OXFORD, Ohio – Miami University head men’s cross country/track and field coach Warren Mandrell declared the signing of five runners to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, as the group will be freshmen for the upcoming 2013 cross country campaign. The newest RedHawk harriers, which consist of Stephen Biebelhausen, Brian Brennan, Kent Ford, Vince Moeglin and John Sotos, will also run track for Miami in the spring.

The incoming class of distance runners includes four student-athletes who hail from Ohio and will remain in state, while one comes to Oxford from Michigan. Four of the five newcomers finished in the top eight at their respective state cross country meet last fall to garner all-state honors, all doing so in Division I.

“This is a very talented and deep class that I am really excited to work with over the next four years. They have performed well in the pressure cooker environment of the state championship and have been an instrumental part of highly successful high school programs,” Mandrell said. “Additionally, all are very strong students with final high school grade-point averages over 3.5. They are classic Miami athletes; great runners and great students.”

Biebelhausen is the lone non-Ohioan among the group. The Rochester, Mich., native placed seventh at the 2012 Michigan Division I State Cross Country Championship last fall, clocking a personal-best 5K time of 15:26 while running for Rochester Adams High School. His athletic talents extend beyond running however, as he earned all-state honors in three different sports this past year. In the winter, Biebelhausen finished fourth at the Michigan Division I State Wrestling Championships in the 119-pound weight class. This spring, he then took sixth in the 3200m at the Michigan Division I State Championships and owns a personal best of 9:18.80 in the event.

Brennan, who calls Akron, Ohio home, was the top finisher among the four Ohio signees at the 2012 Ohio Division I State Cross Country Championship, where he crossed in third in a 5K personal-best 15:22. A graduate of Walsh Jesuit High School, Brennan also led Team Ohio at the Mid-East Meet of Champions, which included the top high school seniors from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. At the postseason meet this past November, he captured 12th in 15:56. He also garnered 2012 Cleveland-area Cross Country Runner of the Year honors from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. An injury sidelined him for the 2013 track season, however.

Ford comes to Oxford from Westerville, Ohio and Westerville North High School, just north of Columbus. He was not far behind Brennan at last fall’s state cross country meet, as he finished fifth in a personal-best time of 15:29 for a 5K. During indoor track season this winter, Ford earned runner-up in the 3200m at the Ohio Division I State Championships, as he was edged out by 0.01 seconds. Outdoors, his success continued as he placed fourth in the 3200m at this spring’s Ohio State Championships in a personal-best 9:11.07. A week later (less than two weeks ago), Ford ran at the New Balance High School National Track & Field Championships and collected 12th place in the 5000m in a personal-best 14:54.98.

Moeglin is a graduate of Hudson High School and hails from Hudson in northeast Ohio. He took 14th at the 2012 Ohio Division I State Cross Country Championship in a personal-best 15:42 for a 5K race. Like Brennan, Moeglin ran at the Mid-East Meet of Champions last November when he placed 28th in 16:12 as the fifth scorer for Team Ohio. This spring, he was fifth in the 800m at the Ohio Regional Track & Field Championships in Youngstown in a personal-best 1:56.30.

Rounding out the group of incoming freshmen is Sotos, who is a native of Dublin, Ohio just outside Columbus. At the 2012 Ohio State Cross Country Championship he finished seventh, not far behind Brennan and Ford, in a 5K personal-best 15:33. As a junior in 2011, Sotos guided Dublin Coffman High School to the Ohio Division I State Cross Country title. He suffered an injury this spring which prevented him from competing during the most recent track season.

“I will be surprised if we do not see some immediate impact with this group,” Mandrell said. “And with the strong core of athletes that we have returning from the 2012 campaign, it should be a very exciting season again this fall.”  

The RedHawks bring back five of their nine runners from the Mid-American Conference Championship last fall, when Miami tied for third, including rising senior Dave Wing, who was a Second-Team All-MAC performer. Four of Miami’s seven runners from the Great Lakes Regional Championship, where the ‘Hawks placed sixth and narrowly missed the NCAA Championship, also return, including 2012 Ohio Cross Country Freshman of the Year Joe Stewart. Other key returners include rising redshirt junior Daniel Garleb, rising redshirt senior Matt Marol and Joe’s twin brother, Matt Stewart. Miami’s 2013 cross country schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.