Friday, October 10, 2008

Newly-ranked women to hold out top runners, test youngsters

Issue date: 10/10/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

After two strong performances, the women's cross country team has rejoined the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes Region rankings.

The Chippewas are ranked No. 14 and are sixth out of seven MAC teams featured in this week's 15-team ranking.

"It's nice to see our team ranked," said head coach Karen Lutzke.

"I think we're getting better and better. Our goal is not only to be ranked but to improve, and this shows us that we are improving."

The team debuted at No. 15 in the preseason rankings but was left off the list after a slow start.

Senior Amanda Rudert said it was frustrating to drop out, but the team showed determination to get noticed again.

"When we weren't in the rankings and saw the teams that were, we were frustrated because we knew we were just as good, if not better, than some of those teams," she said.

Rudert said the team should aim for a Top 10 ranking by season's end.

CMU is nestled between Bowling Green and Toledo in the rankings, with 13 teams looking up at intrastate rivals Michigan State and Michigan, who hold down the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively.

Lutzke looks at the rankings as a motivational tool.

"If you're not ranked, you should be mad, and if you are ranked, you should be excited," she said. "It adds to the excitement of any sport."

Today, the Chippewas compete in the Michigan Intercollegiate 6K, featuring all of the state's Division I schools except for Michigan and Michigan State.

Lutzke will rest her top 10 runners in preparation for the Pre-National meet next Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., which also is a 6K race. Lutzke said it should allow some of the young runners an opportunity to compete for their spots in upcoming meets.

"We're heading to the end of the season and we have to make decisions on who can compete in which races," Lutzke said.

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