OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University women’s cross country team will face its most challenging competition of the season Saturday morning when the RedHawks take on the 2013 Indiana State Pre-National Invitational hosted by Indiana State University. The women will race at 11:40 a.m. at 11:40 a.m. on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, which will serve as the 2013 NCAA Championship course in November.

The Red and White will see a talented 85-team field Saturday morning, but will compete against 50 teams as the field will be split up for two separate races. Miami will race in the seeded Blue Race, which consists of 51 regionally ranked teams. The White Race, which consists of only some teams who are ranked regionally, will take place following the men’s and women’s Blue Races.

In such a crucial meet that can give team’s a solid idea of where they stand before hitting the conference meet, head coach Kelly Phillips said it will be important for her team to know where they are at time wise during Saturday’s 6K.

“Because in every race they’ve run so far, they are – even in Louisville – they’ve been good enough to always be in the front or near the front so you can kind of know where you are,” Phillips said. “In this kind of race, you can be in 80th place running well and not know it because you’re so far back. They have to really pay attention to the splits and where they are in the race and not get swallowed by 100, 200, 300 people.”

While each team in the Blue Race is ranked regionally, 13 of those teams are also nationally ranked. Florida State, which sits first in the South Region, is No. 2 nationally. Miami will also face No. 5 Georgetown, which is first in the Mid-Atlantic Region, No. 16 Virginia, which is the top ranking school in the Southeast Region, and No. 19 Oklahoma State, which sits in first in the Midwest Region. No. 14 Michigan, which is ranked second in the Miami’s own Great Lakes Region will also compete in the Blue Race.

Following the latest USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Poll, Miami sits in ninth behind conference foe Toledo who is ranked seventh. The RedHawks will not only face the Rockets Saturday, but will also contend with the Ohio Bobcats who are 10th regionally, and the Central Michigan Chippewas who are ranked 12th.

“It’ll give us a good idea of how prepared we are for MACs,” Phillips said. “It’s very different because if you have a great front runner in this kind of race, you could do a lot better against another team because there’s so many people in between, so the scoring could be very different than it would be at conference, but if we can do well here it’ll give us a lot of confidence going into conference.”

Miami will run 10 RedHawks at Pre-Nationals this year, with seven set to compete in the Blue Race and three in the Open Race, which is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. Juniors Jess Hoover, Anna Lamb, Melissa Girgis, and Elisa Frazier, and sophomores Laura Bess, Julia Valencia and Brenna Poulsen will run in the Blue Race, while juniors Alex Chitwood and Mattie Moncayo, and freshman Jackie Mullins will compete in the open race.

This will be Miami’s second 6K race of the year, after finishing third at its first 6K of the season at the Wake Forest Invitational September 20. Hoover paced the RedHawks, finishing sixth overall in 21:19.60. Lamb was the team’s second scorer in 11th place, followed by Girgis who took 12th. Bess came in as Miami’s fourth scorer in 30th place, while Moncayo rounded out the team’s scoring five one second later in 31st.

In Miami’s last competition at the Greater Louisville Classic, the team finished fifth out of the 20 Division 1 schools that raced in the 5K, placing behind Kentucky, Texas A&M, Eastern Kentucky and Louisville.  Hoover was Miami’s first finisher, taking 8th in 17:31.05. Girgis was the team’s second scorer in 26th, followed by Lamb in 27th. Bess and Poulsen rounded out Miami’s five scorers, taking 42nd and 60th overall.

Following Pre-Nationals, the RedHawks will have a week off from competition before traveling to Bowling Green, Ohio Saturday, Nov. 2 for the MAC Championship.