On a snow-covered course and in below freezing conditions, the Bulldogs churned up mud battling their way into the top eight of the NCAA Division II National Championship.
The Bulldog women travelled to the national championship for the third consecutive year. For the past two trips Ferris has not been able to place higher than 11th as a team. But the Bulldogs lived up to their No. 8 national ranking as they placed eighth overall to tie the highest finish in school history.
“I think that everyone raced well this weekend considering the harsh conditions,” said sophomore Anna Rudd. “We are thrilled to have moved up as a team and every year we get stronger.”
The national meet was held on Dec. 4 in Louisville, Ky. By placing in the top eight at nationals, Ferris helped its region out; next season the Midwest region will be able to send four teams to Nationals instead of three.
Leading the way for the Bulldog ladies was senior Tina Muir. Muir came in at 11th place earning All-American honors in cross-country for the third straight year. The Bulldog ladies stayed within the top 100 out of 187 runners at the meet.
“We made sure we went into the meet with no expectations or pressure of where we would finish,” said Muir. “All we wanted to do was know that we each did our best and had nothing left to give as we crossed the finish line.”
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. For the last two consecutive years she has taken 12th place at nationals.
Ferris originally secured its national championship berth this season by running to a second place finish in the Midwest Regional. The second place finish was the highest the Bulldogs have placed since their Great Lakes Regional victory in 1981. It is one of the top three regional efforts of the program’s history.
“I think we shocked a lot of people with our placing and proved that Ferris State is becoming a powerful cross country school,” said Muir.
For the last two years the Bulldog ladies have placed third in the region under coach Steve Piccuci. Now the coach has had his team place both eighth in the nation and second in the region for this season. Piccuci has had his women reach the National Championship for the three years he has been coach of the program. n