Michigan Cross Country
For a runner, speed and endurance are keys to success. For the Michigan women's cross country team, those are helpful but depth and consistency have been even more important to its consistent triumphs. Despite garnering one individual title in the past four years, the Wolverines have claimed four-straight Big Ten Championships crowns. They have also finished first or second in the Big Ten Championships in 12 of the last 13 seasons, while posting nine top-two finishes -- including a second-place finish or better in four of the last five seasons.
With its top seven finishers all placing in the top 26, Michigan earned its fourth Big Ten Conference Championship - and first title since 1994 - at the 2002 Big Ten Championships. The then-24th-ranked Wolverines, with 70 points, edged out second-place finisher Michigan State by just three points. Freshman of the Year Rebecca Walter led the Maize and Blue with her fifth-place finish at 17:47.8.
When the championships format was converted from a 5,000-meter race to 6,000 meters in 2003, the Wolverines responded extraordinarily to claim their second straight title on the heels of Big Ten Athlete of the Year Walter's first-place performance. Walter secured the second-fastest time in the 6K event, clocking in at 20:40.5. In 2004, Michigan blew away the field, claiming five top-20 finishes and a 40-point margin of victory behind another strong performance from Walter in second.
The Wolverines claimed their fourth-consecutive team title in 2005, a string that ranks second in championships history for consecutive titles. Sophomore Alyson Kohlmeier paced the Wolverines, crossing the finish line second with a time of 21:02.74. Kohlmeier, who finished seventh at the 2004 meet, also earned All-Big Ten honors. Sophomore Erin Webster joined her on the All-Big Ten Team with a seventh-place finish at 21:22.04. Nicole Edwards was close behind, finishing eighth at 21:24.79. Walter came back from an early season injury to take 11th place overall with a time of 21:32.79.
Walter, a three-time All-American, paced the Wolverines to three top-six NCAA finishes during the era, including a sixth-place team finish in 2005. The Wolverines also boasted seven top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships and 11 top-15 rankings in the last 13 campaigns. Mike McGuire earned his fourth-straight conference Coach of the Year award and his seventh overall, which ranks second in the league behind the nine annual awards of former Wisconsin coach Peter Tegen.