Justin Maskulinski, For The Miami Student

The Miami University men’s and women’s cross-country teams faced their toughest fields Saturday at Pre-Nationals hosted by the University of Louisville.

The women placed 22nd out of 38 teams and the men placed 32nd out of 40 teams. The RedHawks were aware of the challenge they faced at Pre-Nationals.

“I expected it would be tough, but I was hoping we’d do better,” redshirt junior Monica Fischer said.

Fischer led the women Saturday with a time of 21:27, placing 85th out of 265 runners. Fischer improved her time from the Spartan Invitational by 58 seconds.

“I feel like I went out strong and then kept staying aggressive,” Fischer said.

Sophomore Jess Hoover was not the front-runner for the ‘Hawks for the first time this season, placing 97th with a time of 21:33. Her previous season best was 21:45.

“Personally I didn’t have the best day; I was hoping to do better,” Hoover said.

The women have been trying to improve their spread by running closer together and they achieved that with a 39 second difference between their first and last finisher. Their previous best was 32 seconds at The Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, a shorter course than Pre-Nationals.

“It’s exciting to have a close spread,” Hoover said. “Our goal was to finish in the top 15, but it was still a solid race.”

Fischer said overall the women were satisfied with their meet.

“We were happy but we feel we will do better at the [Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships],” Fischer said.

Hoover also said she will do better at the MAC Championships.

“I’m excited for MAC and Regional [Championships]; I get two more chances,” Hoover said.

The men had been coming into the race hoping for a better finish than 32nd.

“I was hopeful we’d do better; we almost got exactly what we were predicted to get,” men’s Head Coach Warren Mandrell said.

The men’s top finisher was redshirt senior Steve Kiplagat, who finished 62nd with a time of 24:10, 37 seconds better than his time at The Commodore Classic one month ago. Senior Jarrod Eick finished 110th with a time of 24:35, improving his time from the Commodore Classic by 25 seconds.

Both Eick and Kiplagat did not compete at the All-Ohio Championships two weeks ago due to minor injuries. Mandrell thinks they both are feeling healthier.

“[Eick and Kiplagat] seem okay,” Mandrell said. “This was a strong race for Steve, and Jarrod was right where he usually is; they both had a great start.”

Mandrell said the last finishers for the ‘Hawks struggled Saturday.

“The back end guys were stuck at the back, it was very difficult to move up,” Mandrell said.

The women’s overall winner was Aliphin Tuliamuk-Bolton from Wichita State University, who ran a time of 19:43. The men’s overall winner was Anthony Rotich from the University of Texas El Paso, who ran a time of 23:01.

Both the men and the women compete in the MAC Championships Oct. 27 in Buffalo, NY.