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   MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State cross country team returns to action Friday, when it takes the starting line at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course  for the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional hosted by Wisconsin.

   The Great Lakes Regional includes 33 women's teams, with four of those squads ranked among the top 25 nationally, including No. 6 Michigan, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 18 Toledo and No. 23 Notre Dame.

   The Cardinals will be racing for a chance to make the upcoming NCAA Championships which will be held Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky., at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park. The top two teams and the top four individual runners from a non-qualifying team at Friday's regional meet advance to the NCAA Championship.

   Leading Ball State at the 6K NCAA regional race will be senior MaryKate Mellen (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) who has paced the Cardinals in each of the past 12 meets. Two weeks ago at the Mid-American Conference Championships, Mellen placed 29th overall with a 6K time of 22:29.0.

   Also running for the Cardinals at the Great Lakes Regional will be freshman Katelyn DeVries (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), sophomore Courtney Edon (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine), senior Emilee Zets (Berlin Center, Ohio/West Branch) and junior Esther Tirado (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson).

   Last season, the Cardinals placed 24th among the 33 teams at the 2011 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships hosted by Toledo at the Ottawa Park Golf Course. Mellen was BSU's top performer, placing 90th overall with a time of 22:26.0.

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