Justin Maskulinski, For The Miami Student

Team unity should not be a problem for the Miami University women’s cross country team this year. The RedHawks open their season Sept. 1 at The Dayton Flyer 5k Challenge.

“[The team] usually does well at Dayton. We hope to start strong and continue our success and finish strong,” senior runner Emily Mossler said.

The RedHawks are a young team, with 17 underclassmen and only five upperclassmen. Sophomore runner Mattie Moncayo said the sophomore class could help lead the way.

“[Running as a true freshman] gave my class a sense of leadership both on the team and in the classroom,” she said.

Both Mossler and Moncayo agreed that the youth of the ‘Hawks could present a challenge, although it may be a strength as well.

“[The youth] may present a challenge, but the leadership [the youth] provides is great,” Moncayo said.

The youth of the RedHawks provides a sense of unity among not only the underclassmen, but also the upperclassmen because they are leading and teaching the majority of the young runners.

“[The team] vibe is very strong,” Mossler said. “Freshman fit in and the sophomore class is close. We are getting along well.”

Moncayo agreed that the ‘Hawks have a close team.

“The team has a good vibe,” she said. “We are willing to work.”

The team’s youth may present challenges, but the individuals also face their own personal challenges throughout the year.

“My toughest challenge will be remaining focused [on cross country] while attending classes,” Moncayo said.

Mossler said she does not think she will have any tough personal challenges this year.

“I’ve already been through my challenges,” she said. “My goal is to make an impact on the team.”

The ‘Hawks have been training for what they hope can be a successful season. Mossler said she and the team are well prepared after summer training.

“I liked [summer training] more this year,” Mossler said. “We focused more on mileage rather than intense workouts.”

The RedHawks’ open their 2012 campaign in Dayton, Ohio and then travel to five different states.

They hope to improve on their third place finish in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships last year. The ‘Hawks also had an 11th-place finish in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship.

Miami’s top competitors this year in the MAC will be the University of Toledo and rival Ohio University.

Mossler said she is ready to take on all competitors, especially following the team’s summer workouts.

“This is the best I have felt in three years, but workouts matter in November, not June,” Mossler said.