Webster's Record Run Propels Michigan to Fifth Straight Big Ten Title

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Michigan Wolverines made their fifth straight title run a memorable one at the 2006 Big Ten Cross Country Championships.

The four-time defending Conference champions, one of five of the conference's top-30 teams, extended their title streak with three top-10 finishers for the second straight year. The Wolverines current run ranks second in championships history for consecutive titles won.

After a two year hiatus, the Wolverines also regained the individual crown on the heels of sophomore Erin Webster's record run of 20:23. Webster crushed the previous Big Ten Championships standard set by Michigan State's Danette Doetzel in 2004.

Not far behind Webster, her teammate Alyson Kohlmeier - last year's runner-up - crossed the finish line at 20:35 for second place. Nicole Edwards clocked in at 20:59 for ninth, securing All-Big Ten second team honors.

With all five scoring runners finishing in the top 22, Michigan seized the championship trophy with 52 points. That score matched the Wisconsin 1983 championship squad for the second highest winning score in championships history.

The Badgers finished second in the team standings with 91 points, edging third-place Minnesota by one team point. Freshman Hanna Grinaker paced Wisconsin, finishing four seconds behind Kohlmeier for third (20:39). Two veterans crossed the finish line next for the Badgers in seniors Katrina Runhaug and 'A Havahla Haynes. Runhaug finished 13th at 21:08 while Haynes clocked in three seconds later for 14th.

Minnesota scored a third-place team finish for the second straight year. The Gophers, who hosted the 2005 championships, narrowly missed runner-up status with 92 points. Senior Emily Brown paced the Gophers and tallied a sixth-place finish of her own at 20:52. Junior Ladia Albertson-Junkans was right on her heels, coming in at 20:53 for seventh. The Gophers scored with three more top-30 performances from sophomore Gabriele Anderson and freshmen Elizabeth Yetzer and Amy Laskowske.

Earning fourth, Michigan State tallied 101 points to climb one spot from their fifth-place finish in 2005. The Spartans rallied behind sophomore Alissa McKaig's fourth-place performance (20:42). Michigan State also placed senior Michelle Rafferty on the All-Big Ten Second Team with an 11th-best time of 21:04. Not far behind her, teammate Nicole Bush crossed the line at 21:15 for 15th.

Last year's runner-up, Illinois fell three spots in the team standings, taking fifth on the heels of four top-30 individual finishers and 107 points. Freshman Angela Bizzarri led the Illini with 20:49, earning fifth place and first team All-Conference honors in her Big Ten debut. In the next minute, Illinois scored in a flurry with senior Stephanie Simms coming in 20th (21:24) followed by Stephanie Baliga in 21st and Cassie Hunt - last year's individual champion - at 23rd.

Iowa shaved more than 50 points off of its team total from 2005 to move up to sixth place (112). The Hawkeyes were again paced by 8th-place finisher Meghan Armstrong who turned in a time of 20:54. Also earning All-Big Ten honors for Iowa, junior Rachel Merchand finished 12th at 21:05, while Diane Nukuri turned in a top-20 performance of 21:16 for 16th.

The hosting Indiana Hoosiers finished seventh behind two-time All-American Jessica Gall's 10th-place run of 21:01. Fellow senior Lindsay Hattendorf notched 19th place with her run of 21:20.

The eighth-place team was Purdue, which moved up two spots in the team standings with its 222-point showing. Rookie Bridget Franek opened her Big Ten career with a 17th-place finish at 21:16, crossing the line a split second behind Iowa's Nukuri.

Ohio State finished ninth for the second straight year with 252 points, with Sarah Foster leading the way in 37th place. Purdue garnered 292 points for 10th place, and Northwestern rounded out the team standings with a total of 321.