By Grace Remington, For The Miami Student
The Miami University men's and women's cross country teams travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan for the Mid-American Conference Championships Saturday.
According to head coaches Warren Mandrell and Kelly Phillips, both squads are healthy and excited to run.
As reigning MAC Champions, the women's team plans to do nothing less than win the title again.
"It'll be a great battle," Phillips said. "There's no reason why we can't go in there and win."
Phillips expects to see the usual top scorers leading Miami again: seniors Jess Hoover, Anna Lamb and Elisa Frazier, and juniors Laura Bess and Brenna Poulsen.
"They all have had excellent individual performances throughout the year, but we need all nine runners to do well if we want to win," Phillips said.
Phillips thinks team effort is the key to victory.
"It all depends on team effort and who has the most stellar team," Phillips said. "It's about how the whole team runs, not individuals."
The RedHawk women have competed against most of the MAC schools thus far and feel they know their competition well. Northern Illinois University, University at Buffalo and Western Michigan University are the only teams they have not faced.
Phillips believes the University of Toledo and Western Michigan University are the biggest threats, as both squads are stacked with seniors and juniors. However, Phillips knows Miami can easily defeat them, as her team is built in the same way.
"It really comes down to who runs the toughest," Phillips said.
For the men, Mandrell expects to see junior Joe Stewart carry the team. As for who will finish after Stewart, it's a toss-up. Mandrell's only hope is that the team as a whole moves up closer to Stewart's position.
"Almost every time you never quite know what you'll end up with," Mandrell said. "One of the things we've been experiencing all year long is guys taking turns having good races. Now hopefully they can put it together on the same day. That would make a very nice team."
The men's squad understands how tough the competition will be, as it has raced against all the MAC opponents except Buffalo.
"Eastern Michigan beat everyone at Pre-Nationals reasonably comfortably, and Akron is the defending champion of MACs," Mandrell said. "Miami is probably a little ahead of [Ohio University], so we're right in the front mix of this match up."
Both races begin at 11 a.m.