MUNCIE, Ind. - - After months of preparation, the Ball State cross country team embarks on its biggest race of the season Saturday, when it hosts the 2011 Mid-American Conference Championships at the Muncie Elks Country Club.
Action in the championships is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. with the men's 8K race. The women's 6K race will follow at noon, while the championship awards ceremony is slated to start at 1:30 p.m.
"We are very excited to be hosting the MAC Cross Country Championships for the first time since 1996 and running the event for the first time at the Muncie Elks Country Club," said Ball State head coach Randy Heisler. "At every meet this season all of our student-athletes have improved upon their times, and in most cases, posted career-best efforts. I would like to see that trend continue Saturday. With five teams in our conference currently ranked in the top 15 in the region, I look for this to be a tough and competitive meet."
In the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division I Regional Rankings, Toledo was the top-ranked MAC school in the Great Lakes region at No. 6, followed by Miami (8th), Central Michigan (9th), Ohio (13th) and Eastern Michigan (14th)
On the men's side, Eastern Michigan was the top ranked MAC school in the Great Lakes region at No. 7, followed by Central Michigan (10th) and Kent State (11th). Toledo, Akron and Miami have also been ranked in the region this year.
Last season, the Cardinals placed 10th at the 12-team MAC Championships hosted by Western Michigan Pine View Golf Club. Despite losing both its top runners from a year ago due to graduation, the Cardinals are poised to move up in the standings this year with four of its top five runners already ahead of their counterparts from last season.
Junior MaryKate Mellen has been Ball State's top runner in all four meets to date this season, posting a career-fast 5K time of 18:30.6 at the Greater Louisville Classic and a career-best 6K effort of 22:41.8 at the Ball State Invitational.