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December 03, 2014 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-12-03

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From Page 5B

Each team's score
is the sum of the
finishing places of
its first five runners
and the lowest score
wins. A team's sixth
and seventh finish-
ers work as support
or tiebreakers.
In the NCAA
for the women's
cross country team,
the women's team
placed 18th, with
their runners com-
ing in at 68, 82, 95,
104 and 125 - total-
ing to 424 points.
Michigan State Uni-
versity's women's
cross country team
won with 85 points.
Because of the
importance of
placement - which
oftentimes is so
close that a few sec-
onds in a race could
mean a 30 point dif-
ference - coaches,
including Manett's,
encourage athletes
to run in packs.
McGuire said
this as he watched
five of the nine,
championship team
girls run circles
around the track on
a brisk November
afternoon several
days after the Big
Ten Champion-
ships. These top
runners were doing
their first track
workout after the
Big Ten meet, and it
was a hard one. Sep-
arated into different
segments, they ran
at "tempo" pace -
moderately difficult
pace - for 10 min-
utes, six minutes,
four minutes and
another four minutes, with a minute break
between each set. The tempo was progres-
sive: each set had to be faster than the first.
"It's to see if you can eat an elephant one
bite at a time," McGuire said, preparing his
The track was busy that day, but with the
sun shining directly on it, the ambiance was
The five girls were separated into packs
of two and three depending on their speed.

Manett, one of the two in the faster pack,
is typically the third fastest runner on the
team. In the final meets of the season, how-
ever, Manett ranked sixth or seventh on the
team. Despite this, McGuire urged her to
keep pushing. Their intensity and determi-
nation on the track was palpable.
The sun settled as the runners picked up
their pace, looping the track.
"Just go; don't care anymore," McGuire
yelled as they ran by. Manett was trailing
behind the pack. "Just go."
For Manett, the pack mentality is crucial.
Even while running in practice, the team
works off of each other; having another per-
son to run with is not only motivating, but
also gives each runner a person to talk to.
Even Manett, enthralled in this hyper-com-
petitive sport, finds practice to be relaxing
and a social time to talk to her friends.
As the team circled, Manett exchanged
brief back-and-forths with her teammate
Kinesiology senior Megan Weschler: "Keep
going," or "Push." Though Manett trailed
behind Weschler every few laps, she pushed
harder while McGuire yelled, "Stay with the
pack" as they curved around the track for
the last time.
Manett said her commitment to run-
ning - and to her team - does not add to
her stress. With a busy academic schedule
as Neuroscience major, Manett depends on
her teammates for help. After all, they all are
going through the same stress as they work
to reach the same goal.
"Having teammates help you means you
can shoulder that weight together - the
expectations and pressure of what you have
to do as a team," she said.
For Ornelas, running serves the same
purpose. Even though he is no longer on a
formal team, he tries his best to ensure that
he can have a running partner each day. It
keeps him motivated.
"At any level, someone to run with keeps
you in check," he said. "If it's just you, you
can make up excuses for yourself. Running
should be a social thing."
Other runners agree. Why would over
200 students sign up for MRun, the Univer-
sity's running club? Presumably, they want
to run with someone else. Runners need
these partners not only to have someone to
talk to on those lonely 20 mile training runs,
but also to push them when necessary.
Keeping fellow runners close is part of
the dynamic of the sport as well. With bare-
ly any fan base, the women's cross country
team depends on each other for support,
Manett said.
Soon, running no longer becomes an obli-
gation or task for the day, but a necessary
time for both self-determination and self-
reflection. And this feeling may be only rele-
vant for runners who understand the mental
effects of the sport. With so much emotion
involved, it's difficult to see why the fans
don't show up.

a championship remained elusive as LSA
junior Shannon Osika, another top runner,
joined Finn with an injury.
After NCAA Championships on Nov. 23,
Michigan coach Mike McGuire recognized
the injuries, noting he would've hoped for
a healthier season for his student-athletes.
However, he said the team still pushed
"I think that the seven that were out there
showed a lot of resiliency," McGuire said.

"We could've folded our cards and finished
25th or 26th."
In varsity college cross country races,
men and women run 8Ks and 6Ks, respec-
tively, with seven athletes in for each team.
These seven runners score points for their
team based on his or her finishing place.
This means if the first runner for the team
finishes fifth, he or she scores five points and
that number will be added to the total score
of the team.

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