MOUNT PLEASANT – Big-time running programs and familiar Mid-American Conference foes await the men's cross country team at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Meet in Toledo, Ohio, Saturday.
The men, who most recently posted a runner-up finish at the MAC Championship Meet and boast the MAC champion in sophomore Tecumseh Adams, face a tough field in their first 10K race of the season.
In the latest U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll, the Chippewas were ranked eleventh in the region, and second amongst MAC teams.
The men's race, held at the Ottawa Park golf course in Toledo, will begin at noon, followed by the women's race at 1:15 p.m.
Adams, CMU’s first MAC champion since Tristen Perlberg in 2004, is looking to qualify for the NCAA National Championship Meet in Terre Haute, Ind., where he could become just the third sophomore to win a MAC championship and earn All-American honors in the same season.
To make it to Terre Haute, the Chippewas would need to finish in the top two Saturday, or individuals can qualify by finishing among the top seven runners not on a qualifying team.
The Chippewas will return three runners who competed at Regionals from last year's team, which finished 18th - junior Jason Drudge, and sophomores Nathan Huff and Zach Tranter. Adams last competed at the meet in 2009.
Drudge most recently finished with first-team All-MAC honors for his sixth-place finish at the MAC Championships, and Huff recorded a 17th place finish after running a career-best time by nearly a minute on the 8K course.
“We're really excited about Regionals,” Adams said. “We're going to prove that we're the best team in the MAC. We're using our MAC championship performance to show that we're a good team and we're going to perform very, very well.”
Adams' goal is to finish in the top ten overall and have the team finish in the top eight, but to do so he and his teammates will need to contend with national cross country powerhouses.
Wisconsin, the Big Ten champion and top-ranked team in the USTFCCCA polls, leads a field of six Big Ten schools that will be competing at the meet. Three of those teams – No. 7 Indiana, No. 19 Michigan and No. 28 Ohio State – are nationally ranked.
Notre Dame also received national votes in the latest poll.
The Maroon and Gold will also see many familiar faces from the MAC in Toledo; eight of the nine total teams that competed in the MAC Championship Meet on Oct. 29 will be in the field. Third-place finisher Buffalo will be competing in the Northeast region.