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2019-2020 Spartan Sports: Cross Country Season Recap

The 2019 cross country season resulted in a few banners and noteworthy achievements by the women’s team in particular. Here’s a look back at the men and women teams’ season.

NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championship Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Spartan Cross Country team had another great season overall with the women’s team taking home a Big Ten title, earning a 19th straight NCAA championship berth, and finishing sixth overall in the nation. Meanwhile the men finished in seventh place in the conference, sixth place at the NCAA regional, and junior Morgan Beadlescomb earned an individual bid to the NCAA championship after coming in sixth place at regionals as well. Walt Drenth, the director of Cross County and Track, earned both Big Ten Coach of the Year and Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honors.

Jeff Drenth Memorial Race

The season started off with a bang (no pun intended regarding starter pistols) as the Michigan State Spartans opened the season in Mount Pleasant on August 30, 2019 with a sweep. The Jeff Drenth Memorial Race was hosted by Central Michigan, and was one of only two 5k courses the teams would run during the season. The men’s and women’s team both finished in first with 25 points apiece. The women’s team saw Makayla Perez take first place with a comfortable 20 second lead over fellow Spartan Claire Kendell who came in second. The next pack of finishers after that to cross the line included five Spartans. Running unattached was third place finisher Jillian Lange and eight place finisher Elizabeth Dalrymple.

The men’s race was more tightly contested between MSU and CMU, but running unattached were first and second place finishers Josh Smith and Jeremy Kloss (a Harbor Springs alum, so mandatory “Go Ramblers!” from this Boyne City grad writing this) who are part of the MSU team. Other Spartan runners who were running in the green and white for the race included a fifth place finish by John Petruno and a sixth place finisher Ty Buckley. After them it was still a wall of green as Brenden Allen, Justin Ferraro, and Zacary Wright-Fisher finished seventh through ninth place respectively.

Spartan Invitational

With a return to the college standard 8k for men and 6k for women, the men’s and women’s teams swept their home invitational at Forest Akers East Golf Course on September 13.

For the women, it was essentially a three-way tie between Spartans Jeralyn Poe, India Johnson, and Annie Fuller. Close behind, by 12.1 seconds to be exact, was fourth place finisher Jenna Magness. Rounding out the top ten also included sixth place Maggie Farrell, eight place Makayla Perez, and ninth place Lauren Cleary. Running unattached, Noelle Adriaens also finished in fifth, and Lauren Cleary finished in 10th place unattached as well. Including all Spartan runners who participated unattached, MSU’s women claimed 13 of the top 25 finishing times.

As for the men, they similarly swept their home meet. However, it was Morgan Beadlescomb taking first and Matthew Thomas in fifth for the top MSU finishers of the men. Fraser Wilson’s eighth-place finish rounded out the top ten, while the men accounted for six of the top 25 finishers overall. Beadlescomb’s finish of 24:24 was the fastest 8k by a Spartan since Caleb Rhynard’s 24:10 finish in 2013.

One final note is this author is sad to see Grand Valley had a second place finish. While my own alma mater of Hillsdale decided to leave their proper athletic home in the GLIAC, I will always consider GVSU to be our rival after my time in undergrad, and hence I wish them ill in all athletic competition so their second place finish was an unhappy sight to see.

Panorama Farms Invitational

The Spartan women came out of the Panorama Farms Invitational on September 27, hosted by the University of Virginia, with their third straight first place finish of the season, while the men came away with a second place finish.

Annie Fuller led MSU with a second place finish in the 6k, finishing in 20:25.3. Eight of the top 16 finishers were in green and white. Jeralyn Poe finished fifth, Lindsey Rudden 10th, Jenna Magness 12th, Noelle Adriaens 13th, India Johnson 14th, Sarah Kettel 15th, Makayla Perez 16th, Maggie Farrell 19th, and Lauren Cleary 23rd.

As for the men, it was Morgan Beadlescomb breaking the tape for a second straight race with an even faster 8k time than in the Spartan Invitational, finishing in 23:58.7. MSU’s men’s team finished second overall just behind No. 22 ranked Virginia. Also finishing in the top-25 was Abdi Ahmed in 12th, Matthew Thomas 20th, and Winter Romeyn 22nd. Both ran season best times.

Buckeye Preview Meet

While some Spartans headed to the Panorama Farms Invitational on September 27, another group headed to Columbus for the Buckeye Preview Meet on September 28. The women’s team that competed finished in ninth place, while the men’s team was not large enough to compete as a team with just four runners. The young group of Spartans that competed did get a great exposure to the course that would play host to the Big Ten Championship just five weeks later, however.

For the men, Brenden Allen was the top finisher for the Spartans in 39th with a time of 25:39.3, while Brayden Law finished 54th, Steven Stine 61st, and Avery Felty 77th. For the women, it was Katie Osika in 35th topping the list for MSU in 22:00.1. Other finishers that scored for the Spartan women included Stephanie Vanis, Melanie Helder, Karenna Duffey, Kayla Wiitala, Claire Kendell, and Amanda George.

Beadlescomb Named CC Athlete of the Week

After his second consecutive first-place finish at the Panorama Farms Invitational, MSU’s Morgan Beadlescomb was named the Big Ten Athlete of the week on Tuesday, October 1. Beadlescomb is a native of Algonac, Michigan and was a junior as noted earlier in our recap.

Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational

The Spartan women entered the race in Madison as the No. 10 ranked team in the country, but finished in fifth against stiff competition. Meanwhile the men finished in 25th place while the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks nabbed first place.

Annie Fuller led the Spartan women with a 13th place finish, clocking in at 20:13.2. India Johnson was the next Spartan to finish, crossing in 33rd place with a career-best of 20:58.5. Johnson shattered her previous personal record by 23 seconds. The only other Spartan to finish in the top-50 was Jeralyn Poe in 44th.

For the men, Morgan Beadlescomb finished in seventh to lead the Spartan men, setting yet another new PR of 23:47.3 after breaking his own best time in his previous race at the Panorama Farms Invitational. No other runners for the MSU men finished in the top-100, however.

EMU Fall Classic

The men and women teams made the trip down to Dexter, Michigan to wrap up the regular season Friday evening of October 26. For just the second time the teams ran a 5k course instead of the college standard 8k for me and 6k for women.

For the women’s team, seven runners finished in the top-25. Freshman Katie Osika led the Spartans with a fifth place finish, crossing the line at 17:35. Klaire Kendall finished seventh, Karenna Duffey finished 11th, Stephanie Vanis 14th, Kayla Wiitala 15th, and Courtney Krupp 16th. Finishing out the top-25 finishers was Lidia Clarizio in 25th.

As for the men, Junior Zac Wright-Fisher led with an 11th place finish of 15:30.8. Right being him was Brenden Allen in 12th, Jack Huber 13th, and Avery Felty in 14th. John Grove finished 17th, and Jalen Smith in 21st to round out the MSU men finishing top-25.

Big Ten Championship

The Spartan women came away from this one with their seventh Big Ten title in program history, and their first since 2014. It was also their fifth title in the last 10 seasons. The women entered the race ranked No. 9 overall, and they beat out No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 8 Michigan to take home the title. MSU finished with 56 points, while the Badgers came in second with 62, and the Wolverines third with 88. The men finished in seventh place with 176 points.

The women were led by senior Annie Fuller and her third place finish clicking in at 20:16.1 as she ran across the line for first-team All-Big Ten honors. Jeralyn Poe and India Johnson also earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as Poe finished eighth and Johnson in 14th. Lynsie Gram came in 15th and Jenna Magness in 16th to round out the top-25 finishers for the women.

Following the race, Michigan State’s women moved up to No. 1 in the Great Lakes Region for the first time since week five of the 2016 season, and they moved up three spots to No. 6 in the USTFCCCA National Coaches’ Poll. The last time MSU was ranked that high was in 2016 when the women were also ranked No. 6.

The men were led by Morgan Beadlescomb’s third place finish, and he crossed the line in 24:01.8. Beadlescomb also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. Abdi Ahmed was the next best finisher, crossing the line at the 24:50.8 mark. Matthew Thomas and Jeralyn Poe were named Michigan State’s Sportsmanship Award Honorees by the conference.

Members of the team who did not compete still made the trip to Columbus to cheer on their teammates for this one. Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Walt Drenth said this of the other members:

“The energy from that group was amazing; it has to start from the coaching staff. The involvement of all the coaches to get here, to be part of this and to see the championship and get the kids here. I honestly got a little choked up when I first started hearing the screams because not only did they come to watch, they came to be a part of this. It was really a great experience for them and culture that I think will help our entire track and field program.”

Drenth was named Big Ten Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.

NCAA Great Lakes Regional

The MSU women earned an automatic bid as a team to the NCAA Championships after clinching the regional title in Madison on November 15. It was also the 19th-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. Their five scoring runners all finished in the top 19. The Spartans outran No. 7 Wisconsin (third place) and No. 11 Michigan (second place) to clinch the Great Lakes Region title. No other team in the region besides MSU placed five runners in the top-20, however.

Senior Annie Fuller led the Spartan women with her runner-up finish as she crossed the finish line with a new personal best time of 20:01.1. Jenna Magness finished seventh and Lynsie Gram finished eighth, bother clocking personal best times. Jeralyn Poe finished 13th, an injured India Johnson finished 14th, and Sarah Kettel came in 19th to finish out the scoring runners.

The men finished in sixth place while running a 10k course for the race, many for the first time in college competition. Morgan Beadlescomb led the team, also with a sixth place finish and a new 10k PR of 30:16.2. He clinched an individual bid to the NCAA Championship as well by finishing as a top-four individual qualifier not part of a qualifying team.

In addition to Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Walt Drenth’s being named Big Ten Women’s Coach of the Year, he also named the Great Lakes Region Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. As mentioned above, Drenth coached the Spartan women to their 19th straight NCAA Championship appearance while all five scoring runners for the Spartans earned All-Region Honors en route to their regional title.

NCAA Championship

The Michigan State women made their 19th straight appearance in the NCAA Championship on November 23 in Terre Haute, Indiana. After a hard fought race the No. 5 ranked Spartans finished in sixth place with 209 points behind national champion Arkansas, BYU, Stanford, New Mexico, and NC State. As for the individual runners, MSU had its best finish since winning it all in 2014 with four of their five scoring runners finished in the top-50. It was also an improvement over last season’s 11th place finish at the Championship.

Seniors Jeralyn Poe and Annie Fuller led the Spartans with Poe’s 32nd place finish in 20:40.3 while also earning All-American honors. Fuller did as well in 34th place, crossing in 20:42.4, earning for her second-consecutive season All-American honors. Jenna Mgness finished 46th and Lunsie Gram finished 49th to round out the top-50 finishers for MSU.

On the men’s side, junior Morgan Beadlescomb was the only qualifier and he earned All-American honors with a 23rd place finish. Despite a muddy course, the junior finished his season with a 31:10.9 finish while taking home All-Big Ten, All-Region, and finally All-American honors.

Academic All-Big Ten Honorees

As for the final honors of the season, MSU’s cross country teams were well represented in the classroom with 39 total athletes earning Academic All-Big Ten honors. The full list is below.

Men’s Cross Country

Brenden Allen, So., Business
Luke Beauchamp, Jr., Kinesiology
Ty Buckley, So., Computer Science
Avery Felty, Jr., Human Biology
John Gove, So., Horticulture
Jack Huber, So., Integrative Biology
John Petruno, So., Food Industry Management
Joe Riordan, Jr., Biosystems Engineering
Winter Romeyn, Sr., Applied Engineering Sciences
Matt Schram, Jr., Mechanical Engineering
Steven Stine, So., Mechanical Engineering
Fraser Wilson, So., Business
Zacary Wright-Fisher, So., Kinesiology

Women’s Cross Country

Carlyn Arteaga, Sr., Organization and Community Leadership
Lidia Clarizio, So., Kinesiology
Karenna Duffey, So., Kinesiology
Maggie Farrell, Jr., Dietetics
Annie Fuller, Sr., Kinesiology
Amanda George, Sr., Biosystems Engineering
Lynsie Gram, Sr., Dietetics
Nicole Hanson, Jr., Supply Chain Management
Samantha Hanson, Jr., Marketing
Melanie Helder, So., Kinesiology
Sarah Kettel, Jr., Kinesiology
Remmi King, So., Education
Courtney Krupp, So., Dietetics
Annika Linzmeier, So., Kinesiology
Jenna Magness, So., Chemical Engineering
Carlie Martella, So., Kinesiology
Dillon McClintock, Sr., Mechanical Engineering
Katie Osika, So., Communication
Makayla Perez, So., Interdisciplinary Studies In Social Science
Kate Petsch, So., Kinesiology
Jeralyn Poe, Sr., Environmental Geography
Lindsey Rudden, Jr., Psychology
Karrigan Smith, Sr., Kinesiology
Stephanie Vanis, Jr., Kinesiology
Mackenzie Weiler, Sr., Psychology
Kayla Wiitala, Jr., Psychology