OXFORD, Ohio – Running for a spot in the 2013 NCAA Championship at the end of November, the Miami University men’s cross country team will race at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship Friday afternoon at the University of Wisconsin’s Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The RedHawks will run in their first 10K of the year at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT), followed by the women’s race at 2:15 p.m. ET.

The Miami men will race against 29 other regional teams, including four nationally ranked teams in No. 12 Indiana, No. 16 Michigan, No. 19 Wisconsin, and No. 22 Notre Dame. Indiana jumped three spots to first in the region in the latest USTFCCA Great Lakes Regional Poll, followed closely by Michigan, which is ranked second. Wisconsin has won 11-straight regional titles and is ranked third, while Notre Dame is ranked fourth. Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana State, and IUPUI also hold regional rankings entering Friday’s meet.

After a disappointing finish at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship two weeks ago, Miami dropped four spots in the regional poll, now entering the regional meet ranked 14th. Of currently ranked MAC teams, Eastern Michigan is ranked ninth in the region, followed by Akron, which moved up one spot to 10th. Central Michigan will go into regionals ranked 11th, followed by Ohio, which is ranked 12th.  

The RedHawks are coming off a heartbreaking performance at the 2013 MAC Championship Saturday, Nov. 2 when they finished sixth out of a nine-team field. Miami, which defeated both Eastern Michigan and Akron at the Pre-Nationals Invitational October 19, witnessed both teams go 1-2 in the conference meet. Eastern Michigan ran away with the title, totaling 42 points, while Akron placed second with 67 points.

Despite an unwelcoming finish, senior Dave Wing was the second runner to finish the championship race in 24:54.61 behind Buffalo’s Zachary Ahart who won the individual title. Wing has led the RedHawks in every meet this season, and according to head coach Warren Mandrell, he has a strong chance of making it to the NCAA Championship individually, if the RedHawks are unable to earn a team spot.

Sophomore Joe Stewart also ran an impressive race, despite injury and illness keeping him out of every meet leading up to the MAC Championship. Stewart was the team’s second scorer, placing 21st overall 25:50.87.  Junior Daniel Garleb finished 26th overall as Miami’s third scorer in 25:59.36, followed by sophomore Matt Stewart who took 39th overall in 26:18.79. Senior Matt Marol, who is usually Miami’s second scorer, rounded out the team’s scoring five. Struggling through an injury, Marol finished 49th in 26:27.07.

At last year’s regional meet, the Red and White had their strongest race of the season, finishing sixth out of 30 teams with 214 points. Alumnus Steve Kiplagat was Miami’s top scorer, placing 25th overall, followed by alumnus Jarrod Eick who took 38th. Wing, Garleb, and Joe Stewart rounded out the team’s scoring five.

Wing, Garleb, Marol, and Stewart will lead the RedHawks in this year’s regional, while freshmen Stephen Biebelhausen, Matthew Dietrich, Kent Ford and Patrick Santino, and sophomores Zack McBride, Ryan Moncrieff, and Matt Stewart will all travel down to Madison, Wis. for regionals.

In order to automatically advance to the NCAA Championships, the RedHawks would need to be one of the top two teams to finish the regional meet. The third-and fourth-place teams of all nine regionals will have the chance to earn one of 13 at-large berths to the championship meet Saturday, Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind. The top four individual finishers from the non-qualifying NCAA Championship teams will also automatically earn a spot to the championship.