The Central Michigan cross-country teams head to East Lansing today to compete in the Spartan Invitational after traveling to Madison, Wis. last Friday to face the defending national champion Badgers.
Many upperclassmen made their season debuts last week for CMU and now look to improve on their performances.
The women’s team will take off at noon, competing in a 6k race, while the men’s team will run in an 8k race, which begins at 12:35 p.m.
CMU will have 11 athletes running on the women’s side, while the men will send out 13 runners.
Director of cross-country Willie Randolph said he is looking forward to facing off against some stiffer competition this week and knows it can help his team improve.
“In order to be the best, you have to beat the best … it’s always great for good programs like ourselves to compete against the best,” Randolph said.
The Spartan Invitational will take place at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East Golf Course. Teams competing will include: Eastern Michigan, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Hillsdale, Lake Superior State, Lawrence Tech, Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan, Western Michigan, Northwood, Oakland, Ohio State, Saginaw Valley and Schoolcraft.
While the first two races of the season for CMU have been against smaller fields, this week will feature a larger variety of schools and new competition.
“This is our first real meet of the season in terms of amount of schools competing,” Randolph said.
Every week, the team tries to focus on a few key details in order to succeed and this week is no different for CMU according to Randolph.
“The most important thing is staying focused and competing at a high level, while running together as a pack,” he said.
After running a career best 5k last week in Madison, Wis. with a time of 18:21, senior Maddie Ribant is looking forward to competing in East Lansing.
“There is going to be a lot of good competition … I enjoy being in an atmosphere with other teams competing at a high level,” she said.
While competing against strong competition is tough, Ribant said she knows it can only help the team.
“Running against these Big Ten schools will only make us push even harder and allow us to prepare that much harder,” she said.
Sophomore Kyle Stacks led the men’s team last week with a runner-up finish in the 6k (18:52). Stacks said he has a lot of confidence in the team’s ability to compete.
“We have the power to dominate these teams,” he said. “The challenge will be to work together and run as a pack.”
The race strategy is simple but Stacks said he knows execution on race day is essential.
“I’m treating this race the same as last week in that I’m trying to be more in control, while staying up at the front and really sticking it into gear,” he said.