Patrick Keck, The Miami Student

The Miami University men’s and women’s cross country teams compete today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 2016 NCAA Division I Great Lakes Regional.

The competition in this race is arguably the best that the ‘Hawks have faced in the 2016 campaign. Both the men and women’s races face four teams ranked in the Nov. 1 USTFCCCA poll, including Mid-American Conference Champions Eastern Michigan University.

Eastern Michigan, ranked 25th in the men’s poll, is joined by No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 18 Michigan State University and No. 29 University of Michigan.

Last year, Miami’s front runner in the race, now-graduate Joe Stewart, qualified for the NCAA Cross Country National Championship with a time of 30 minutes and 27 seconds in the 10-kilometer race.

The team would go on to finish 12th with 313 points in the 30-team field, the third-best team in the MAC behind Eastern Michigan and Akron. Eastern Michigan did not earn an at-large bid to Nationals, as only Michigan and MSU would make it out.

Finishing 72nd was the ‘Hawks fastest returner time, as now-junior Matt Bromley clocked in at 32:29. Bromley currently holds the team’s fifth-fastest 8K time in 25:32.

The team has maintained a pack mentality throughout this season. In MU’s last race at the MAC Championships, Bromley led the ‘Hawks to a second place finish. Team running was key, as Bromley and the RedHawks fifth runner, senior Stephen Biebelhausen finished only ten seconds apart.

“The team wants to go out and compete as a pack,” Bromley said. “Based on how we have been running lately, we think we can finish in the top 10. The best way for us to beat some of the upper teams is to run as a pack and try and get our fifth man in front of theirs.”

As for the battle for the individual championship, only two of last year’s top 10 finishers return. Those two, three-time MAC Champion Nick Raymond of EMU and 2016 Big Ten Cross Country Champion Morgan McDonald of Wisconsin, are expected to battle out front.

The women’s race is headlined by No. 5 Michigan, No. 13 EMU, No. 14 University of Notre Dame and No. 22 MSU.

Leading the ‘Hawks to their fourteenth place team finish last year was graduate Laura Bess, who finished fifteenth individually. Miami went on to place fifth among MAC schools, and 1:57 separated the RedHawks’ first and fifth runner.

Junior Maria Scavuzzo returns with the fastest returner time from last year’s race, in which she ran in 22 minutes and 25 seconds. Scavuzzo’s personal record came this season in 21 minutes and 10 seconds, good for a fifth overall at the MAC Championships.

Look for the ‘Hawks to run with passion as they try to erase the memory of a disappointing seventh place finish at the MAC Championships.

“Our goal for Friday is to race as such to put us in the position to be in the top 10, and just to be confident and trust each other and run as one so that we can be top 10 and have great races to finish off the season,” freshman Carly Davis said.

Expect an intriguing race between Notre Dame’s front runner Anna Rohrer and Michigan’ Erin Finn, as both are coming off conference wins. Rohrer won the ACC title in a new PR of 19 minutes and 26 seconds in the 6K while Finn took home her ninth overall Big Ten championship.

The 2016 Division I Great Lakes Regional will take place at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course. The women’s 6k begins at noon with the men’s 10k following at 1 p.m.

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