UW WXC: Wisconsin wows at NCAA Great Lakes Regional

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin women’s cross country team ran its best meet of the year on Friday, finishing third at the 2016 NCAA Great Lakes Regional at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.

With the sun shining and the course in pristine condition, the Badgers toed the line knowing that they had an opportunity to make a statement, which they did thanks to four top-17 performances.

“This team ran confidently on our home course,” assistant coach Jill Miller said. “They pushed each other up and surprised everyone but themselves. They had 100 percent confidence in each other, which is so crucial in this sport. I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

It was a tight race for the team title, with No. 5 Michigan and No. 14 Notre Dame earning automatic bids to the NCAA championship, finishing first and second with 61 and 91 points, respectively.

Wisconsin was close behind in third and knocked off a pair of ranked teams in the process. The Badgers and Michigan State both scored 97 points, but UW took third thanks to a tie breaker. No. 13 Eastern Michigan placed fifth with 102 points.

“The women were fantastic,” Wisconsin Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne said. “I can’t say that we didn’t expect it. We talk about Big Tens and beyond. We always talk about training for this time of year.

“They went out and they believed. There was an opportunity. The door was open. They took that opportunity.”

Senior Michele Lee paced the Badgers through the opening mile, with senior Sarah Disanza and redshirt freshman Amy Davis close behind. As the race progressed, the trio caught up to lead the chase pack.

Monson ran hard right behind the Wisconsin pack, moving up closer and closer to the leaders as the kilometers ticked by. On the home straightaway she revved it up to another level, finishing the six-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 21.6 seconds to finish 11th.

Disanza, Davis and Lee followed, all finishing within seven seconds of each other. Disanza took 12th in 20:22.5, Davis was 15th with a time of 20:24.2, and Lee crossed the line in 20:29.4 to place 17th.

All four women earned Great Lakes All-Region honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for their top-25 performances.

Sophomore Shaelyn Sorensen rounded out the scoring five and finished 42nd in 21:09.1.

“It’s really awesome,” Monson said. “Training here all season, we kind of know the course and we’ve all been working together really hard so it’s just kind of a sweet moment for us.”

“I think within the past couple of weeks we really saw that when we pull together as a team, we can be pretty darn fantastic,” Disanza said.

By placing third, Wisconsin put itself in a good position to earn an at-large bid for the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championship, set for Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Badgers will find out if they advance to the NCAA meet Saturday afternoon when the NCAA committee will announce the complete field.