OXFORD, Ohio – After a two-week hiatus from competition, the Miami University men’s cross country team will race for a first-place finish at the All-Ohio Championship Friday afternoon. Hosted by Cedarville University at the Elvin R. King Cross Country Course, the RedHawks will contend in their second 8K of the season at 2 p.m. against a competitive field of 44 Ohio teams.
The Red and White were off from competition the past couple weeks after finishing fifth in the Bluegrass Cross Country Invitational, hosted by the University of Kentucky Saturday, Sept 14. Senior Dave Wing led the way for Miami, finishing 11th overall in a career-high 24:17.21, helping Miami beat conference foe Akron and rival Cincinnati.
The RedHawks will come face to face with the Zips and Bearcats again Friday afternoon at the All-Ohio Championship, while also competing against Mid-American Conference (MAC) rivals Bowling Green and Kent State. After finishing second in last year’s All-Ohio Championship, the RedHawks are looking to move up a spot this year.
“We want to try to win it,” Mandrell said. “Last year, we were second, we held Jarrod (Eick) and Steve Kiplagat out because they both had minor injuries and we didn’t want to risk anything. We thought we could maybe win it anyway, but we got second.”
Even without the team’s top two runners of the 2012 season, Miami managed to take second out of the 44-team meet with 115 points. With Eick and Kiplagat out of the race, Wing rose to the challenge and placed first for the RedHawks and eighth overall in 24:52.8.
Brett Wagner was Miami’s second finisher, taking 25th overall in 25:07.31. Daniel Garleb, Joe Stewart and David Eichenberger were Miami’s final scorers of the meet, finishing in the top 40 out of the 301-runner field.
This season, Miami will go after the All-Ohio Championship with its seven top runners from the Bluegrass Invitational. After Wing finished first for the Red and White at the meet for a third consecutive time this season, senior Matt Marol finished right behind in second for a third straight meet in 24:48.60, finishing 23rd overall.
In his first 8K as a RedHawk, freshman Stephen Biebelhausen took third for Miami and 31st overall in 25:11.91. Junior Daniel Garleb was Miami’s fourth scorer in 35th place in 25:22.21, and sophomore Matt Stewart was the final scorer for the RedHawks, finishing 41st in 25:33.12.
Although they did not score for the RedHawks, Ryan Moncrieff and freshman Kent Ford rounded out Miami’s top seven at the Bluegrass Invitational, earning a spot in the All-Ohio Championship race this weekend.
While the biggest challenge of the meet for the RedHawks will be staying on their feet as they start the race with 300 other runners around them, Mandrell said the All-Ohio can be a predictor of how well his guys will do at the conference meet in November, using Wing and Garleb as examples. After finishing eighth at the All-Ohio Championship last season, Wing took tenth overall at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship. Garleb also had a two-spot difference in the two meets, finishing 23rd at All-Ohio and 25th at the MAC meet.
“Once they stretch out (on the course), it actually gets pretty competitive,” Mandrell said. “It gives you a fun idea of where you’re at, a few places usually of where the MAC meet will show.”
With so many Ohio teams and runners competing Friday afternoon, the race will be both challenging and exciting. Families and friends will travel from all over the state to watch the race, as well as local high school coaches and teams interested in seeing a collegiate cross country meet.
“It’s a spectacle, I guess,” Mandrell said. “It’s kind of a carnival atmosphere for cross country.”
Following the All-Ohio Championship, the RedHawks will have a week off before travelling to Terre Haute, Ind. Saturday, Oct. 19 for Pre-Nationals. The race will begin at 11 a.m.