By Grace Remington, For The Miami Student
With veteran rosters, the Miami University men's and women's cross country teams have high hopes for the upcoming season.
For the men, redshirt senior Daniel Garleb and juniors Joe Stewart, Matt Stewart, Zack McBride and Ryan Moncrieff will play a big part of the team's success.
Garleb graduated in May and has received a full-time job offer; however, after the Mid-American Conference Championship, he still had another season of eligibility. With the permission of his employer, he has decided to return for another season.
"It's an interesting story line because this obviously requires a lot of sacrifice to give up a real job," head coach Warren Mandrell said.
Part of Garleb's motivation in returning was his hope for improvement at the MAC Championship. Last year, Miami placed 12th out of 34 teams at the NCAA Regionals and sixth at the MAC Championship.
"We had a pretty crummy performance at the MAC last year, so it's easy to improve," Garleb said. "We were a lot better than how we performed. We just had a few unfortunate races."
One of the main reasons behind the team's disappointing finishes was injuries.
"Obviously they train very, very hard," Mandrell said. "Things can go awry with that."
According to Garleb, the runners felt "burned out" at the end of the season. Consequently, Mandrell has modified the team's workouts.
"We're starting to slow up the workouts," Garleb said. "We're now more strategic, and that helps with longevity."
With a strong core group of returning runners, Garleb thinks the year looks promising.
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"Every year our main goal is to win the MAC meet and this year we have a legitimate shot," Garleb said. "We don't have any front runners, but we have a solid pack. Our feelings are pretty optimistic."
The women's squad opens its season with high expectations after a stellar 2013 season. Last year, the RedHawks placed 11th in the Regionals competition and won the MAC Championship.
"Obviously our goal this year is to be repeat champions," head coach Kelly Phillips said.
The 'Hawks graduated only one runner and gained seven freshmen. All of the top seven runners that participated in the MAC championship last year return.
"We're aiming high," senior Jess Hoover said. "We set some of those big goals early on. I think we have the ability to be a national-quality-caliber team."
Phillips agreed with Hoover's goal-setting. Phillips hopes for the team to reach the NCAA Championship.
"I think we are in a great opportunity to become one of the top 20 teams in the country," Phillips said.
With much anticipation for the upcoming season, the RedHawks are eager to race and begin training with each other again.
"There's always those nervous feelings before the season starts, but it's an exciting nervous," Hoover said.
The men's season opens with the Flyer 5K Challenge Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, and the women begin Sept. 5 at the Ohio Invitational in Athens, Ohio.
This story was published in the August 26, 2014 edition of The Miami Student under the title "RedHawks have high hopes for season."