OXFORD, Ohio - With one meet under its belt, the Miami University women's cross country team returns to action Friday when the RedHawks travel to East Lansing, Mich. for the Spartan Invitational, hosted by Michigan State. The meet takes place at Forest Akers East Golf Course with the women's 6K race starting the day at noon.

Miami will face tough competition at the meet, as a total of 28 colleges and universities will be represented, including eight Division I teams. Leading the way will be No. 11 Michigan and the host Spartans, who are 13th in the USTFCCCA National Poll. The Wolverines and MSU are ranked 1-2 in the Great Lakes Region as well. Fellow Big Ten foes Ohio State and Northwestern will also be in attendance as the Buckeyes sit eighth in the Great Lakes Region Poll while Northwestern is ranked fourth in the Midwest Region. The RedHawks will also get their first taste of Mid-American Conference competition as Central Michigan and Western Michigan will be running. Other schools running include Ferris State, Findlay, Grand Valley State, Hillsdale, Lake Superior, Oakland University, Saginaw Valley State and Shawnee State among several more.

Friday's meet will be the first of four 6K races for Miami on the year as the 'Hawks opened the 2012 cross country season two weeks ago (Sept. 1) the Dayton Flyer 5K Challenge in Kettering, Ohio. Miami finished second out of seven teams at the Flyer 5K, totaling 38 points, while Ohio State won the team title with 19 points. The host Flyers were a distant third with the RedHawks finishing 47 points ahead of them.

Freshmen and sophomores led the way at the Flyer 5K as Miami's top four runners consisted of three sophomores and a freshman while the top seven included only one upperclassmen. Sophomore Jess Hoover (Hilliard, Ohio) paced the 'Hawks, finishing fourth overall in 18:36, while classmate Elisa Frazier (Williamsville, N.Y) was right behind in fifth. Fellow sophomore Alex Chitwood (Carmel, Ind.) was Miami's third scorer in eighth while freshman Julia Valencia (South Lyon, Mich.) and redshirt junior Monica Fischer (Cincinnati, Ohio) rounded out the RedHawks' scoring five in 10th and 11th, respectively.

At last year's Spartan Invitational, which did not have team scoring, Miami placed three runners in the top 20 but only Hoover, who was the third RedHawk to finish in 20th place, returns from that group as Maggie Bingham and Kelley Miller, who finished 13th and 14th, both graduated. Chitwood was fourth for Miami and 35th overall a year ago while junior Kate Carter (Ann Arbor, Mich.) crossed in 40th as the fifth RedHawk to finish.

In addition to Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, Central Michigan is also ranked in the Great Lakes Region Poll at No. 13. The RedHawks moved up three spots from the preseason poll to No. 11 in the region, which is third among MAC teams behind No. 3 Toledo and No. 9 Ohio. Oakland, who will also be at Friday's meet, is 15th in the Great Lakes Region.

Following the Spartan Invitational, Miami runs its second and final 5K of the year Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, hosted by Loyola-Chicago along the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. The race begins at 12:45 p.m. ET.

--MURedHawks.com--