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Ohio's Jake Gentile, Andrew Miller and Kurt Steinmuller run together early in a race September 2014. (File)(Correction: A previous version of this photo caption incorrectly stated the date. The race took place in September 2014. The caption has been updated.)

Cross Country: Bobcats preparing for Pre-Nationals this week

With NCAA Division I Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana just a day away, Ohio is fully preparing to make a big statement on the field.

This race serves as instrumental one for the Bobcats, who will receive a preview of the MAC opponents they will race at in a few weeks at the MAC Championships. Ohio will face conference foes like Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Miami.

Top runner Michael McKean said he is eager to compete against stronger schools in the MAC and beyond to learn ways his team can improve.

“Pre-Nats is a huge meet, we get to see a lot of teams we don’t normally get to see,” McKean said. “It’ll be fun to compete against better guys and seeing what we can do against stronger teams.”

Mckean, recently recognized as MAC “Runner of the Week”, has earned numerous top 10 finishes during his collegiate career. Alex Wind has produced a solid career with many top 20 finishes.

Assistant Coach for the men's team Mitch Bentley said the experience and talent of this senior duo will serve a huge guide for underclassmen preparing for this race.

“They have the level of confidence you need to be to perform well at the big meets,” Bentley said. “There’s a trickle-down effect, we have eight new freshmen this year and when you’re with someone on a team that has that kind of confidence, it can’t help to rub off on them.”

The Womens' team faces 30 schools, including conference foes Miami, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and most notably Eastern Michigan, who’s riding of the boost of being ranked No. 16 nationally last week.

Despite the team’s plan to run all healthy runners, some of the predicted runners who have the highest odds of competing in the MAC championships include Alyssa Atkinson, Abby Miller, Madison Sury, Emily Cass and Emily Deering.

Atkinson’s has had arguably the strongest year for the Bobcats, racking up a number of career-best times and top five finishes, while Miller, Sury, Cass and Deering have served as a solid supporting cast.

Assistant Coach for the Women's team Tim Sykes said their goal is to finish in the top 15, by replicating their Greater Louisville Classic performance.

“We’d like to continue our momentum from the Greater Louisville Classic race, where the majority of the ladies ran personal best times,” Sykes said in an email.

The women have cut back the amounts and intervals they run at practice in order feel rested and sharp enough to produce their fastest times this weekend.

Sykes said he and the coaching staff have reiterated a positive spirit into the players during the last few weeks.

“We have been repeating some positive affirmations that we are fast and fit,” he said in an email. “As we all know, your mental game has to be as strong as your physical game.”

The women’s race starts at 11 a.m. followed by the men’s which begins at 11:30 a.m.


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