Friday, September 12, 2008

MAC, Big Ten rivals await at Spartan Invite

Unscored meet gives CMU chance to see conference foes

Issue date: 9/5/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

Today, for the second time in two meets, the women's cross country team tests its mettle against nationally-ranked competition from last year as it travels to East Lansing to race in the 6K Spartan Invitational.

Teams competing in the meet include host Michigan State - which finished last season ranked fifth in the country - fellow MAC rivals Western Michigan and Miami, and Division II Grand Valley State.

By traveling south, CMU returns the favor to Michigan State, which traveled north two weeks ago for the Jeff Drenth Memorial. In the 5K race, six Central runners placed in the top 15, with senior Amanda Rudert turning in the fastest time in 18 minutes, 53 seconds.

While Rudert's performance was stellar in the opener, coach Karen Lutzke says she is more focused on the runners behind the pace-setter.

"We're looking to close the gap between our top five runners and trying to cut the spread down to 15-20 seconds and not 30-40 seconds," Lutzke said. "But that doesn't mean we want Amanda to run any slower. We want Amanda to run faster and everybody else to run faster so they're closer to where Amanda is right now."

The race will be held at the Forest Akers East Golf Course on the campus of MSU - called a "fast track" by Lutzke - at 1:35 p.m. The unscored meet is CMU's first 6K of the season.

Senior Michelle Diverio doesn't think CMU should have any problems.

"We train for long distances. Most of us run over 40 miles a week, so I don't think it's physically that much of an adjustment for us to do the 6K as opposed to the 5K," Diverio said. "But mentally, it takes more focus because you're out on the course racing for a longer time."

The meet, while unscored, will give CMU the opportunity to measure up against its MAC opponents while gaining valuable race experience. Both the regional and pre-national meets are 6K races.

Several undisclosed runners will sit out today to rest for next week's first scored meet in Kalamazoo against Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

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