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2014 Division I Women’s Cross Country

Michigan State placed three runners in the top 25 to win the school’s first women’s cross country championship

It took just over 20 minutes for the women on the Michigan State University cross country team to race to their first NCAA Division I national championship Nov. 22. But the momentum for such a win, especially among a core group of graduating seniors, had been building for years.

At a pre-race news conference, Leah O’Connor, one of five fifth-year seniors on the team and the Big Ten champion and athlete of the year in her sport, stated that early on in their career, she and her teammates didn’t think about winning a national championship. “But we knew that if we worked together and got stronger as a group that we could do amazing things,” O’Connor added.

Their years of progress paid off on the ultimate stage in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Spartans were crowned the national champion for the first time in program history, beating second-place Iowa State by 62 points. Sophomore Rachele Schulist crossed the line in fourth – the best individual finish in Michigan State history – and three other runners placed in the top 25.

After finishing sixth in the nation last year, the Spartans went undefeated this season. Coach Walt Drenth said the team focused on learning from each meet and held the mantra: “Control what you can control.”

At the national championships, Drenth said the Spartans “did what they’ve done all year. They stayed patient and they ran well late. They stepped up for each other. It was a great team effort.”



The Results

Team Scores
1st: Michigan State, 85
2nd: Iowa State, 147
3rd: New Mexico, 188

Individual Scores
1st: Kate Avery, Iona, 19:31.6
2nd: Sarah Disanza, Wisconsin, 19:39.9
3rd: Emma Bates, Boise State, 19:44.5

Elite 89 Honoree
Kelly Williams, West Virginia University

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