OXFORD, Ohio - With cross country season less than two months away, Miami University head women's cross country coach Kelly Phillips announced the RedHawks 2012 schedule Thursday, which features at least six meets, each in different states.

"We are really excited about the schedule this year, changing things up a bit to get a more competitive schedule," Phillips said. "Unfortunately we won't be going to All-Ohio Championships this year, we love running on that course, but with such a young team I felt like it was imperative that we competed against some tough competition so we are prepared for the NCAA Regional meet."†

Miami opens its campaign Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Flyer 5K Challenge, making its ninth straight appearance at the University of Dayton-hosted meet. The RedHawks have won the meet four of the last five years, placing second last season despite resting some of the team's top runners for a home meet the following week.

Two weeks later on Friday, Sept. 14, Miami travels north to East Lansing, Mich. to take part in the Spartan Invitational for the fifth straight year. The meet, hosted by Michigan State University, is the lone unscored meet on Miami's slate and its first 6K race. In place of the All-Ohio Championships, the 'Hawks will then compete at the 5K Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational in Chicago, hosted by Loyola University, Saturday, Sept. 29.

In preparation for the NCAA Championships, Miami will run at Pre-Nationals Saturday, Oct. 13 in Louisville, Ky. The RedHawks will be entered in the meet for the first time since 2009. The 6K race takes place at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, which is the same course that will be used for the 2012 NCAA Championships.

The Pre-Nationals meet also serves as a tune-up before the Mid-American Conference Championship, which is set for Saturday, Oct. 27 in Buffalo, N.Y. and is hosted by the University at Buffalo. Miami won MAC titles in 2008 and 2009 and has finished third each of the last two seasons. The MAC Championship is also a 6K race.

The RedHawks then make the trek to Madison, Wis. Friday, Nov. 9 for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship, where they will look to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The 6K regional race is hosted by the University of Wisconsin while Miami placed seventh out of 33 teams a year ago when the meet was in Rochester, Mich. To clinch a spot at the NCAA Championships, which are slated for Saturday, Nov. 17 and hosted by the University of Louisville, the 'Hawks would need a top-two team finish at the Great Lakes Regional while 13 at-large teams among the nine regionals also qualify for the NCAA meet.

Miami loses three runners from last year's team, including three-time All-MAC performer Maggie Bingham, but returns its No. 2 and 3 scorers from last year's MAC meet, led by rising sophomore and Second-Team All-MAC performer Jess Hoover, while classmate Alex Chitwood was Miami's other scorer. The RedHawks bring back three scorers from the 2011 Great Lakes Regional race in Hoover, rising junior Kate Carter and rising redshirt junior Monica Fischer while adding eight freshmen for 2012.

--MURedHawks.com--