Women's cross country advances to NCAA Championships

MSU women’s cross country finished second with 77 points at the 2011 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships on Saturday, in Toledo, Ohio. Men’s cross country finished ninth with 311 points.

Regional Championships marked the end of the season for MSU men’s cross country. But MSU women’s cross country qualified for the NCAA Championships. This is the 13th straight season the MSU women’s cross country team has qualified ­— the team’s longest active streak in the Big Ten.

Despite senior Carlie Green being pulled from the meet last minute because of an injury, the team still had a strong performance, director of cross country and track & field Walt Drenth said.

“When you have one of your leaders walk away, it causes everyone to take a deep breath. So, we went out there with the mindset that we could do it without her, and the team really did a nice job responding,” Drenth said to the MSU athletics department

Sophomore Sara Kroll may have had one of the best runs of her year. She led the team with a fourth-place finish and a time of 20:37.3. Her teammate, sophomore Julia Otwell, also recorded a top 10 performance for the Spartans when she came in ninth place in the race with a time of 20:44.4.

Junior Katie Haines, senior Rebekah Smeltzer and senior Rachel McFarlane also finished with performances in the top 30 in Toledo.

Drenth said he was proud of both teams’ performances at NCAA Regionals.

“For the women, it was nice to see them finish strong after some last minute adversity prior to the start of the race,” Drenth said. “The men also had a nice performance as they have dealt with a depleted lineup for a majority of the season.”

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