The postseason begins for Miami cross country teams at home on October 28th for the Mid-American Conference Championship. With a promising regular season, the question lies ahead how the RedHawks stack up against the best of the MAC.
In last year’s race at Kent State University, the women finished seventh with 145 points and an average time of 22 minutes and 14 seconds. Now-senior Maria Scavuzzo led the team by placing fifth individually with her time of 21 minutes and ten seconds.
Yet, there is reason to be optimistic due to the strides over one season. This year, ten runners have times faster 23 minutes in the six-kilometer, where last year there was only seven.
Noticeable improvements have come from sophomore Carly Davis and senior Sarah Starrett, which were seen mainly at the NCAA Division I Pre-Nationals. Davis ran a personal best by over 25 seconds in her first race leading the RedHawks, while Starrett — the team’s fourth finisher — set a personal best by over 30 seconds.
As for racing at home, Starrett believes it will give them an advantage.
“We’re all ready for a great race on a course we know and love,” she said. “We’ve worked out on this course many times so we shouldn’t be surprised in any way and as long as we remember to race as a team, I think we’ll be in for an exciting day.”
The women won their last MAC Championship in 2013, edging out the University of Toledo by three points. Eastern Michigan has won the last two years, and returns six of their seven fastest runners.
Alongside last year’s individual winner, Jordan McDermitt of Eastern Michigan, three runners from the University of Toledo and Redshirt sophomore Rachel Walny of Bowling Green State University should be near the front.
Walny was last year’s runner-up and ran a time of 20 minutes and 25 seconds at the NCAA Division I Pre-Nationals. Her time was only four seconds by McDermitt, who led the Eagles at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational.
The men finished second in last year’s MAC race, where Eastern Michigan’s top five runners went one through five individually. Redshirt senior Matt Bromley led the ‘Hawks with a tenth individual placing.
Eastern Michigan returns four of their top five runners, and have last year’s OHSAA State Track and Field Championship 3200 meters champion freshman Hunter Moore. Senior Abel Flores has the team’s fastest time in 24 minutes and 17 seconds from the Notre Dame Invitational.
The Eagles have dominated this millennium, with 13 conference championships in the last 17 races and seven consecutive. The RedHawks have won 20 overall, seven consecutive between 1950 and 1956, which is one less than the Eagles’ championship total.
Yet, what could be the RedHawks’ strength could be the Eagles’ weakness. Miami’s pack presence could make this a very interesting race, as the ‘Hawks have 13 runners under 26 minutes in the eight-kilometer distance. The Eagles only have eight runners under 26 minutes.
“We need our top three guys to be aggressive and break up their lead pack,” last year’s MAC Freshman of the Year David Coffey said. “To utilize our depth and put as many of our guys as we can in front of Eastern’s fourth and fifth runners.”
Coffey owns the team’s second fastest time in 24 minutes and 36 seconds, which he set at the Pre-Nationals meet.
Other runners to watch are sophomore Kyle Bussard from Ohio University, junior Noah Schaub from Bowling Green State University and freshman Logan Kleam from Central Michigan University.
The race begins at 11 a.m. with the women’s six-kilometer race and the men’s eight-kilometer races begins at noon.