Women's CC Advances To NCAA-II Nationals

Tina Muir (left) and Tyler Crossman (right) paced the Bulldogs at Saturday's regional (Photos by Sandy Gholston)
Tina Muir (left) and Tyler Crossman (right) paced the Bulldogs at Saturday's regional (Photos by Sandy Gholston)

Kenosha, Wis. – The nationally-ranked Ferris State University women’s cross country team secured its second consecutive NCAA Division II National Championships berth by running to a third-place team finish in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Championships held on Saturday (Nov. 7) in Kenosha, Wis.

The Bulldog women placed third in the regional for the second-straight campaign and will next compete in the NCAA-II Championships on Saturday, Nov. 21, in Evansville, Ind.

Ferris totaled 103 points in placing behind regional champion Grand Valley State (26 points) and runner-up Southern Indiana (76). The Bulldogs finished six points ahead of fourth-place Hillsdale (109) as the top three teams advance to the national championships.

Meanwhile, the Bulldog men took eighth place in the field of 19 competing teams with 249 points. GVSU also won the men’s division (38) with Saginaw Valley State placing second (88) and Southern Indiana (90) third.

In addition to finishing third overall, the Bulldog women also had the individual regional champion as junior standout Tina Muir clocked 21:33.2 in finishing nearly 11 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Mary Ballinger of Southern Indiana. The women’s field included 134 runners. Muir’s victory represented her fifth individual title in as many races this season.

Freshman Anna Rudd also placed in the top 15 overall as she was 13th (22:57.0) overall. Junior Paige Onweller took 20th place (23:20.7) followed by senior Megan Josey in 31st place (23:42.7) and freshman Alyssa Osika in 38th place (23:54.5). Freshman Shelby Janutol came in 41st (23:56.7) and junior Sarah Creed was 83rd (24:48.7).

In the men’s race, the Bulldogs were paced by sophomore Tyler Crossman’s 23rd-place finish (33:54.5). Tyler Emmorey of GVSU claimed the men’s race (32:21.4) with 128 runners competing in the event.

FSU freshman Alex Bladecki came in 46th (34:50.9), junior Alex Best was 49th (34:54.1), senior Curtis Begley took 60th-place (35:22.2), senior Brian Reynolds was 71st (35:38.6), sophomore Steve Neshkoff finished 72nd (35:47.7) and freshman Josh Kyser was 106th (37:12.2).

Last year, the Bulldog women’s third-place regional finish catapulted the squad to a 17th-place team finish at the 2008 NCAA-II Championships (11/22/08) held at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Pa. The back-to-back third place regional finishes under head coach Steve Picucci represent the program's best showings since an identical third-place finish at the 1990 NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Championships and it marks the first time in school history the Bulldogs have qualified for the national championships two consecutive years.

This year also represents only the fourth time in history the Bulldog women's cross country team has qualified as a team for the national championships as last year’s berth was the program's first appearance since 1987. Ferris claimed Great Lakes Regional crowns in both 1981 and 1987 to advance to the NCAA-II Championships where they placed eighth and 11th overall, respectively.

Muir earned All-America honors at the national championships last season as the Bulldogs wrapped up one of their most successful seasons ever. She placed 12th overall in a field of 189 runners to become only the second All-American in Bulldog women’s cross country history and FSU’s highest finisher ever at the national championships.

The NCAA-II Championships will be hosted by Southern Indiana on the USI Cross Country Course in Evansville with the women’s race set to start at 12 p.m. (CT).