OXFORD, Ohio - Miami University's men's and women's cross country teams will run for a Mid-American Conference title Saturday as both teams compete at the MAC Championships, hosted by the University at Buffalo at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island. The women's 6K race starts the day at 11 a.m. followed by the men's 8K race at noon.
All 12 MAC women's teams will run Saturday while nine men's MAC teams sponsor cross country with Ball State, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan the three schools that don't. Miami's men have captured 20 MAC Championships, more than any other school, however the RedHawks haven't won a MAC title since 1998. On the women's side, the RedHawks have won a pair of MAC titles, doing so back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.
Miami's women enter the MAC Championships ranked ninth in the Great Lakes Region, which is second in the MAC behind Toledo, who is fourth in the region and 20th nationally. Ohio sits 10th in the Great Lakes Region while Eastern Michigan is 13th and Central Michigan is 15th. On the men's side, the RedHawks are ranked 12th in the Great Lakes Region behind No. 4 Eastern Michigan and No. 11 Central Michigan. Akron is 14th in the 15-team regional poll as the only other MAC team ranked.
At last year's MAC Championships, the RedHawk women placed third with 83 points, 10 back of runner-up Central Michigan, while Toledo took home its second straight MAC crown. Miami returns two of its five scorers from that race in sophomores Jess Hoover (Hilliard, Ohio) and Alex Chitwood (Carmel, Ind.). Hoover was a Second-Team All-MAC performer as a freshman, finishing 12th as Miami's second scorer, while Chitwood was third on the team and 19th overall. The RedHawks lost Maggie Bingham, who was Miami's top finisher last year in eighth, Jillian Dickman and Kelley Miller to graduation, but return their sixth and seventh runners in junior Kate Carter (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and redshirt junior Monica Fischer (Cincinnati, Ohio).
Miami's men had a disappointing showing at the 2011 MAC Championships, finishing eighth out of nine teams with 173 points, placing ahead of Bowling Green. Eastern Michigan won its second straight title with 68 points, followed by Central Michigan and Buffalo. The RedHawks return their entire team from last year, led by senior Jarrod Eick (Hartville, Ohio), who was a First-Team All-MAC performer after finishing fifth as Miami's top scorer in 2011. Junior Dave Wing (Naperville, Ill.) was second for the RedHawks in 21st while redshirt junior Matt Marol (Evanston, Ill.), redshirt senior Brett Wagner (Toledo, Ohio) and redshirt sophomore Daniel Garleb (Pickerington, Ohio) completed Miami's scoring five. Redshirt senior David Eichenberger (Plainfield, Ind.) looks to improve on last year's showing as well after struggling with an injury in 2011 while Miami added redshirt senior transfer Steve Kiplagat (Iten, Kenya), who has been the RedHawks' top finisher twice this season.
In their last outing, the RedHawks women's team took 22nd out of 38 against nationally ranked competition at Pre-Nationals Oct. 13 in Louisville, Ky. Miami finished ahead of MAC foes Ohio and Eastern Michigan at the meet as the 'Hawks were the top MAC team in the race. Fischer was Miami's top finisher for the first time in her career, taking 85th, while Hoover, who had been Miami's top finisher in her first three races this year, was second on the team in 97th. Sophomore Elisa Frazier (Williamsville, N.Y.), freshman Julia Valencia (South Lyon, Mich.) and sophomore Anna Lamb (Granville, Ohio) completed Miami's scoring five.
Miami's men also ran at Pre-Nationals against tough competition and took 32nd out of 40, while MAC foes EMU and CMU were 10th and 28th, respectively. Kiplagat led the way in 62nd followed by Eick in 110th. Garleb, freshman Joe Stewart (Naperville, Ill.) and Wagner completed the RedHawks' scoring five. Wing missed the meet for precautionary reasons while dealing with a minor injury as he and Eick have also been Miami's top scorers during the season.
Following the MAC Championships, both the men's and women's teams run at the Great Lakes Regional Championship on Friday, Nov. 9 in Madison, Wis. where the RedHawks will try to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship, which is Nov. 17.