July 11, 2014
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - For the first time since 2007, Central Michigan will host the Mid-American Conference cross country championships.
"With us hosting, the goal is to try to keep the trophies in Mt. Pleasant," CMU associate head coach Matt Kaczor said upon release of the 2014 schedule.
The Chippewas will open the season at home on Friday, Aug. 29, with the 29th Annual Jeff Drenth Memorial at Pleasant Hills Golf Course. The MAC Championships are Saturday, Nov. 1, at Riverwood Resort Golf Course.
Riverwood Resort was the site of the MAC Championships in '07, the last time CMU hosted. The course differs from that at Pleasant Hills, Kaczor said.
"It's not as wide open as Pleasant Hills," he said. "It's very wood-covered and it's got a little more roll to it than the course does over at Pleasant Hills."
Course familiarity should play into the Chippewas' favor come November, Kaczor said, as the Chippewa men are seeking their first league title since 2004, the women their first since 2000.
Both CMU squads finished third in the MAC Championships a year ago.
"We'll be able to practice out there, see the course, were the tangents are, where you can make a move," he said, adding that regardless of the course, simply being at home is a major advantage. "I love the idea of being in your own bed as much as you can be and keeping everything calm and relaxed, keeping the routine, as much as possible."
The Drenth Memorial serves as a tribute to former Chippewa Jeff Drenth, an All-American and two-time MAC champion who was an Olympic hopeful when he died suddenly in 1986.
After the Drenth, the Chippewas hit the road for invitationals at Michigan State, Minnesota and Notre Dame, and are slated to partake in the NCAA PreNationals on Oct. 18, and the Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 14 at Wisconsin.
The NCAA Championships are scheduled for Nov. 22 at Indiana State.
"We'll be returning a lot to our men's team," Kaczor said, "and half of the roster will be seniors. We've got a good group of guys and if they're healthy we should be able to mix it up with the top teams."
On the women's side, the Chippewas graduated Krista Parks, the first student-athlete in school history to earn All-MAC honors in cross country for four consecutive seasons.
"We lost Krista, that's a big blow," Kaczor said. "We have four returners back who placed in the the top 17 (in the MAC) and also we're adding the No. 25 cross country recruit in the nation."