2009 Big Ten Cross Country Championship Preview

In the 95th running of the Big Ten Men’s Cross Country Championships, No. 15 Wisconsin looks to continue its dominance in the event after collecting

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In the 95th running of the Big Ten Men’s Cross Country Championships, No. 15 Wisconsin looks to continue its dominance in the event after collecting its conference record 10th-consecutive team title in 2008.  The Badgers will have their shot at number 11 on Sunday, Nov. 1 on the campus of Penn State University where  all 10 conference squads will meet on the Penn State University Blue and White Golf Course to compete in the 5.2 mile race, slated to begin at 10:45 a.m. ET.

Under the direction of 2008 head coach of the year Mick Byrne, Wisconsin boasts a roster featuring 12 freshman and just eight returning letterwinners this season. Sophomore Landon Peacock will look to improve on his runner-up status from last year after earning Freshman of the Year laurels in 2007. He is joined by first-team All-Big Ten selections Jack Bolas and second-team All-Big Ten honoree Craig Miller.

Michigan looks to end the Badgers winning streak with multiple talented runners of its own.  Senior Sean McNamara returns as the only Wolverine in the top 10 at the 2008 event, placing sixth. However, senior Peter Christmas is also poised for a breakout performance in step with his three top-five finishes this year, including his first-ever collegiate win at the Michigan Intercollegiate. The Wolverines will be in the hunt for their 10th conference championship, owning nine titles dating back to 1922. In the last 19 years of Big Ten Championship annals there have only been five times in which Wisconsin and Michigan have not occupied the top two spots in the final team standings.

Minnesota enters Sunday’s contest with an eye on the team title, powered by reigning Cross Country Athlete of the Year Hassan Mead, who returns to the scene after taking top individual honors in 2008.  He is joined by a trio of seasoned veterans in Matt Barrett, Ben Blankenship and Mike Torchia, who all posted top-30 finishes last season.

The No. 18-ranked Indiana Hoosiers will look to improve on their fifth-place showing from last year’s championship. The young Hoosier squad will turn to sophomore Andrew Poore for leadership from as he was Indiana’s top returning finisher in last year’s meet, placing 17th to narrowly miss all-conference distinction. Poore will turn to fellow 2008 Cross Country Runners of the Week in Hoosier freshmen Andy Bayer and Zachary Mayhew to help carry the Indiana load.

Host Penn State will rely on 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten honoree Kyle Dawson, to better the Nittany Lions’ fourth-place finish from last year. Dawson will be joined by a talented group of returners, including fellow sophomore Vince McNally, as the Nittany Lions challenge for another finish in the top tier of the Big Ten.

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