EAST LANSING, Mich. - Facing a larger field and tougher competition than at the first meet of 2012, Miami sophomore Jess Hoover led the RedHawks women's cross country team in a solid outing Friday at the Spartan Invitational, hosted by Michigan State at Forest Akers East Golf Course.

Hoover (Hilliard, Ohio) was Miami's top finisher, placing 14th overall in 21:45 in the team's first 6K race of the season. She finished behind only runners from No. 11 Michigan, No. 13 Michigan State, Ohio State and one runner from Northwestern, as she finished 10 seconds ahead of Central Michigan's Krista Parks, who was the second individual from the MAC to cross the line among the three MAC teams competing. Although Hoover's time was a bit slower than last year's race due to a wet, slow course, she improved six places even with a deeper field than the 2011 Spartan Invitational.

Redshirt junior Monica Fischer (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman Brenna Poulsen (Indianapolis, Ind.) were Miami's next two finishers, crossing together in 22:25 in 37th and 38th place, respectively. Sophomore Elisa Frazier (Williamsville, N.Y.) took 52nd in 22:39 as the fourth RedHawk to complete the course while classmate Anna Lamb (Granville, Ohio) was not far behind in 54th with a time of 22:42, improving 12 places from a year ago.

Junior Erica Howes (Fairfax, Va.) was just two seconds back of Lamb to earn 58th place in a 6K personal-best 22:44. Freshman Laura Bess (Brownsburg, Ind.) completed Miami's top seven, clocking 22:53 to finish in 69th position in her first collegiate 6K.

The race did not have team scoring though the RedHawks likely would have finished fifth behind the four Big Ten teams as the Wolverines placed four runners in the top seven while the host Spartans were likely second. Northwestern had the top collegiate finisher, as Audrey Huth was second overall in 21:16 behind Sara Kroll, who ran unattached and won the race in 21:10. The Buckeyes put two runners in the top 12 but Miami was much more competitive against Ohio State compared to the first time they met at the Flyer 5K Challenge Sept. 1.

A total of 28 colleges and universities were represented at the race, including MAC foes Central Michigan and Western Michigan, though the RedHawks would have beat both teams had the meet been scored. The race featured a total of 309 runners.

Miami next runs Saturday, Sept. 29 in its second and final 5K of the year at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, hosted by Loyola-Chicago along the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. The race begins at 12:45 p.m. ET.

--MURedHawks.com--