CHICAGO - Running against its largest field of the season, the Miami University women's cross country team placed two runners in the top 15 en route to a third-place finish Saturday at the 40th annual Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, hosted by Loyola University (Chicago) at Montrose Beach along the shores of Lake Michigan.
The RedHawks totaled 121 points to finish third while McMaster (Canada) won the team title with 105 points in the 51-team field. The host Ramblers were the runner-up with 112 points. Two Big Ten teams were right behind Miami, as Northwestern took fourth (127 points) while the RedHawks also finished ahead of Purdue, who placed fifth (137 points) despite entering the meet ranked 10th in the Great Lakes Region, one spot ahead of No. 11 Miami. In addition, the RedHawks were ahead of Mid-American Conference foes Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, who placed 11th and 15th, respectively.
Sophomore Jess Hoover (Hilliard, Ohio) led the 'Hawks for the third time in three outings this year, finishing 13th overall in a 5K personal-best 17:58. Freshman Julia Valencia (South Lyon, Mich.) recorded her best team finish of her short career, scoring second for Miami right behind Hoover in 14th place with a time of 18:01, also a 5K best.
Sophomore Alex Chitwood (Carmel, Ind.) was third for Miami in 26th place, clocking a 5K personal-best 18:15, while classmate Elisa Frazier (Williamsville, N.Y.) crossed in 33rd in 18:22, another personal best. Frazier has now scored in Miami's top five in all three meets this year. Sophomore Anna Lamb (Granville, Ohio) rounded out the RedHawks scoring five in 35th place, just a second behind Frazier. Miami's entire scoring five, which consisted of only freshmen and sophomores, finished within just 25 seconds of each other and all five posted 5K personal bests.
"Our top five never seems to be the same twice," head coach Kelly Phillips said, noting the team ran well as a group. "I told them to get out fast. It's a hard course to get out fast on because you're going to pay for it at some point. The times were really solid but it's not a fast course, even though it looks like it should be. There are three pretty good hills."
Redshirt junior Monica Fischer (Cincinnati, Ohio) placed 39th in 18:27 while freshman Brenna Poulsen (Indianapolis, Ind.) was seventh for Miami in 43rd place in 18:30. A total of 514 runners competed in the meet.
The RedHawks are off next week before returning to action at the 6K Pre-Nationals meet, hosted by the University of Louisville, Saturday, Oct. 13 at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.