2008 Big Ten Cross Country Championships
Oct. 30, 2008
In the 94th running of the Big Ten Men's Cross Country Championships, No. 6 Wisconsin looks to continue its dominance in the event having won the previous nine meets. The Badgers will have their shot at number 10 on Sunday, Nov. 2 on the campus of the University of Michigan. All 10 conference squads will converge on the University of Michigan Golf Course to compete in the 8,000-meter race which begins at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Under the tutelage of first-year head coach Mick Byrne, Wisconsin will field a strong lineup for the Big Ten Championships. Last year's Cross Country Athlete of the Year Matt Withrow returns to the scene after taking top individual honors in 2007. He is joined by first-team All-Big Ten selection Stuart Eagon and second-team All-Big Ten members Andrew Lacy and Landon Peacock.
No. 9 Michigan looks to end the Badgers winning streak with multiple talented runners of its own. Sophomore Craig Forys returns as the only Wolverine in the top 15 at the 2007 event, placing seventh. However Michigan produced four of the nine Big Ten Cross Country Runners of the Week this season. Watch for Ciaran O'Lionard and Lex Williams to help Forys carry the Michigan load.
The 19th-ranked Hoosiers look for leadership from sophomore Cole Hardacre as he was Indiana's top finisher in last year's meet, placing 14th. Quality team points will most likely come from seniors Timothy McLeod and Brennon Plotner and sophomore Ben Hubers as they all finished in the top-30 last season.
No. 20 Minnesota rounds out the contingent of nationally ranked Big Ten teams. The Gopher tandem of sophomore Hassan Mead and senior Chris Rombough have been pacing the Minnesota squad all year. Mead has earned conference harrier of the week twice this season and garnered Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2007. Rombough was crowned event champion in 2006 and is a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection.
Ohio State will rely on senior Jeff See, a 2007 first-team All-Big Ten honoree, to repeat or better the Buckeye's third-place finish from last year.
All 11 conference schools, including seven of the top 21 of the latest USTFCCCA national rankings, will invade Ann Arbor this Sunday, Nov. 2 for the 28th running of the Big Ten Women's Cross Country Championships. The 6,000-meter race will be held on the University of Michigan golf course with an approximate start time of 10:45 a.m. ET.
This year's meet is shaping up much like the 2007 event where No. 7 Minnesota claimed the team title by one point, the smallest margin of victory in Big Ten annals. The Gophers are followed closely in the national rankings by No. 8 Michigan, No 9 Michigan State and No. 10 Illinois, with No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 19 Penn State and No. 21 Iowa lurking in the background.
Gopher general and 2007 Coach of the Year Gary Wilson has strong leadership on this year's team. Senior Gabriele Anderson and juniors Jamie Cheever and Elizabeth Yetzer return to the event after all three placed in the top 16 one year ago.
Host Michigan had its five-year championships winning streak interrupted last season and looks to begin anew. Seniors Nicole Edwards and Alyson Kohlmeier will lace up one last time for the Maize and Blue as they have each earned first-team All-Big Ten status in previous seasons.
Michigan State hopes to claim the team title after its heartbreaking one-point loss to Minnesota last year. Seniors Nicole Bush and Lisa Senakiewich have each garnered Big Ten Cross Country Runner of the Week honors in 2008, with Bush taking the award twice.
The Illini return last year's third-place medalist in Angela Bizzarri and second-team All-Big Ten selection Kate Engel in hopes to up their fourth-place showing in 2007. Freshman Kristin Sutherland looks to provide depth for Illinois as well, having earned a weekly conference award this season.
Other individuals looking to earn their way back onto the medal stand include Wisconsin's Hanna Grinaker, Penn State's Bridget Franek and Iowa's Jolly Burke, after finishing in the top 14 last year.
Admission for the event is $5 for adults and $3 for students, children and senior citizens with ticket sales starting at 8:30 a.m. on race day at the course. All media inquiries must contact Joe Arancio or Jeremy Reid (734-763-4423). For more event details, please visit mgoblue.com.