Cross-country team competes at Michigan State

Lauren Lee

The NMU cross-country team started the season off at the Spartan Invitational at noon Friday, Sept. 12 at Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing. The Wildcats travel to the 29th annual Roy Griak Invitational this Saturday.

Freshman Kameron Burmeister lead the Wildcats with a 26th place finish at the Spartan Invitational, with a time of 22:29. In her first 6K race, Burmeister finished 11th of the Division II runners with a pace of 6:02 per mile.

Senior Leah O’Connor of Michigan State placed first at the meet. Michigan State University took the top four places at their invitational.

Senior Wildcat Chelsea Farquhar said the Spartan Invitation was a small part of their season playing a part in working toward the team’s goals and full potential.

“It’s my senior year, it’s really about me running against myself and truly to get the best time I can and the best time of my college career,” Farquhar said. “We were one place away from nationals last year and it’s always a goal for our team to go and would be a huge accomplishment. We had previously had a scrimmage at Michigan Tech, not a lot of runners but still pretty competitive. It was our first big competition and really exciting to see what we all could do. We all had really good times, we know that they aren’t our best times, but our season goes until December, so we have a lot of time to improve.”

The women’s next meet will be the 29th annual Roy Griak Invitational at 9:50 a.m Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Mich. According to the Roy Griak Invitational website this is America’s largest cross-country meet. With 33 teams, the invitation consists of six collegiate races and four high school races.

Head coach Jenny Ryan said the Spartan Invite was a good start for the team, helping them move onto the Griak.

“The Spartan invite had 30 teams, it was a good chance to see what teams are doing there,”  Ryan said. “This week will be a higher national level, it’s a really good learning opportunity for the team to race against some of the top teams in the country and watch runners on a Division I level. We’ve had a good early season training, this is really when the season starts. The Spartan invite was a big one. This (weekend) is definitely a challenge with the top teams in the country. Our goal is conference, regional and national championship.”

Women from Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, Michigan Tech University and Saginaw Valley University all placed ahead of NMU at the Spartan Invitational Friday, Sept. 12, but will not be at the Griak. The Wildcats will have a second run against the Spartans who will be attending the Griak Invitational this Saturday. MSU placed the most top runners in the Spartan Invitational.

With MSU competing in the Invitational the ’Cats will be up against senior Leah O’Connor from Michigan State University once again.

O’Connor finished first at the Spartan Invitational with a time of 21:03 and pace of 5:39 per mile. O’Connor’s teammate, sophomore Rachele Schulist finished two seconds behind O’Connor. Following another MSU teammate junior Lindsay Clark finished 16 seconds behind O’Connor.

Sophomore Mary Kate Cirelli held the lead for the Wildcats coming in 11th with a time of 22:59.6. Junior Megan Edic placed 36th with a time of 23:40.2 and senior Olivia Howard finished 45th with a 23:46.4 time.

Junior Wildcat Jaylee Brown will be running her third year on the cross-country team. Last season Brown finished 10th in the UP Championship at the NMU golf course and finished in the top 100 in the UW Parkside Midwest Open at the Wayne E Dannehl National Cross-Country Course.

Last season at the 28th Roy Griak Invitational, Brown ended the race by helping senior Lillie Koerner of Dordt College. Brown noticed Koerner sitting on the last hill of the race and stopped to help assist her to the finish line.

The NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct selected three recipients of the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award last month, one of them being junior Jaylee Brown. Senior Wildcat Larissa Halonen said last season’s mistakes can help the ’Cats reach nationals this season.

“We came off of a hard finish to the season last year, we missed nationals by one place. That left us very hungry for competition,” Halonen said. “This season we’re going in with a positive mind set and some determination to do better than last year. We just need to use race tactics, strategy and showcase our fitness level against high level runners from top divisions.

“This weekend will be a great course and we’ll be running the definition of smooth meet. We always have a lot of fun and we should do great.”