MU set for MAC Championships
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 21:10
Both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams have been waiting for this Saturday all year.
The teams travel to Buffalo, NY to compete in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships. Last year the men finished eighth and the women finished third.
“We should be one of the top three teams,” men’s Head Coach Warren Mandrell said. “We have had some decent depth [this year]; all nine guys are in a healthy state for the first time.”
The men have had two front-runners this year: senior Jarrod Eick and redshirt senior Steve Kiplagat. Mandrell does not know who will finish first Saturday.
“I’ll flip a coin, we will find out,” Mandrell said. “Kiplagat and Eick have run very well this year.”
Mandrell expects junior Dave Wing to take back his position as the number three runner after missing the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville, Ky. two weeks ago.
“[Wing] has been fully practicing for two weeks,” Mandrell said. “[Redshirt sophomore] Dan Garleb has been having great practices; he has been close all year.”
Mandrell expects the RedHawks’ to face tough competition Saturday.
“Eastern Michigan University will challenge us, they’re the defending champions,” Mandrell said. “Central Michigan [University] is also very good, they beat us by a little bit at Pre-Nationals.”
The women hope to improve their finish as well, but the competition will not make this a simple task.
“Ohio [University] has a very good team,” Head Coach Kelly Phillips said. “Central Michigan will be up there too. Team-wise it will be [the University of] Toledo, us, Ohio and Central Michigan.”
Sophomore Jess Hoover has been the women’s front-runner all year and said the RedHawks have not raced to their potential thus far.
“We haven’t had a day where everyone ran their absolute best, which is exciting,” Hoover said. “If everyone ran their hardest we could surprise some people.”
Toledo has been the highest ranked MAC team all year and is the ’Hawks top challenger.
“We can surprise Toledo,” Phillips said. “They’re beatable and we’re good enough to beat them.”
Phillips said she has the team to defeat the Rockets and win the MAC.
“[Hoover] has by far been our strongest runner; the great thing is the depth of our team,” Phillips said. “My lofty goal is to have all nine runners in the top 25.”
Hoover said if she can stay at the front of the race she would be satisfied.
“Ohio has a good front-runner, she is a smart runner,” Hoover said. “I want to be up in the front pack, hopefully top five or top two.”
Hoover finished 12th in the MAC Championships last year as a true freshman and said the team is capable of beating favored Toledo Saturday.
“If we come out focused and strong we’ll give them a run for their money.”