OXFORD, Ohio – After a week off from competition following a third-place finish at the Wake Forest Invitational September 20, the Miami University women’s cross country team is ready to take on two meets this weekend. Half the team will race in the All-Ohio Championship Friday afternoon, while the rest of the team will compete in the Greater Louisville Classic Saturday morning.
Junior Jess Hoover, who has finished first for Miami in all three of the team’s meets so far this season, will lead the way for the RedHawks at the Greater Louisville Classic, hosted by the Louisville Sports Commission at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.
Redshirt junior Melissa Girgis, juniors Anna Lamb and Mattie Moncayo and sophomores Laura Bess and Brenna Poulsen will round out Miami’s six competitors in The Classic’s gold seeded race, which will begin at 10:15 a.m. Saturday morning.
Senior Erica Howes, juniors Alex Chitwood, Elisa Frazier, Amanda Hancock and Julianne Ballog, sophomore Julia Valencia and freshman Jackie Mullins will be the seven that represent Miami at the All-Ohio Championship. They will face off against 43 Ohio teams at the Elvin R. King Cross Country Course at 2:45 p.m. Friday.
Unlike the three past meets the RedHawks have competed in together, this will be the first weekend where each individual runner will need to be at their best from start to finish.
“The difference this weekend is that in past meets, if someone was having a bad day, they could rely on half their team to make up for it because only five score,” head coach Kelly Phillips said. “But now, there is no cushion. They each have five or six or seven people running, so everyone has to do their part for us to do well.”
Miami’s six runners at the Greater Louisville Classic will race against a competitive 33-team field, going head to head with Vanderbilt University, who is ranked No. 26 this week in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFACCCA) Division 1 National Coaches Poll.
The RedHawks will also be looking to finish ahead of Texas A&M, the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky in order to earn points towards the 2013 NCAA Championship in November.
“The main goal is to try to be in the top five, preferably the top three,” Phillips said. “The more out of region teams we beat, the better off we are, so our goal is to beat as many other region schools as we can.”
The seven runners at the All-Ohio Championship will go up against conference foes Bowling Green and Kent State, as well as neighboring teams Cincinnati, Dayton, Wright State and Xavier.
Despite not having the entire team at the All-Ohio Championship, the team’s objective is to cross the finish line as the top Ohio team at the meet. The RedHawks did not compete at the All-Ohio Championship last year, but had won the meet in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The Red and White had a week off to train for the busy weekend ahead after racing to a third-place finish at the Wake Forest Invitational.
In the team’s first 6K meet of the season, Hoover paced the RedHawks against nationally ranked Florida State and conference rival Ohio University, finishing sixth overall in 21:19.60.
Lamb and Girgis were Miami’s second and third scorers of the race, finishing 11th and 12th overall. Lamb completed the 6K in 21:41.61, while Girgis followed in 21:45.59. Bess finished as Miami’s fourth scorer, taking 30th overall in 22:43.73, and Moncayo rounded out Miami’s scoring five, taking 31st in 22:44.30.
The RedHawks will have another week off from competition after this weekend’s meets, and will return to action Saturday, Oct. 19 when they race in Pre-Nationals in Terre-Haute, Ind. The race will begin at 11 a.m.