By Grace Remington, For The Miami Student
Photo by Kim Parent
The Miami University men's and women's cross country teams headed into Saturday's Miami Invitational with hopes of extending their conference lead over Ohio University, and they did just that.
The women swept top four of the top five spots, and the men claimed 10 of the top 20.
For the women, it was senior Jess Hoover who led the way. She started out strong and maintained a 100-yard lead for the majority of the race. Hoover finished first with a time of 17:19.
Senior Anna Lamb finished 14 seconds behind Hoover to claim the second spot and a time of 17:33. Senior Melissa Girgis and junior Laura Bess finished in fourth and fifth. Sophomore Brenna Poulsen rounded out Miami's half of the top ten by taking seventh place.
"This is what I thought we were all along," head coach Kelly Phillips said.
After a less-than-average performance in a humid 95-degree meet last weekend, Phillips was elated to see her 'Hawks race to their full potential.
"I'm so excited," Phillips said. "They all came together and ran hard at the front from the start."
On the men's side, junior Joe Stewart led the Red and White. He placed second with a time of 14:50. In his first race of the season, Stewart managed to set a new record for the course alongside Ohio University's Kurt Stienmuller, who won with a time of 14:46. The previous record was set last year by Miami's Dave Wing at 14:55.
"It was a great opener for Joe," head coach Warren Mandrell said.
Senior Daniel Garleb returned to the top five with a fourth place finish and a time of 15:10.
"It was nice to have Dan back in there," Mandrell said. "He's been doing a lot better during this last week and a half."
Another runner Mandrell was impressed with is redshirt freshman Andrew Dusing. Dusing ran a 15:13 to place fifth. It was his first time scoring for the team.
Being on home territory had much to do with the RedHawks' success.
"The girls loved racing at home," Phillips said. "The atmosphere was fantastic, there was a great vibe, and the weather was perfect. They were fired up from the moment they stepped on the course."
Mandrell thinks some of his runners may have gotten a little too excited about the home environment. A few members of the squad began the race in the front, but started racing "way over their heads" and ended up below the top ten.
"Sometimes that extra enthusiasm at home can backfire a bit," Mandrell said.
However, Mandrell was content with his group of five through eight runners. They each crossed the finish line within three seconds of each other.
"They went out and were very aggressive," Mandrell said. "The real key is how close together the pack was."
The women have a break until Saturday, Sept. 27 when they travel to Minneapolis for the Roy Griak Invitational. The men will continue their campaign this Saturday at the Woody Greeno Nebraska Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska.