Melissa Maykut, Staff Writer

The women’s cross country team begins their race at the Pre-NCAA Invitational Oct. 17, 2009. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

For the first time in five years, the Miami University men’s and women’s cross country teams will be racing on their own home course. After winning the Dayton Flyer 5K Invitational last weekend to open up the season, both teams are excited to finally be hosting their own invitational.

The last Miami Invitational was held five years ago, in 2005. That year, the men’s cross country team had been looking for a tenth consecutive victory at home. In the end, the men’s team placed runner up, while the women’s team finished in fourth. Before 2005, though, the Miami Invitational had been an annual race for the cross country teams.

Since 2005, construction around the running course deterred the teams from hosting an invitational. Another obstacle was the change that had been taking place on the coaching staff for the women’s team. In 2008, Head Coach Rita Arndt-Mollis resigned, and Head Coach Kelly Phillips took over in 2009. However, with construction no longer an issue and the coaching staff in place and organized, the teams are excited to host the Miami Invitational again Saturday, Sept. 11.

“We’re pretty familiar with the course, so it’ll be fun to compete on it,” senior Robbie Fisher said. “Our team doesn’t have one guy that is ahead of the rest of us. We’re really going to work as a team and focus on getting everyone together.”

The men’s cross country team will be running an 8K at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, while the women’s cross country team will start the morning off at 10 a.m. with a 6K run.

“Girls that didn’t get to race last weekend will get to race here and see where they are at,” senior Rachel Patterson said. “Coach recruited a lot of girls from the track team who beat the Dayton Invitational course record and came in first overall last weekend and will not be racing this Saturday in preparation for the Spartan Invitational Sept. 17.”

The atmosphere surrounding the Miami Invitational is nothing short of exciting. Both teams are thrilled to be racing in front of a home crowd, and can not wait to race on a course that they practice on every week.

“They will know the ins and outs of the course,” Patterson said. “We ran our hearts out at Dayton, so we’re all excited to see the girls race this weekend.”

The RedHawks are looking to keep the Miami Invitational title at Miami this Saturday.

The course starts behind Bachelor Hall.

“It’s bittersweet,” Fisher said. “This meet is a good way to go out as a senior. There’s just something about being at home.”