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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's cross country team lived up to its number eight national ranking as the Bulldogs finished eighth overall at the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championships on Saturday (Dec. 4) in Louisville, Ky. The performance also tied for the program's highest national meet finish in school history.
The Bulldogs, who entered the championships ranked eighth in the latest United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II National Poll, tallied 241 points overall in the 24-team event. Grand Valley State claimed the team title with 66 points followed by Western State (95) and Adams State (98) in the top three.
A combined total of forty-eight men's and women's collegiate teams and nearly 400 runners from across the country gathered in Louisville for the national championships held in conjunction with the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championships Festival at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.
FSU previously had secured its national championships berth by running to a runner-up team finish in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Championships held Nov. 20 in Louisville. The Bulldogs advanced to the national championships for the third consecutive campaign.
The Bulldogs were led at the national championships by senior standout Tina Muir (St. Albans, U.K.), who took 11th place overall in earning All-America honors for the third-straight year. Muir completed the 6K course in a time of 21:38.3. A total of 187 women's runners took part in the national race with Shippensburg's (Pa.) Neely Spence winning the individual title as she was timed in 20:41.2 on the day. Muir, who was this year's regional champion, had previously placed 12th at nationals each of the last two seasons.
Muir's 11th-place national meet finish this year marks the highest individual finish ever by a Bulldog women's cross country runner in school history. She is one of only two women's cross country All-Americans at FSU and the first three-time honoree.
Freshman Samantha Johnson (Troy) came in next for FSU at 63rd overall (22:49.5) followed by freshman Brittany Anderson (Tustin/Pine River) in 70th place (23:01.5) and sophomore Alyssa Osika (Waterford/Mott) at 73rd (23:03.5). Sophomore Anna Rudd (Leslie) placed 81st (23:08.7), senior Paige Onweller (Lapeer/East) was 94th (23:21.1) and sophomore Shelby Janutol (Troy) took 98th place (23:25.2).
This year represented only the fifth time in history the Bulldog women's cross country team had qualified as a team for the national championships as their 2008 and 2009 berths were the program's first appearances since 1987.
Besides the eighth place team finish, this year's second-place regional finish under third-year head coach Steve Picucci also represented the program's best showing since claiming the Great Lakes Regional crown in 1987. It is one of the top three regional efforts in school history in addition to the Bulldogs' Great Lakes Regional victory in 1981.
Ferris State's eighth-place performance in the national team race this year matches the Bulldogs' eighth-place finish at the 1981 National Championships.
The NCAA-II National Championships were be held on the same course utilized for the Midwest Regional Championships at Tom Sawyer State Park.
A total of more than 800 NCAA Division II student-athletes competed for six national championships in the 2010 NCAA-II National Championships Festival this week (Nov. 30-Dec. 4) in Louisville.