By Grace Remington, For The Miami Student
In below freezing temperatures, the Miami University men's and women's cross country teams competed against 34 schools Friday in the Great Lakes Regional Championship in Madison, Wisconsin.
In the men's race, 25-degree weather and 9 mph gusts of wind didn't stop junior Joe Stewart from running one of his best races of the season. He covered the 10K distance in 30:29, earning eighth place overall.
"In the twenty-five years that I've been here, I believe that was the third highest [individual] finish for Miami," head coach Warren Mandrell said. "He certainly had a fantastic race."
With the performance, Stewart received an individual at-large bid for the NCAA National Championship. It is the first time a RedHawk runner has qualified for the national meet in six years.
"There are only 67 teams represented in this championship," Mandrell said. "If you think about it, that's on par with [the NCAA] basketball [bracket]. It's a big deal."
Stewart is eager for the opportunity.
"I'm super excited," Stewart said. "This is a great opportunity. I worked all season to reach this. I'll just have fun with it now that it's the last meet of the season."
As a team, the RedHawks finished 19th with 541 points. Host University of Wisconsin won the team event with 61 points, Michigan State University came in second with 82 and University of Michigan was third with 94.
Senior Dan Garleb finished second for the team, earning the 89th place in 32:03. Sophomore Vince Moeglin ran his first 10K in 32:50 to take 140th overall. Sophomore Stephen Bieblehausen improved his 10K time by 20 seconds with a time of 32:55, taking the 147th spot. Junior Ed Wigton (33:13; 157th), and freshmen Matt Bromley (33:14; 159th) and Jake Brumfield (34:19; 185th) rounded out the score for Miami.
"It was a brutal welcome to big-time cross country in those conditions," Mandrell said. "Since most of them were pretty young, our expectation was that it would be a little rough for them. At least it can't get any worse for the rest of their career."
On the women's side, senior Jess Hoover carved the way over the frigid 6K route. She finished 23rd overall with a time of 20:41, her second-fastest performance of the season. Hoover was named to the All-Great Lakes Regional Team following the race. However, she missed the cut that would have given her an individual berth to NCAA Nationals.
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"She ran really well and was in great shape, so it's disappointing," head coach Kelly Phillips said. "There were just other individuals who ran really well. It just goes to show how much better our conference has gotten over the years."
As a team, the 'Hawks placed 11th with 342 points. Michigan State ran away with the title with 28 points and four top 10 finishes. Wisconsin followed with 82 points and University of Toledo placed third with 133.
Junior Laura Bess was second on the team, earning 59th place with a time of 21:26. Senior Anna Lamb was close behind in 21:27, putting her in 62nd place. Freshman Sarra Taylor (22:01; 96th), junior Brenna Poulsen (22:08; 102nd), and seniors Elisa Frazier (22:41; 132nd) and Mattie Concayo (23:05; 155th) completed Miami's scoring seven.
"I thought we could be in the top eight," Phillips said. "We ran fine, but we weren't amazing."
Stewart travels to Terre Haute, Indiana Saturday to compete in NCAA Nationals. The race begins at 1 p.m. The women's 2014 season comes to a close with the conclusion of the Regional Championship.