OXFORD, Ohio - After enjoying a few days of training in the warm sun of Jacksonville, Fla. over spring break, the Miami University women's track and field team begins its 2013 outdoor season Saturday at the Black and Gold Challenge, hosted by Central Florida at the UCF Soccer and Track Complex.

The meet gets underway at 9 a.m. with the javelin, though no RedHawks are slated to compete in the event, followed by the hammer throw at 9:30 a.m., which includes freshman Amelia Strickler (Bay Village, Ohio) and redshirt senior Samantha Gable (Greenfield, Ind.). All the field events are contested first, though Strickler and Gable are Miami's only competitors in any field event. Action on the track begins at 1:30 p.m. with the 4x100m relay though Miami's first event is the 1500m run at 1:35 p.m., featuring sophomore Jess Hoover (Hilliard, Ohio), junior Erica Howes (Fairfax, Va.) and senior Monica Fischer (Cincinnati, Ohio). The meet concludes with the 4x400m relay at 3:30 p.m., in which the RedHawks have one team entered.

Miami will face good competition at the Black and Gold Challenge as the host Knights finished fifth at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend. Michigan, which placed 15th at the indoor championships, will also be in attendance, along with St. John's and in-state schools Florida International and Jacksonville.

The RedHawks are coming off a disappointing finish at the MAC Indoor Championships in their last outing, Feb. 22-23 three weeks ago. Miami placed eighth out of 12 teams at the meet, collecting 35.5 points. Senior Layne Baggett (Pittsburgh, Pa.) was one of the top RedHawk finishers, finishing fourth at the 60m hurdles, while sophomore Anna Lamb (Granville, Ohio) crossed in fourth in the 5000m run. Miami took fourth in the distance medley relay, as well.

Saturday's meet is the first step toward posting a better finish at the 2013 MAC Outdoor Championships. At last year's outdoor conference meet, the RedHawks placed fourth. Baggett will go for a third straight MAC title in the 100m hurdles, after winning it each of the last two seasons, while she ranks second in school history in the event. Baggett also ranks second  in program history in the 100m dash while Miami gets the school record holder in the event, redshirt senior Diona Graves (Fenton, Mo.), back after missing indoor season as she has one season of outdoor eligibility remaining (but did not have indoor eligibility).

The 'Hawks also get senior sprinter/hurdler Katie Scannell (Cortland, Ohio) back after she was injured late in last year's outdoor season and missed indoor competition this year while still recovering. Miami's other All-MAC performer returning from last year, in addition to Baggett, is redshirt junior Ashley Zaper (Whitehouse, Ohio), who took second in the heptathlon at last year's MAC Outdoor Championships and ranks second all-time at Miami in the event. Other key contributors for the RedHawks during outdoor season will be Gable, who ranks second at Miami in the hammer throw and fourth in the shot put, and junior Tori Paterra (Elizabeth, Pa.), who is the school record holder in the javelin and was a First-Team All-American last season when she placed seventh at the NCAA Championships. Junior Kori Tatman (Amanda, Ohio) will also be key in the pole vault, in which she ranks third in school history.

Following the Black and Gold Challenge, Miami will return to the south as it competes at the Vanderbilt Black and Gold Invitational in Nashville, Tenn. March 22-23.

--MURedHawks.com--