TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Miami University women’s cross country team racked up career- and season-highs this morning at the 2013 Pre-National Invitational, placing 24th out of a competitive 49-team field. The Invitational was held on LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course, home to this year’s NCAA Championship in late November.
Despite 340 runners crowding around the starting line at 11:40 a.m., junior Jess Hoover managed to avoid the jam and race out in front as she has done in Miami’s four previous meets. She was the second Mid-American Conference (MAC) runner to cross the finish line, and took 48th overall in a personal-best 21:00.34.
Redshirt junior Melissa Girgis also ran the best race of her career today, finishing the 6K in a personal-best 21:27.68, taking 99th overall.
“Melissa ran really well,” head coach Kelly Phillips said. “She ran really confident, and she just went out smart and kept picking people off the whole race, so she ran really well.”
Sophomore Laura Bess was Miami’s third scorer, finishing 179th overall in a personal-best 21:56.54. Sophomore Julia Valencia clocked in with a season-high 22:03.31, earning her a 198th-place finish. Junior Elisa Frazier then rounded out Miami’s scoring five, finishing in 215th with a season-high 22:10.16.
While the RedHawks were unable to keep up with the Toledo Rockets, who finished 14th with 494 points, their 739 points placed them above the Central Michigan Chippewas, who took 33rd, and the Ohio University Bobcats who finished 41st.
Miami’s total time was also faster than the times of conference rivals Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Akron and Kent State, which all ran in the White Race at 12:15 p.m.
While not the fastest MAC school to race today, Phillips said she expects the conference meet in a couple weeks to be a great race, particularly against Ohio. Miami and Ohio have competed against each other twice already this season, first at the Miami Invitational, and then at the Wake Forest Invitational.
“If you look at the results today, you say, okay, we aren’t even in the same league as Toledo, but it’s just when you have this many people,” Phillips said. “At conference, it’s going to be much smaller numbers and there’s not going to be as much play between the spots, so if Anna (Lamb), Melissa (Girgis), and Jess (Hoover) run well like they are capable of doing, it’s going to be a great race between us and Ohio.”
Three RedHawks also raced in the Pre-National Open race, all placing in the top 60 of the 102-runner field. Junior Alex Chitwood was Miami’s top finisher, taking 19th in 22:29.68. Junior Mattie Moncayo took 30th in 22:45.26, and freshman Jackie Mullins finished 56th in 23:26.94.
No. 6 Georgetown, which is ranked first in the Mid-Atlantic Region, won the Pre-Nationals championship race with 117 points, followed by No. 2 Florida State, which took second with 162 points. No. 20 Butler, which is ranked third in the Great Lakes Region, took third with 176 points. No. 16 Virginia showed why it is ranked first in the Southeast Region, placing fourth with 191 points. No. 6 Oregon rounded out the meet’s top five, taking fifth with 214 points.
The RedHawks will not race next weekend, but will return to action Saturday, Nov. 2 for the 2013 MAC Championship in Bowling Green, Ohio. The race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.