Melissa Maykut, Staff Writer

(Contributed photo)

The Miami University men’s and women’s cross country teams will open their seasons in Kettering, Ohio Sept. 4 for the Dayton Flyer 5K Invitational.

The women’s team looks to race to another first place victory in Dayton, while the men’s team hopes to improve their second place finish from last season.

The women’s cross country team got their 2009 season off to a fervent start, placing first out of six teams at the Dayton Flyer Invitational. Once the first race of the season was out of the way, the girls ran through the season to a second Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship, and first year Head Coach Kelly Phillips was named the 2009 MAC coach of the year.

The pressure is on this year for the RedHawks and Phillips to start the season off with another win at the Dayton Flyer 5K. With seniors Amanda Mirochna, Rachel Patterson and Katie Lenahan leading the team, the RedHawks are stronger and more determined than ever to run to victory this Saturday.

“We just have to get the first race jitters out of the way,” Mirochna said. “It’s almost like forgetting how to race. We just have to get back into it. This race is a stepping stone for us.” 

Mirochna helped lead the ‘Hawks to their 2009 Dayton Flyer triumph by placing 9th overall, while Lenahan placed 5th overall and Patterson was out with an injury. This year, however, the team is healthy and all three seniors are ready to race on Saturday.

“We have a strong mental attitude this year,” Mirochna said. “We are focusing on staying healthy. We know we can do it.”

The men’s team is also ready to kick off their season with a sound win Sept. 4. Last season, the men’s team was ranked second following preseason, and finished second behind Dayton University at the Dayton Flyer Invitational.

The men’s season was considerably less successful than the women’s team due to illnesses and injuries. However, with a new stretching routine to help keep the men loose and prevent injuries, the men’s team is ready to start their season off with a win.

“We have a younger team, but we still have some older experience,” senior Michael Perry said. “One of our strengths is that we have six or seven guys that are really close and are running really well.”

Michael Perry came in 10th overall at last season’s Dayton Flyer 5K and is expected to be the RedHawks’ leading runner this year.

“A lot of guys on the team have already run this course that the invitational is held, so it is fun for the guys to see how they have progressed since high school,” Head Coach Waren Mandrell said.

While the Dayton Flyer 5K Invitational is the first race of the season for the ‘Hawks, it is also a good race for the runners to compete against themselves and have a bit of fun. The race kicks off at 10:45 a.m. for the men’s team and 11:15 a.m. for the women’s team.