By Coburn Gillies, Staff Writer

The Miami University cross country team travels to Lexington, Kentucky this weekend to compete in the Bluegrass Invitational.

The men’s and women’s squads enter the meet fresh off Saturday’s fourth place finish at the Flyer 5k Challenge in Dayton, Ohio. According to senior Joe Stewart, it was merely a tuneup.

“[Head] Coach [Willy Wood] had us on a leash,” Stewart said. “It was more of a workout than anything.”

If last week was a glorified workout, this week will have a different feel to it.

“I’m excited to actually get a real time this week,” senior Megan Beaver said.

To the team members, this meet has an increased importance to it:  it will be the first time this season Wood lets the runners off the “leash,” and it marks the first 8k of the season.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Stewart said. “We have had some good workouts and worked hard all summer so we should put up some solid numbers.”

The team has ambitious goals heading into the race.

“Our goal as a team, we would like to place pretty high up,” Beaver said. “We want to send a message to the rest of the conference that we will be a dominant force in the MAC this season.”

Stewart had similar sentiments.

“A top-five finish would be great,” he said. “It was a competitive meet when we raced here two years ago and it would be a great confidence booster to the team if we left Lexington with a good result.”

Sophomores Matthew Bromley and Jake Brumfield, redshirt junior Matthew Dietrich and Stewart lead the men’s squad. Brumfield was the first RedHawk to cross the finish line in Dayton last weekend with a 16:16 time.

On the women’s side, senior Laura Bess, junior Lauren Hoover, sophomore Maria Scavuzzo and Beaver are the runners to watch. Bess and Scavuzzo both posted 19:42 time last weekend, placing 25th and 26th, respectively.

For the freshman team members who will travel out of state for the first time in their collegiate cross country careers, Beaver, had some words of advice.

“The message is and always will be, give your best effort,” Beaver said. “Remember why you’re here and how lucky you are to be running cross country, and never forget that we as a team run for Miami.”

The first race begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.