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July 8, 2014

Former WB runner earns multiple accolades in freshman season at U-M

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Former WB runner earns multiple accolades in freshman season at U-M
Pictured in front is current University of Michigan and former West Bloomfield cross country and track runner Erin Finn, who just wrapped up an historic first season at Michigan.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — While the transition from high school to collegiate athletics can be challenging for many athletes, former West Bloomfield High cross country and track runner Erin Finn seems to have adjusted just fine, as evidenced by coming away from her freshman season at the University of Michigan with some lofty accomplishments.

Finn, who was an individual state champion in cross country and track while at West Bloomfield, ended her freshman campaign having earned multiple Big Ten honors. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for cross country, and indoor and outdoor track, as well as being selected as Big Ten Athlete of the Year in cross country and outdoor track. She was also selected the  Athlete of the Championships for outdoor track.

Finn swept all three Big Ten outdoor postseason awards, making her the first athlete in conference history to accomplish that feat. She was also a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection (2014 indoor and outdoor), Michigan Female Rookie of the Year (2014), and a U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award winner.

While Finn may still have plenty of running to do at Michigan, it doesn’t mean it is too soon to reflect on the opportunity she has been given.

“To be competing at a Division I university is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Finn, who was a three-time Oakland County champion, a five-time New Balance Nationals All-American, and a 2013 North America, Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Junior champion for team USA, prior to running for Michigan. “I am so thankful for everyone who helped me get here and everyone who’s still helping me. I am very excited, and I feel truly blessed. Surrounded by not only a great team and a great coach, but people who really care about me. It’s been a great, great honor.”

For as successful of a start as Finn has gotten off to at Michigan, there is still some work to be done, part of which includes trying to help the Wolverines win some Big Ten titles.

“That is probably our No. 1 goal as a team,” said Finn, who acknowledged support she has received from her family, teammates, and Michigan track associate head coach and cross country head coach Mike McGuire.  “That’s our No. 1 focus. It would mean the world to me to kind of help that happen.”

Anything Finn accomplishes isn’t likely to come as a big surprise to McGuire.

“I’d say some people would like to have a career she’s had in one year, but we hope this is just the start of more exciting things to come,” he said. “She’s impacted our program at a high level — earlier than anybody has in the history of our program on the women’s side.”

While Finn still has plenty of remaining eligibility at Michigan, she may have already learned some valuable lessons as a student-athlete that could help her beyond just the track.

“I feel like running is very relatable to life in general, because it’s really what you put in, you get out,” she said. “You need your teammates to help you, but it all comes down to what you put in. It really shows that hard work does pay off. It also shows that sometimes, especially when you have little minor injuries and setbacks, that there are other ways you can come around and keep working, keep pushing. Even despite a problem, you can push forward. It teaches you to never give up.”

Finn, who is majoring in biochemistry, indicated she already has enough credits to be considered a junior academically, due to taking AP (advanced placement) classes in high school. For all she has done athletically, her greatest accomplishments may await her following her days as a student-athlete.

“Be a doctor — that’s one thing I’ve known I wanted to do longer than I wanted to run,” Finn said. “My goals are to gain experience working in both lab and medical environments. Also, get good grades so I can get in med school after college.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.