By Ben Blanchard, Staff Writer

The Miami University men’s and women’s track and field teams travel to Western Kentucky University for the Hilltopper Relays this weekend. The RedHawks look to improve upon strong performances last weekend at the Stanford Invite and Miami Duals and hope to take advantage of the favorable conditions this weekend.

“I think everyone’s excited to get good outdoor races for the first time this season, because the conditions in Oxford last weekend were absolutely horrible,” junior Andrew Dusing said.

The annual meet features 18 schools, including Louisville, Murray State, Northern Kentucky, Lindsey Wilson College and Kentucky Wesleyan and Marshall. Miami, Kent State, Mississippi Valley State, Southeast Missouri, SIUE, Alabama A&M, Tennessee State, Austin Peay, Jacksonville State and UT Martin are the Division I out-of-state entries. Grand Valley State and Wayne State, both Division II, complete the field.

Several of Miami’s standout distance runners will rest this weekend after their strong performances at Stanford, but the rest of Miami’s team will compete.

Standout junior shot-putter Arionna Darling scored in every indoor meet and looks to carry that momentum into the outdoor season. Freshman Jake Owens was Miami’s top sprinter during the indoor season, and he will look to contribute points in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and sprint relays during the outdoor season.

Last weekend, strong winds and rain forced officials to cancel the Miami Duals midway through Saturday afternoon, but not before several RedHawks dominated their events.

In the final race before the meet was cancelled, senior Kathie Wollney chased down first place in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal best of 1:02.08, claiming the fastest time in the MAC.

In the women’s 3000-meter race, Miami swept the top three spots, with sophomore Alesha Vovk leading the way in 10:01.1. Not to be outdone, the men swept the top five spots in their 3000m race. Sophomore Ryan Pitner narrowly outkicked fellow sophomore Jake Brumfield by .24 seconds to win the race.

Because the meet was cut short, there were no official team scores.

Miami also performed well in California at the Stanford Invitational. Senior Joe Stewart posted a career best of 29:03.79 in the 10,000-meter for the second fastest 10k in Miami history. He now ranks eighth in the NCAA.

Senior Laura Bess finished the 5000-meter in a personal best of 16:40.95. This is the fifth fastest time in Miami history and the fastest time in the MAC this season.

“I’m really excited to see how the team does this weekend, getting our first outdoor meet with good conditions,” Wollney said. “I expect to see lots of great performances.”

Miami competes in the Hilltopper Relays for the first time this weekend. The first gun sounds at the Charles Rueter Track at 1 p.m. Friday in Bowling Green, Ky.