OXFORD, Ohio – Miami University junior Jess Hoover led the RedHawks women’s cross country team to an impressive start to the 2013 season, winning the 2013 Miami Invitational Saturday morning at the its own brand new Miami Cross Country Course.  

Once runners from Miami, Capital, Ohio and Shawnee State took off from the starting line at Miami’s lone home meet of the year, Hoover immediately took the lead, pacing the 5K race the entire way. Winning the race in a personal-best 17:13.6, Hoover had a strong start and looked good throughout her entire run en route to her first collegiate victory.

“When I passed mile two I realized I was still feeling strong at that point and I thought I could pick it up or keep that pace, and keep it strong through the finish,” Hoover said. “Before I knew it we were coming down the opening and coming in and I was like, okay, I think I got this.”

Never letting another runner pass her, Hoover cruised to victory a whole 10 seconds faster than junior teammate Anna Lamb, who crossed the finish line in 17:23.2 to place second overall, which is Lamb’s career-best finish.

“She owned it,” said head coach Kelly Phillips of Hoover’s season-opening performance. “She was awesome…OU is a very good team so the fact that she went out with that kind of confidence against someone like Juli Accurso, who’s been to the NCAA Championship; she didn’t worry about it, she just went after it.”

Following Hoover and Lamb, redshirt junior Melissa Girgis completed a top-three sweep for the RedHawks in 17:29.5. Sophomore Laura Bess was the fourth RedHawk to cross the finish line in 17:40.9, taking eighth overall. Senior Erica Howes was then fifth for Miami in 17:50.5, finishing 11th overall, followed closely by junior Elisa Frazier, who was one spot behind in 12th in 17:52.0.

Three RedHawks went 15-16-17 at the Invitational, beginning with sophomore Mattie Moncayo, who finished in 17:57.4. Junior Alex Chitwood followed 10 ticks later in 18:07.0 with sophomore Brenna Poulsen right behind in 18:10.8. Sophomore Julia Valencia rounded out Miami’s top 10 finishers, taking 19th overall in 18:34.9.

Impressed with her team’s performance, Phillips says with the season-opener done, it’s time for her team to look forward and continue running fast.

“The best part of this is we ran like that and we’ve only been doing workouts for two weeks. We’ve just been doing summer-based training. We didn’t do any workouts over the summer,” Phillips said. “Presumably, it’s only going to get better from here.”

The RedHawks managed to have some fun at the 2013 Miami Invitational, as well, during the challenging competition, getting to race alongside six Miami cross country alumni who returned to celebrate the inauguration of the new cross country course.

Rachel Patterson was the top alumna, finishing ninth overall in 17:48.1, followed by Kelley Miller, who crossed a second later. Katie Lenahan also finished in the top 15, taking 14th overall in 17:57.2. The final three alumnae who ran included Monica Fischer, Lindsey Carlin and Doreen Barrow. No team scoring was kept at the meet.

Phillips was very pleased with the weekend as a whole, especially having the alumni back to race in the Invitational.

“It was awesome,” the head coach said. “It was so fun, it exceeded my expectations.”

Prior to the meet, Miami officially unveiled its new cross country course with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Patterson ‘11 and men’s alumnus Don Kelly ’55 cut the ribbon while men’s alumni Bob Schul ’66 and Bob Hall ’71 held the ribbon.

The RedHawks return to action Friday, Sept. 13 when they travel to Bowling Green, Ohio for the Mel Brodt Collegiate Opener.