Nov. 11, 2011

OXFORD, Ohio - After disappointing finishes at the Mid-American Conference Championships two weeks ago, both the Miami University men's and women's cross country teams are looking to bounce back with a strong showing Saturday at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship, hosted by Toledo at Ottawa Park. The men's 10K race, Miami's first 10K of the year, begins at noon while the women's 6K race follows at 1:15 p.m. with a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships on the line.

The women's race consists of 34 teams, highlighted by No. 12 Michigan State and No. 15 Michigan. Two other schools in the region are also nationally ranked in No. 24 Notre Dame and No. 28 Wisconsin. Those four teams also make up the top four teams in the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Poll. Host and Mid-American Conference foe Toledo is fifth followed by Ohio State at No. 6, MAC rival Central Michigan at No. 7 and Indiana at No. 8. The RedHawks are ranked ninth in the regional poll while fellow MAC members Ohio and Eastern Michigan are 10th and 11th, respectively.

On the men's side, 31 teams will run Saturday, led by No. 1 Wisconsin. Indiana is ranked seventh nationally while Michigan is No. 19 and Ohio State is 28th. Like on the women's side, those four teams are the top four teams in the regional poll. Notre Dame is No. 5 followed by 2011 MAC champion Eastern Michigan at No. 6. Central Michigan at 11th, Kent State at 13th and Ohio at No. 15 are the other MAC schools in the regional rankings.

At the MAC Championship on Oct. 29, the RedHawk women placed third out of 12 teams with 83 points behind the Rockets and Chippewas. Senior Maggie Bingham (Carmel, Ind.) earned Second-Team All-MAC honors for the third straight year and led Miami for the third time this season by finishing eighth while freshman Jess Hoover (Hilliard, Ohio) also landed on the All-MAC Second Team, placing 12th. Freshman Alex Chitwood (Carmel, Ind.), redshirt junior Jillian Dickman (Madison, Ohio) and senior Kelley Miller (Dublin, Ohio) rounded out Miami's scoring five all finishing between 19th and 24th.

The Miami men had a much tougher day at the 8K MAC Championship, finishing eighth out of nine teams with 173 points, which was its worst finish at the league meet since 1989. Junior Jarrod Eick (Hartville, Ohio) paced the `Hawks for the fourth time this year, finishing fifth to garner First-Team All-MAC honors. Sophomore Dave Wing (Naperville, Ill.) was second for Miami, crossing in 21st, while redshirt sophomore Matt Marol (Evanston, Ill.) redshirt junior Brett Wagner (Toledo, Ohio) and redshirt freshman Daniel Garleb (Pickerington, Ohio) rounded out the scoring five for the RedHawks.

At last year's Great Lakes Regional, Rachel Patterson, who is now graduated, earned a spot in the NCAA Championship by finishing fifth. She led the Miami women to a seventh-place finish at the race out of 33 teams. Bingham is Miami's top returning finisher after placing 34th as the RedHawks' second scorer. Dickman and Miller placed 60th and 72nd, respectively, as Miami's fourth and fifth scorers at last year's regional meet.

The men took 18th at last year's regional but Miami's top two finishers both graduated. Marol is the top returner from the meet, as he was third on the team in 94th place. Eick took 101st as the fourth scorer and redshirt junior David Eichenberger (Plainfield, Ind.), who struggled at the 2011 MAC Championships after returning from an injury, was Miami's fifth scorer in 112th. He looks to have a stronger race this time out after having an extra two weeks to recover from the injury.

The top two teams at each of the nine regional championships automatically earn a spot in the NCAA Championships, which are held Monday, Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. Third- and fourth-place teams at each regional are then under consideration for one of 13 at-large berths to the NCAA meet, which are announced Sunday evening. The top 25 individual finishers at the regional earn All-Region honors while the top four individual finishers from non-qualifying NCAA Championship teams at the regional meet will also earn a spot in the NCAA meet.