OXFORD, Ohio - Facing the deepest and most talented field of the season, the Miami University men's cross country team runs Saturday at Pre-Nationals, hosted by the University of Louisville at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, in what serves as a final tune-up before the Mid-American Conference Championships in two weeks. The race begins at 9:30 a.m. and is run on the same course that the NCAA Cross Country Championships will be held in November.
With 68 men's teams entered in the meet, there will be two races held with the RedHawks running in the Red Race, which is the seeded race where every team running is ranked regionally. The Red Race consists of 40 teams, including eight nationally ranked teams, led by No. 3 BYU, No. 7 Colorado and No. 9 Tulsa. Other ranked opponents include No. 12 Villanova, No. 14 Florida State, No. 15 Oregon, No. 20 Georgetown and No. 23 William & Mary.
Miami is ranked 11th in the latest USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Poll while the 'Hawks will see other teams from the region in the Red Race as well, including MAC foes Eastern Michigan, who is sixth in the region, and Central Michigan, who is right behind Miami at No. 12 in the region. Other teams from the Great Lakes Region in the Red Race are No. 8 Indiana State, No. 9 Butler and No. 10 Cincinnati. MAC foes Akron and Kent State, who are 14th and 15th in the Great Lakes Region, are running in the Black Race (unseeded) as is Toledo and Ohio. For a complete list of teams in the Red Race, click here.
In their last outing, the RedHawks finished second out of 44 teams at the All-Ohio Championships Sept. 29 in Cedarville. Miami totaled 115 points while Cincinnati won the meet with 86 points. The 'Hawks were ahead of Akron and Kent State despite missing their top two runners due to injury. Junior Dave Wing (Naperville, Ill.) was Miami's top finisher for the first time this year, placing eighth, while redshirt senior Brett Wagner (Toledo, Ohio) was second on the team in 15th overall. Redshirt sophomore Daniel Garleb (Pickerington, Ohio) and freshman Joe Stewart (Naperville, Ill.) were Miami's third and fourth scorers while redshirt senior David Eichenberger (Plainfield, Ind.), who's been recovering from an injury, was Miami's fifth scorer for the first time this season.
Miami was without senior Jarrod Eick (Hartville, Ohio) and redshirt senior Steve Kiplagat (Iten, Kenya) at the All-Ohio Championships, as the duo had been the RedHawks' top-two scorers in the first two meets of the year but missed the last meet with an injury. Both Eick and Kiplagat will be back for Saturday's race, however Wing will miss Pre-Nationals as a precautionary measure to make sure he's healthy for the MAC Championships.
The RedHawks last competed at Pre-Nationals back in 2009 when they placed 25th. The only member of the 2012 squad to run in that race was Eichenberger, as he was Miami's seventh finisher in 178th place. Eick ran in the open race at the 2009 Pre-Nationals as a true freshman, as well.
Following this weekend's meet, Miami has a week off before heading to Buffalo, N.Y. for the MAC Championships, hosted by the University at Buffalo, on Saturday, Oct. 27.