Courtesy: Kyle Terwillegar/CMU Athletics
Cross Country Heads to Pre-Nationals in Louisville

MOUNT PLEASANT - The men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel this Saturday to Louisville, Ky., for the Pre-Nationals Meet for a preview of what might be to come should the Chippewas qualify for the NCAA Division I National Championships.

The men’s Red seeded 8k race at the E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, the site of the 2012 National Championships, is set to begin at 9:30 a.m., while the women will be competing in the Black unseeded 6k race at 11:30 a.m.

The course will be among the flatter courses the Chippewas have run this season.

Central Michigan’s men will be among the top 39 teams at the meet in the Red race, which will feature nine of the top 30 teams in the latest USTFCCCA national rankings and eight teams that qualified for the 2011 National Championships.

Also competing in the race will be Eastern Michigan, the Chippewas’ biggest MAC rival in cross country, and Miami (OH). Fellow MAC teams Ohio, Kent State, Toledo and Akron will compete in the 61-team men’s Black race. CMU will also place additional runners in this race.

Sophomore Kyle Stacks, senior Jason Drudge, sophomore Ethan Lievense, senior Matt Lutzke and sophomore Ben Wynsma, the scoring lineup from the Chippewas’ most recent race at the Roy Griak Invitational, will all aim to establish their place among the nation’s best in the race and position themselves favorably for a run for a National Championship appearance at this same course on Nov. 17.

The men are 12th in the most recent USTFCCCA Great Lakes Regional Poll, third in the MAC behind Eastern Michigan (6) and Miami (11).

The women will be competing in the largest race of the morning in the 63-team Black race. Of those, 25 teams will compete in a scored competition, including CMU and MAC counterparts Akron, Toledo and Kent State. Eastern Michigan, Miami and Ohio will all compete in the women’s Red race.

Ten schools that qualified female runners for the 2011 National Championships will be present at the meet, and eight from the 2012 USTFCCCA top 30 rankings.

The women’s team, led by junior Krista Parks, will use this meet to establish themselves as a team against national-level competition heading into the championship portion of the season.

Seniors Maddie Ribant and Veronica Garcia, junior Shelby Thren, redshirt freshman Alyssa Dyer and freshmen Bailey Parmelee and Kelly Schubert have also all claimed spots in the Chippewas’ top five in the past three races, and will be looking to do so again this weekend.