OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University women’s cross country team will put all their training and endurance to the test at the 2013 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship Saturday afternoon. The women’s 6K race will begin at 12 p.m. on Bowling Green State University’s Forrest Creason Golf Course.
The RedHawks will race on familiar ground this weekend after competing on the same course at the Mel Brodt Collegiate Invitational earlier this season. Junior Jess Hoover paced Miami against conference foes Toledo, Bowling Green, Ball State and Eastern Michigan, placing third overall in 17:11.91.
Given that Hoover has paced the RedHawks in all five of their regular-season meets, she is looked to lead the team in Saturday's conference meet. The junior started the year with a first-place finish at the 2013 Miami Invitational, and has gained momentum throughout the season. At the 2013 Pre-National Invitational hosted by Indiana State University October 19, Hoover completed the race as the MAC’s second finisher in a career-high 21:00.34.
Hoover will race alongside teammates Melissa Girgis, Elisa Frazier, Julia Valencia, Anna Lamb, Laura Bess, Alex Chitwood, Brenna Poulsen, and Mattie Moncayo in the hopes of earning the 2013 MAC title. Based on their performances this season, head coach Kelly Phillips said they’re up for the challenge.
“They just have to run smart,” Phillips said. “They’re fit, they’re ready…they can’t be anymore ready physically.”
At last year’s MAC Championship, the RedHawk women finished runner-up with 81 points behind the Toledo Rockets, who won the meet for a third consecutive time with a league record 24 points.
Four Miami runners placed in the top 20, beginning with alumna Monica Fischer, who finished tenth overall. Hoover was the team’s second finisher, placing 15th in 22:11.0, followed by Frazier who placed two spots behind Hoover in 22:11.9. Senior Erica Howes was Miami’s fourth scorer in 18th with a time of 22:15.1, and Poulsen rounded out the team’s scorers in 25th in 22:22.8.
Similar to last season, Miami sits behind Toledo in the regional poll, ranked eighth in the Great Lakes Region, while Toledo is ranked seventh. Two other MAC schools hold regional rankings, including Central Michigan who is tenth and Ohio University who sits in 13th. Toledo is favored to win a fourth-straight MAC title, but Phillips said there is no reason her team can’t upset the Rockets.
“Honestly, they don’t have any (challenges),” Phillips said. “There’s no reason they shouldn’t run great. The weather’s going to be great, the course is great, they’re an older team now, and they have some maturity.”
The RedHawks will enter the MAC Championship off a strong finish at the 2013 Pre-National Invitational, where they were the second MAC team to finish the race, placing 24th out of a 49-team field with 739 points.
Hoover was the second MAC runner to finish the race, followed by Girgis, who placed second for the RedHawks in a personal-best 21:27.69. Bess was the team’s third scorer, also in a personal-best 21:56.54, followed by Valencia who finished with a season-high 22:03.31. Frazier was the fifth and final scorer for the Red and White, finishing with a season-high 22:10.16.
Following the MAC Championship, the RedHawks will compete at the Great Lakes Regional Championship in Madison, Wis. Friday, Nov. 15, where they will battle for a spot in the NCAA Championship November 23.