Women's Cross Country Heads to Terre Haute for Pre-Nationals
Gamecocksonline.com Freshman Kelsey McHugh Freshman Kelsey McHugh
Gamecocksonline.com

Oct. 11, 2006

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In its final meet prior to the Mid-American Conference Championships, the Miami University women's cross country team travels to the 2006 Pre-Nationals Saturday, October 14 in Terre Haute, Ind. A record 192 teams, including 89 men's and 94 women's squads, are slated to compete in six different races at the LaVern Gibson Course, with Saturday's meet marking the first 6K race of the season for the RedHawks.

LAST TIME OUT - ALL-OHIO CHAMPIONSHIP (OCT. 6): Placing two runners in the meet's top 25, Miami placed fifth in a 38-team field at the All-Ohio Championship. Tallying its fifth straight top-five finish at the All-Ohio, Miami placed in front of three schools from the Mid-American Conference -- Bowling Green, Akron and Kent State -- and also topped area rivals Cincinnati and Dayton. For the first time in her career, freshman Kelsey McHugh was the top Miami finisher, clocking in with a 20th-place time of 19:16. McHugh placed one second and one spot ahead of junior teammate Jennie Stoll, who finished in 21st place at 19:17. With her top team finish, McHugh became the third different Miamian to pace the team this season.

TOAST OF THE BUCKEYE STATE: With its fifth-place finish at the All-Ohio Championship, Miami ran its 2006 record to a 39-5 mark against schools from the Buckeye State. Prior to the All-Ohio, Miami had finished ahead of Cincinnati, Dayton, Xavier, Ohio Wesleyan, Wright State and Youngstown State over its first three meets, and at last weekend's All-Ohio, Miami bested three conference foes--Bowling Green, Akron and Kent State--and also finished well ahead of the Bearcats, Flyers and Wright State Raiders. Overall this season, Miami boasts a 57-12 mark, good for an .826 winning percentage.

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: Having never competed in a cross country race prior to this season, freshman Kelsey McHugh has been a welcome surprise for the RedHawks, turning in four straight scoring finishes and placing as the top Miamian at the All-Ohio Championship. In the first top team finish of her career, McHugh turned in a 20th-place time of 1916, finishing one second and one place ahead of teammate Jennie Stoll. Over the first three meets of the season, McHugh had posted a fifth-place team finish and a pair of third-place showings before pacing the RedHawks at the All-Ohio. A field hockey player in high school, McHugh had previously competed in the distance events in track, but she had not run in a cross country meet prior to the season-opening Flyer 5K Challenge.

SAME OLD SONG AND DANCE: Finishing as one of the top two Miami finishers for the fourth time this season, junior Jennie Stoll placed 21st at the All-Ohio Championships, coming in at 19:17 and just one second and one place behind freshman Kelsey McHugh. An all-MAC second team honoree a season ago, Stoll has been the top team Miamian in nine of the past 11 races, and since coming to Oxford three seasons ago, she has been the top Miami finisher in 12 of the RedHawks' 19 races.

REDHAWK QUICK FACTS: Twelve of the 16 members of Miami's cross country team hail from the Buckeye State, with its other four members coming from Illinois (2), Indiana (1) and Wisconsin (1) ... Miami's 34-second split between its first and fifth runners was the best of the top teams at the All-Ohio, but the team now needs to focus on moving closer to the front of the pack if it is to challenge for a MAC title ... Miami has placed in the top five in the All-Ohio standings in five consecutive seasons, including its first-place finish in 2003 when former All-American Andrea Kremer anchored the RedHawks.

MORE HARDWARE THAN HOME DEPOT: Miami has had one runner individually recognized by the Mid-American Conference this season, as junior Sarah Henize was tabbed as the MAC Runner of the Week (Sept. 12) following her first-place finish at the Miami Invitational. Clocking in with a top time of 18:54, Henize won her first career individual title and posted her fourth career top-five finish. The runner of the week award was the first of Henize's career, and she was the first Miamian to win the award since Jennie Stoll on Sept. 21, 2004.

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS: Having improved on its conference finish in each of the past two seasons, Miami was tabbed third in the Mid-American Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Miami is coming off a fifth-place showing at last season's MAC Championship. The 2005 MAC Runner-up Toledo Rockets were selected as the preseason conference favorite.

STARTING AT THE TOP: Anchored by a trio of experienced juniors, the top of Miami's lineup is expected to propel the RedHawks' success in the 2006 season. Top junior returnee Jennie Stoll, a 2005 all-MAC second team honoree, finished ninth at last season's MAC Championship, while classmates Carol Eckerly, a first-team all-MAC runner as a freshman, and Sarah Henize placed 19th and 26th, respectively. All three runners provide Miami with a talented and veteran presence, and each has the ability to be the RedHawks' No. 1 runner.

THESE KIDS ARE SMART: Continuing its trend of excellence in the classroom, last season's women's cross country squad was tabbed as an all-academic team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association for the 12th straight season. Posting a team GPA of 3.38, the highest of any Miami varsity team during the 2005-06 season, Miami was recognized with distinction for having a team GPA of 3.25 or better for the sixth consecutive season. Miami has been recognized every year since the award's inception in 1994.