By Coburn Gillies, The Miami Student
Miami University cross country traveled to Lexington, Ky. for the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet Saturday and returned with several personal best times. The men's squad finished ninth out of 31 teams with 285 points, while the women placed ninth out of 35 teams with 294 points.
Liberty University won the men's competition with 159 points, while Washington State won the women's contest with 176 points.
"The meet went OK," Alesha Vovk said. "Ninth place isn't the best finish, but it's OK considering how crowded the race was and how large the field of teams was for the race."
Senior Joe Stewart led the way in the men's race, placing second overall with a personal best 8K time of 24:07. Senior Zack McBride was second for Miami, coming in 33rd overall with a personal best 24:47 time. Junior Andrew Dusing was 59th overall with a time of 25:06 as Miami's third finisher.
Junior Cody Reisterer (83rd; 25:15), sophomore Matt Bromley (108th; 25:32), redshirt junior Matt Dietrich (126th; 25:42) and sophomore Jake Brumfield (146th; 25:54) rounded out the scoring. Reisterer, Bromley and Dietrich all posted new personal bests.
"I think we could have done better in some places," Stewart said. "But, it's important that we stay competitive against those [Mid-American Conference] teams so that way, come the MAC meet, we are ready."
On the women's side, senior Laura Bess led the RedHawks with a seventh place finish and new personal best 20:59 time. Senior Brenna Poulsen came in second for the 'Hawks, taking 27th overall with a time of 21:27 for a new personal record. Sophomore Maria Scavuzzo crossed the line in 22:06 for 78th overall.
Vovk (86th; 22:12), senior Megan Beaver (96th; 22:17), junior Lauren Hoover (124th; 22:35) and sophomore Sarah Starrett (131st; 22:39) closed out the scoring for the Miami women. Vovk, Beaver and Hoover all set personal record times.
"We are a completely different team at this point than we were last year, and it's a good kind of change," Vovk said. "Almost everybody on the team has PR-ed once or twice. It's exciting to see."
"Everyone has PR-ed at least once, I believe," he said. "So, clearly, improvement has been made."
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Though the RedHawks show improvement individually, head coach Willy Wood said the team must work on pack running in crowds.
"We need to work on the pack between our fifth and seventh runners," Wood said. "That's where most meets are won and lost."
Stewart shared the same concern.
"Pack running was shaky," Stewart said. "But it should get better when the number of the field go down. That still isn't an excuse for shakiness."
Miami has a break next weekend before the MAC Championship Oct. 31 in Akron, Ohio.