OXFORD, Ohio – Two weeks after winning the 2013 Mid-American Conference (MAC) title, the Miami University women’s cross country team will race at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship Friday afternoon in Madison, Wis. to try to earn a spot in the 2013 NCAA Championship at the end of November.

The Miami women will race against a strong 32-team field on the University of Wisconsin’s Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The men’s 10K race will begin at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT), while the women’s 6K run will follow at 2:15 p.m. ET.

The RedHawks will go head to head with three nationally ranked teams, including the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans, No. 14 Michigan Wolverines, and No. 21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Same as last year’s regional ranking going into regionals, Miami is ranked No. 8 in the latest USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Poll. Michigan State leads the region ranked first, with Michigan ranked third in the region, followed by Notre Dame and Ohio State. Indiana and Wisconsin are ranked just above Miami in sixth and seventh.

Miami is the highest ranked MAC team in the Great Lakes Region with Toledo ranked right behind in ninth. Central Michigan is tenth in the region, with Eastern Michigan rounding out the regional rankings in 15th.  In addition to Toledo, Central Michigan, and Eastern Michigan, Miami will go up against several other conference foes, including Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Kent State, and Ohio, all of which the Red and White competed with at the MAC Championships Saturday, Nov. 2.

The RedHawks raced to victory at the MAC Championship two weeks ago, snatching the title away from the Toledo Rockets, who were gunning for a fourth-consecutive conference title. Miami totaled 45 points during the meet, followed by Toledo, which took second with 48 points. Central Michigan finished third with 60 points, followed by Eastern Michigan with 111 points. Ohio then rounded out the top five with 120 points.

Junior Jess Hoover paced the RedHawks for a seventh straight time this season, finishing third overall in 21:16.97. Redshirt junior Melissa Girgis finished strong as Miami’s second scorer, taking fifth overall in 21:26.63. Teammates Anna Lamb and Laura Bess finished one second apart, taking ninth and tenth in the meet. Lamb finished in 21:32.63, while Bess finished right on Lamb’s heels in 21:33.67. Junior Elisa Frazier rounded out the team’s five scorers, placing 18th in 21:58.56.

At last year’s Great Lakes Regional Championship, the Miami women finished tenth overall with 306 points, and was the second MAC team to finish the meet behind conference rival Toledo. Hoover was Miami’s top finisher in the 6K race, placing 39th overall, and will lead the RedHawks in this year’s regional meet. Frazier, Lamb, and sophomores Brenna Poulsen and Julia Valencia will also bring regional experience to this year’s meet after helping Miami place tenth last year. Girgis, Bess, and juniors Alex Chitwood and Mattie Moncayo will round out Miami’s nine runners for Friday’s meet.

The top two teams from Friday’s Great Lakes Regional Championship will automatically advance to the NCAA Championship Saturday, Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind., along with the top four individual finishers from non-qualifying NCAA Championship teams. The third- and fourth-place teams at each regional will have the chance to earn one of 13 at-large berths to the NCAA meet.