Monday, September 22, 2008

Women win first season invitational

Issue date: 9/22/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

The women's cross country team followed up two subpar performances in non-scoring meets with its best race of the year Friday at the George Dales Invitational.

Senior Amanda Rudert won her first collegiate race with a time of 18 minutes, 31 seconds, and all scoring Central runners finished in the top 10. The Chippewas beat Western and Eastern Michigan by 16 and 31 points, respectively, in Three Rivers.

"We had our best performance of the year so far," Lutzke said. "I was really pleased with the effort we got across the board and not just from our top few runners, from our first to last runners."

After a disappointing meet at the Spartan Invitational last week, in which its top runner placed 20th overall, the team accomplished both goals of running as a pack and closing the gap between its top five runners.

Lutzke said the team raced together for just about half the race and the gap closed from 49 seconds in the previous week to 41 seconds on Friday.

Rounding out the scoring positions were sophomores Raeanna Lohner (fourth place, 18:35) and Brittany Dixon (fifth, 18:38), junior Sarah Squires (eighth, 18:49) and senior Kelly McClure (10th, 18:54).

The pace-setting Rudert accomplished her goals after last week's practices.

"I personally needed to practice going out faster from the start, and this race provided a great opportunity for that," Rudert said.

Lutzke echoed those thoughts.

"She pretty much controlled the race from the gun," she said. "She led the pack and made a move around the two-mile mark and executed our plan perfectly. Amanda's really strong over the last mile."

Lutzke also believed Rudert's confidence was the biggest difference in her performance.

"We took the race out from the start and did a great job working together and pushing each other," Rudert said. "It was a big improvement from last week and I'm very happy with how we raced."

Lutzke said Lohner and Dixon competed well with the front-running pack and called Squires' race a breakthrough. She acknowledged the difficulty that comes with the transition from track to cross country, where the race is longer than the 1,500-meter event in track.

"She's been doing really well on the track and it was a big race for her and the team," Lutzke said.

The team gets a weekend off before traveling Oct. 3 to the Adidas Notre Dame Invite in Notre Dame, Ind.

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