MSU women’s cross country wins Big Ten Championship; men’s team secures top-five finish


MSU women’s cross country finish first at EMU Fall Classic/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Jake Lyskawa, Track and cross country beat reporter

EAST LANSING — For the third time in four seasons, the Michigan State women’s cross country team are Big Ten Champions. The No. 23 Spartans scored 78 points to secure victory on Friday in Ann Arbor, beating second-place Michigan (86 points) and third-place Wisconsin (94 points).

Michigan State has recorded top-three finishes at the Big Ten Championships for five consecutive years. This is Lisa Breznau’s second conference title since assuming the director role in 2020. This is the program’s ninth Big Ten title. 

Michigan State was led by Katie Osika, who finished in second place thanks to a PR time of 20:04. The senior finished just four seconds behind Ohio State’s Addie Engel for the individual title. 

The First Team All-Big Ten honoree Osika came through the first mile in 5:39, good for 12th place at that point. She slowly but surely worked her way up, picking off a couple of Michigan and Wisconsin runners before eventually taking the lead by mile three. Engel passed Osika down the stretch, but Osika held strong for her best finish at the Big Ten Championships. 

Osika’s second-place finish was the highest a Michigan State woman has placed at the Big Ten Championships since Alexis Wiersma took second in 2015. 

Osika has dropped time in every race she has run this season. She’s firmly established herself as Michigan State’s top runner heading into the remaining postseason meets this season. 

Following closely behind Osika was junior Makenna Veen, who ran a personal-best time of 20:27 to take ninth place. That is Veen’s best finish at the Big Ten Championships and cements her as a Second Team All-Conference honoree. 

Just missing out on All-Big Ten honors was sophomore Kaitlyn Hynes, who took 15th place overall. Hynes ran a time of 20:38 to finish inside Michigan State’s top three at the conference meet for the second consecutive year. 

Also finishing inside Michigan State’s top seven were senior Lauren Freeland (24th/20:49), junior Emily Bardwell (28th/20:59), graduate student Grace Molloy (33rd/21:07) and sophomore Kate Stewart-Barnett (41st/21:13). Freeland, Bardwell and Stewart-Barnett all logged personal-best times. 

Senior Judy Rector used a nice finish to cross the line right behind Stewart-Barnett in 42nd place. She logged a PR time of 21:13. Junior Taylor Visscher, sophomore Oliva Millen, junior Eleanor Kendell and junior Fatima Giron finished in that order behind Rector. Millen captured a personal-best time of 21:35, while Giron and Kendell were both within three seconds of a PR.

Michigan State got career performances from nearly every member of its women’s team on Friday to earn the Big Ten title over the four other nationally-ranked teams in the conference. Using their depth, the Spartans have captured a great deal of momentum heading into the Great Lakes Regional meet in two weeks. 

The Michigan State men finished about as close as possible to a top-three finish on Friday. The Spartans were tied with Indiana at 89 points a piece after all runners crossed the finish line. The tiebreaker was determined by comparing the placements of each team’s top-five runners. In the end, three of Indiana’s top five runners finished ahead of their Michigan State counterparts. 

Three of those runners were separated by only one place. 

The Spartans ended up taking fourth place, their highest team result at the conference meet since the COVID-shortened 2020 season. 

Michigan State was led by graduate transfer CarLee Stimpfel, who took fifth place after running a time of 23:53 in his debut at the Big Ten Championships. That was good for a two-second PR as an attached runner, breaking his previous record that he set while running for Saginaw Valley State in 2021. 

Also making his conference meet debut was freshman Riley Hough, who came on strong at the Nuttycombe Invite earlier this month. That performance was a sign for things to come, as Hough finished second for the Spartans in 14th place overall. He recorded a time of 24:19. 

Both Stimpfel and Hough earned All-Conference honors, with Stimpfel making First Team All-Big Ten and Hough making Second Team All-Big Ten. 

Junior Andrew Nolan had one of his best career races after making big strides throughout the regular season. Nolan recorded a 17th-place finish and a time of 24:28. Graduate student Fraser Wilson rounded out the Spartan runners in the top 25, earning 25th place thanks to a time of 24:51. 

Also finishing in Michigan State’s top seven were junior Alex Penski (34/24:57), senior Jeremy Kloss (36/24:57) and senior Aden Smith (38/24:58). Pesnki’s time was just two seconds off from the PR he set at the Nuttycombe Invite. 

Graduate student John Petruno, junior Josh Smith, junior Andrew Lane and sophomore Drew Seabase were the remaining Spartan finishers. Graduate student Abdifetah Ahmed did not finish. 

Up next for Michigan State is a trip to Terre Haute, Indiana, for the Great Lakes Regional meet on Friday, Nov. 11.