OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University men’s cross country team has one final tune-up this weekend at the 2013 Pre-National Invitational before taking on the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship in November. The RedHawks will see their toughest competition yet this season, racing at 11 a.m. against 51 regionally and nationally ranked teams at Indiana State University’s LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Pre-Nationals will welcome a talented 75-team field Saturday morning, but only the teams with regional rankings will run in the Blue Race, while the 23 remaining teams who are not ranked will compete in the White Race at 12:15 p.m. Since the RedHawks are ranked 13th in the Great Lakes Region, they will put their endurance to the test in the Blue Race.
“There will be lots of teams, and it’ll be a very crowded competitive situation,” head coach Warren Mandrell said. “It’ll be fun. It’ll be very similar to the Great Lakes Region meet in the numbers of athletes that are in the race, so this’ll be a good preview for that sort of a race.”
Miami will take on five of the best schools in the nation’s nine regions, including No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Colorado, No. 4 Oregon, No. 10 Princeton and No. 12 Indiana.
Miami will also see plenty of conference action at Pre-Nationals, facing off against Eastern Michigan. Akron and Central Michigan also hold regional rankings, seeded 11-12 consecutively. Conference foes Toledo, Ohio, Bowling Green, and Kent State will also be present at Pre-Nationals, but will compete in the White Race.
Unlike past years, Mandrell said this is the first year he has seen eight of the nine MAC teams on the men’s side register to race at Pre-Nationals. While Saturday’s race will be a good indicator of where each conference school stands, the actual MAC meet is what counts.
“If you beat them here, it’s nice but it doesn’t matter,” Mandrell said. “If they beat you, it’s nice, but it doesn’t matter. November 2 is the only one that anyone cares about, so we’ll just go over (to Pre-Nationals) and try to do the best we can, get everyone another racing experience and see if we can get five guys to run fast all on the same day.”
The Red and White had last week off from competition after taking third at the All-Ohio Championship Friday, Oct. 4. Senior Dave Wing was the team’s top scorer once again, finishing second overall behind Cedarville’s Matt Brooker. Wing’s 25:03.56 time made him the top finisher from Division 1 teams present at the meet.
Senior Matt Marol took second for Miami, finishing seventh overall in 25:25.27. Freshman Stephen Biebelhausen ran another solid race, taking third behind Marol in 25:45.83, finishing 17th overall. Sophomore Matt Stewart was the fourth finisher for the RedHawks, taking 32nd overall in 26:10.30. Junior Daniel Garleb was Miami's fifth and final scorer, going 61st overall in 26:45.78.
Following Pre-Nationals, the RedHawks will have another week off from competition to prepare for the conference meet held in Bowling Green, Ohio Saturday, Nov. 2. The MAC Championship is scheduled for 11 a.m.