Spartans flourish at Nuttycombe 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/Track & Field Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — A bevy of personal bests were set by Michigan State cross-country runners at the Nuttycombe Invite on Friday, Oct. 14. 

Held in Madison, Wisconsin, the Nuttycombe Invite featured elite talent on both the men’s and women’s sides. The No. 17 Spartan women finished in 18th place out of 36 teams with 530 points. 

The No. 27 Spartan men took 23rd place out of 33 teams with 608 points. 

No. 1 North Carolina State and No. 2 New Mexico tied for first on the women’s side, but the win was given to the Wolfpack after comparing the placement of each team’s top-five finishers. No. 2 Stanford won on the men’s side.

Fifth-year senior Katie Osika continued her trek to become the team’s number-one scorer this season by finishing first for the Spartans and 37th overall in the championship race. Osika recorded a personal-best time of 20:25.7, the third time she’s broken the 21-minute barrier in her career.

Osika’s performance on Friday mirrored her last two full cross-country seasons. In 2019 and 2021, Osika ran her regular-season best time at the Nuttycombe Invitational, just as she did this year. 

Junior Makenna Veen was the other top-100 finisher for the Spartan women, taking 96th place with a personal-best time of 20:53.5. That was her second-career time breaking the 21-minute barrier. 

Graduate transfer Grace Molloy, sophomore Kaitlyn Hynes, senior Lauren Freeland, sophomore Kate Stewart-Barnett and junior Taylor Visscher rounded out the Michigan State top-seven. Freeland’s time of 21:14.6 was good for a PR. 

Senior Judy Rector led the Spartan women in the B race with a 21:38.8 personal-best time, good for 30th place. Junior Eleanor Kendell, junior Fatima Giron, sophomore Olivia Millen, junior Madison Price, senior Abigail Lee, senior Elizabeth Dalrymple, senior Alison Ziehl, sophomore Abbey Carvey, and junior Madelynn Bean were the other Michigan State finishers, in that order. 

Kendell (38th) and Giron (47th) were the other two top-50 finishers for a Michigan State squad that took seventh out of 10 teams. 

On the men’s side, star freshman Riley Hough made his debut as a Spartan after running unattached in every other meet this season. 

Hough led the Spartan men in the championship race, taking 81st place with a time of 23:58.3. Hough was the only top-100 finisher for Michigan State, and the only one to break the 24-minute barrier. 

Graduate student Abdifetah Ahmed continued his strong season with a PR time of 24:04.1. Ahmed has been a top-two finisher for the Spartans in every meet he’s raced this season. He finished 102nd overall. 

Graduate transfer CarLee Stimpfel also made his official debut for Michigan State, running a time of 24:17.4 to take 135th place. Senior Aden Smith, grad student Fraser Wilson, grad student John Petruno and junior Owen Huard completed the top-seven for the Spartan men. Wilson, Petruno and Huard all set personal-bests. Smith finished four seconds off his career-best time, set two weeks prior at the Roy Griak Invite. 

In the B race, junior Alexander Penski led the Spartan men in 41st place with a time of 24:55.2. Junior Andrew Lane, senior Jeremy Kloss, sophomore Drew Seabase, junior Luke Perelli, junior Hunter Zartman and sophomore Gage Killewald rounded out the Spartan finishers. The group took 15th out of 15 teams.

Like the Spartan women, the men’s team flashed a lot of individual talent against a highly competitive field. Plenty of Spartans ran their best races of the season at this meet. For some, it was the best race of their career. 

With most schools running as close to full capacity as they have all season – especially Michigan State – the Spartans got a good look at potential postseason competition. 

Michigan State will travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to compete in the Eastern Michigan Invitational. The meet will serve as the final regular-season test before the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 28.