman of the Year. She also earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors after placing 12th at the conference championships last season. 

Following the graduation of All-Americans Jenna Magness and Lynsie Gram, Hynes, along with seniors Katie Osika, Lauren Freeland and others, will be tasked with maintaining the Spartan women’s competitive status within the Big Ten. The group placed third at the conference championships last season, their fourth-consecutive top-three finish.

The Spartan women also finished 16th at the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Florida.

On the men’s side, top high school recruit Riley Hough from Hartland, Michigan, could make his collegiate debut in Friday’s race. Other likely contributors include sophomores Patrick Byrnes and Jack Pennewell, the latter of whom won last year’s race.

The Spartan men will be without All-American Morgan Beadlescomb for the first time in six seasons. Graduate transfer CarLee Stimpfel from Saginaw Valley State and graduate students Abdi-Fetah Ahmed and John Petruno will look to fill the void left by Beadlescomb. Petruno is coming off a strong outdoor track season, in which he took third place in the 1500m at the 2022 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and advanced to the finals of the 1500m at the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The Spartan men finished in 30th place at the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships. 

The Central Michigan women finished sixth in the Mid-American Conference Cross Country Championships last season, while the men finished seventh. The Chippewas did not send any runners to the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

In last season’s iteration of the meet, the Michigan State women had seven finishers in the top 10, led by current junior Emily Bardwell. The Spartan men placed nine in the top 10 spots. 

The Michigan State women opened the season ranked 21st in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches Poll, while the men ranked 28th. 

The women race at 11 a.m. on Friday, while the men start at 11:35 a.m. Following Friday’s action, the Spartans will head to Ann Arbor on Friday, Sep. 9, to compete in the Big Ten Preview.