Clay Packel, For The Miami Student

The Miami University women’s cross country team opened its season with the Miami Invitational (pictured above) and went on to win the Mid-American Conference Championship. (Kim Parent | The Miami Student)

The Miami University women’s cross country team won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship, its third MAC title in the past six years.

The women’s team had four runners finish within the top-10 and narrowly beat out the University of Toledo, 48-45.

It is the first conference title since 2009 for the RedHawks, as Toledo had won the previous three.

In addition to winning the event itself, Miami head coach Kelly Phillips was named MAC Coach of the Year.

Junior Jess Hoover once again finished at the top for the Red and White and finished third overall for the event.

Redshirt junior Melissa Girgis was the team’s second scorer, finishing right behind Hoover in fifth. Since Girgis and Hoover finished in the top seven, they were both named First-Team All-MAC.

“Winning MAC’s was such a great experience,” Hoover said. “I crossed in third and turned around and saw my teammates coming in shortly behind and it was the best feeling.”

Two other RedHawks were named Second-Team All-MAC. Junior Anna Lamb and sophomore Laura Bess finished back-to-back in ninth and 10th overall, respectively.

Junior Elisa Frazier was Miami’s final scorer, taking 18th overall.

“For meets like this, you hope that just 80 percent of your plan goes right. Well, today it all went according to plan,” Phillips said. “It was perfect and just awesome to watch.”

Miami will look to build off its first place finish when they line up for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship Meet, which will be held Friday, Nov. 15 in Madison, Wis.

A strong performance could allow the women’s team to qualify for the 2013 NCAA Championship.

The Miami men’s team did not enjoy the same success as the women this weekend, finishing sixth out of a field of nine.

Having beat every team in the MAC except for Eastern Kentucky University just two weeks ago, the men should have been prepared to challenge for first, but in the week leading up to the race redshirt senior Matt Marol and freshman Kent Ford suffered injuries.

Marol sustained an injury to his knee, while Ford had a back injury.

Both attempted to race, but Marol finished an uncharacteristic 49th and Ford finished one spot behind him in 50th.

Freshman Stephen Biebelhausen did not have his best race, finishing 54th overall.

Two positives to take away from the race were the performances of senior Dave Wing and sophomore Joe Stewart.

Wing finished at the top for Miami, as he has all season, and finished second overall.

Despite the race being Stewart’s first of the year, he managed to finish second for the RedHawks.

Head coach Warren Mandrell said he was pleased with Stewart’s race, but that it was hard to watch some of his runners racing in so much pain.

“Joe had a tremendous race and I’m very happy about how he came out, but it was just so painful having to watch Matt and Kent struggle like they were,” Mandrell said.

With less than two weeks until the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship Meet, the men’s team will look to regain its health and bounce back in a race that will help decide whether or not it goes to the 2013 NCAA Championship.

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