The men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Grand Island, N.Y. Saturday to compete in the Mid-American Conference Championships.
The women will run in a 6k at 11 a.m, while the men will take part in an 8k at noon at the relatively flat Beaver Island Park.
Both teams are looking to improve upon their runner-up finishes during the 2011 MAC Championships. The women’s team has finished second in the competition the previous two years.
“Going into competition like this, our goal is that we would like to walk away with the MAC Championship,” senior Maddie Ribant said. “We don’t want to compete for second. It’s first place or die trying; we need to put it all out there and not settle.”
The men’s team enters competition 11th in the most recent U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes Region rankings.
“We may be ranked somewhere, or projected in one place, but, no matter what, we’re shooting for the gold,” senior Jason Drudge said. “We’re here to win.”
Drudge and sophomore Kyle Stacks have led the team this season, finishing each of their races first and second since their season debut in Wisconsin.
Drudge said he is anxious but confident in performing well and leading the Chippewas to a successful weekend.
“We’re a little excited and nervous,” he said. “It’s going to be a real tough competition, but I feel confident. No one is injured; we’re healthy, relaxed and feeling good.”
The women’s team is now ranked 15th in the region, according to the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region rankings.
Like Drudge, Ribant said she feels anxiousness as this weekend nears.
“I can say I’m a little nervous but excited at the same time,” she said. “This is what we’ve been working for all season, and it’s exciting to be here now and see what we trained for.”
Director of cross-country Willie Randolph said he feels his teams are prepared for their biggest weekend so far this season, though their game-plan hasn’t changed.
“We treat this weekend as any other,” he said. “This is our final exam, not the midterm anymore. We must make the necessary adjustments; we know what we want. We want an ‘A’.”
Randolph said the biggest component to success during this weekend is what he’s preached all season: team unity.
“We must run as a pack, get out into the right positions at the beginning of the race and give it everything we have and have no regrets about it,” he said. “We’re focused on what we’ve been training for. There is no more room for error; it’s time to keep calm and execute.”
No. 20 Toledo is the favorite in the conference, while Akron, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio and Eastern Michigan are projected to give the Chippewas trouble.