OXFORD, Ohio – Following an impressive performance at the 2013 Miami Invitational last Saturday, the Miami University men’s cross country team will face a field of challenging competitors Saturday morning at the Bluegrass Cross Country Invitational, held at the University of Kentucky’s Masterson Station Park. The race will begin at 9:30 a.m.

In Kentucky’s first home meet in over a decade, the RedHawks will take on their first 8K race of the season.

“I’m excited,” head coach Warren Mandrell said of the meet. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do over an 8K because we’ve run the other two 5K races and those are fun and they tell you quite a bit, but until you actually run that extra two miles some kids are a little bit better when they get to go further and some kids are not as good.”

The RedHawks will compete against athletes from several big name schools such as Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Eastern Kentucky and Louisville.  Oklahoma State is ranked No. 1 in the country by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) after winning its third national title in four years last season. Eastern Kentucky will also be a tough competitor, ranking 11th in the nation.

The Red and White will also face Mid-American Conference (MAC) foe Akron, who was picked third in the MAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, one spot higher than Miami. The teams tied for third at the 2012 conference meet last November. The rest of the Bluegrass competition field includes Cincinnati, Mount St. Joseph and Transylvania.

“It’s actually a pretty darn good field,” Mandrell said. “We could run well and still be way down in the middle because it’s a very deep field.”

Miami’s key runners, seniors Dave Wing and Matt Marol, redshirt junior Daniel Garleb, sophomores Zack McBride and Matt Stewart and freshman Stephen Biebelhausen, will run in Kentucky. Sophomore Joe Stewart will not compete due to an injury.

The RedHawks completed their second meet of the season at home last weekend after a one-year hiatus as a result of losing their cross country course on Miami’s Western Campus. Wing was the first runner ever to finish a race on the new Miami Cross Country Course, winning the event in 14:55.3, 44 seconds faster than his second-place time at the season-opening Dayton Flyer 5K Challenge.

Marol took second at the 2013 Miami Invitational, finishing with a time of 14:57.6, which was also faster than his time at the team’s season debut in Dayton, Ohio. Biebelhausen was Miami’s third finisher and 10th overall in 15:16.0, followed by Matt Stewart, who took 11th in 15:20.1. McBride was the fifth and final scorer for Miami, finishing 12th in 15:21.4.

Despite notable finishes, the RedHawks took second behind Ohio University, who had all five of its scorers in the top ten. The Red and White will attempt to run a tighter race this weekend in Kentucky.

Following the Bluegrass Invitational, the RedHawks will take a break from competition for a couple weeks as they prepare for the All-Ohio Championships in Cedarville, Ohio Oct. 4.