Oct. 27, 2011
The Big Ten Women's Cross Country Championships are set for this weekend, with all 12 conference teams competing for a Big Ten title at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana, Ill. The 6,000-meter race is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. CT.
Defending Big Ten Champion Michigan State enters the weekend with the highest national ranking of the conference squads at No. 15. The Spartans, led by 2010 first-team All-Big Ten honoree Carlie Green, return seven runners who competed in last year's championships. Green's seventh-place finish marked one of Michigan State's six top-30 finishes in the event.
Michigan follows Michigan State in the poll at No. 19, and finished as the runner-up in the 2010 conference meet. The Wolverines return five competitors from its 2010 lineup, including its top three finishers. Michigan boasts two All-Big Ten performers from a season ago as Danielle Tauro took fourth place and Jillian Smith finished 12th.
Penn State enters the weekend ranked 26th nationally, returning seven of its runners from a season ago. All-Big Ten performers Brooklyne Ridder and Natalie Bower headline the Nittany Lion lineup after finishing ninth and 14th, respectively, in 2010.
Iowa, ranked 27th, rounds out the group of ranked Big Ten teams heading into the championships as 2010 All-Big Ten honoree and top-10 finisher Betsy Flood returns to lead the charge for the Hawkeyes.
Illinois returns six of its runners from last year's championships, while Indiana welcomes back eight competitors from last season's championships lineup. After placing third last season, Minnesota returns two All-Big Ten performers in individual runner-up Stephanie Price and Missa Varpness, who finished 11th.
Nebraska enters its first championships competition as a member of the Big Ten, while Northwestern returns all eight of its runners from last year's competition. Five runners from last season's lineup return for Ohio State, while Purdue returns seven of its eight competitors. Wisconsin welcomes back two top-10 performers in reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Emily Sisson (third) and Caitlin Comfort (sixth).