Oct. 29, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A year after setting a new record for margin of victory, the reigning Big Ten and NCAA Champion Wisconsin Badgers again dominated the conference field to claim their eighth straight Big Ten Championships title at the Indiana University Cross Country Course.
The Badgers, who nearly swept the top nine places in the 2005 event with an 85-point differential between the title and second place, could not match their stellar standards from the year before, but didn't miss a beat. Despite not claiming the individual title for the first time in five years, the Badgers tallied 27 points with all five scoring runner's placing in the top 10. The team's other two runners also finished in the top 20.
The race for the individual crown came down to a thrilling but unexpected finish. Wisconsin's Chris Solinsky - last year's runner-up - led for most of the competition, but the senior fell around the 7,000-meter mark. The battle for the title came down to Solinsky's teammate Stuart Eagon and Minnesota sophomore Chris Rombough in the final leg of the race. Rombough finally surged ahead, becoming the Gophers' first individual winner since 1971 with a time of 24:05. Eagon crossed the line a second later for second.
Fellow Wisconsin harriers Tim Nelson and Christian Wagner finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Solinsky recovered from his misstep for a seventh-place finish at 24:29 and first team All-Big Ten honors. Sophomore Matt Withrow rounded out the Badgers' top five with in ninth.
Scoring 85 points, the Wolverines leaped three spots to second with top-10 performances from Lex Williams and Michael Woods. Williams, who didn't even place in the top 50 as a rookie, powered his way to sixth with a time of 24:29. Woods clocked in at 24:41 for eighth. Victor Gras finished at just over 25 minutes (18th), followed by Branson Fellows and Justin Switzer in 26th and 27th, respectively.
Much like the Minnesota women's squad, the Gophers' men's team earned its second straight third-place finish, scoring 98 points behind Rombough's gold-medal run. Antonio Vega was the next Minnesota runner in at 24:50 for 13th place and All-Big Ten second team honors. Ben Puhl and Richard Furseth crossed the line 26th and 27th, and the rest of the Gopher pack clocked in within five seconds of one another starting with Yahya Iman at 25:38 in 37th place.
The Michigan State Spartans posted 114 points for fourth place, skipping three spots from their seventh-place showing a year ago. Stephen Shay led the way for Michigan State, earning All-Conference accolades and 14th place with a time of 24:51. Teammate Justin Zanotti clocked in next for the Spartans at 25:12 in 19th place. Adam Sprangel, Nick Katsefaras and Dustin Voss all earned top-30 finishes to give the Spartans their best team outcome since 2001.
With two top-10 harriers in Micah Vandenend (3rd, 24:20) and Eric Mactaggart (10th, 24:44), Iowa tallied 136 points for fifth place.
The hosting Indiana Hoosiers remained consistent with their 2005 team showing, again finishing in sixth (151). Pacing the Hoosiers, Tim McLeod finished 12th with a time of 24:46, followed by Jordan Kyle in 16th (24:57). Mark Fruin rounded out the top 25 with a time of 25:17.
Slipping five spots to seventh, the 2005 runner-up Ohio State scored 169 point. Alex Bailey piloted the Buckeyes' run with a 21st-place finish at 25:13. Jumping two slots in the team standings, Illinois moved to eighth with 188 points behind Jason Bill's 25:13 run for 20th.
Penn State matched its ninth-place finish from last year, scoring 207 points. Senior Dan Mazzocco led the Nittany Lions with a 24:56 run but just missed the All-Big Ten selection in 15th place. Rounding out the team standings, Purdue finished 10th with 274 points.