Friday, October 31, 2008

Women hope team unity translates to success at MACs

Issue date: 10/31/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

The women's cross country team turned into a pack of tie-dyed, singing hippies on Tuesday for the team's annual "Ugly Day."

"The girls can be creative," said coach Karen Lutzke.

"Ugly Day" was the second of the team's four-day spirit week, held during Mid-American Conference Championship week every year.

"We were dressed like the '70s with weird makeup and spray-painted hair," said senior Amanda Rudert. "There's a goofy side to us."

The Chippewas, traveling tomorrow to Eastern Michigan for the conference meet, look at spirit week as a way to clear their minds before the race.

"It's good to unwind from the pressure of the practice week," Lutzke said.

Since circling the date on the calendar during preseason workouts, CMU is looking to save its best meet for its biggest.

"Since I've been here, I haven't seen a more dedicated and passionate team heading into the MAC meet," said senior Michelle Diverio.

The team is looking to rebound from a 38th-place finish at NCAA Pre-Nationals, where it finished behind two MAC teams.

Lutzke points to those teams - Miami and Ohio - plus Akron as the favorites in the 5K race, beginning at noon at Eagle Crest Golf Course in Ypsilanti.

"We have high expectations and high goals, and we want to accomplish them," Diverio said.

Also running in her last MAC Championship meet, Rudert, a fellow senior, wants to go out a winner.

"Our goal is definitely to win the race," Rudert said.

Rudert stressed the importance of competing and believes the rest will fall into place.

She is aiming for All-MAC accolades and new personal record in the meet, attempting to break the 18 minutes, 31 seconds set Sept. 19 at the George Dales Invitational.

"As a freshman, I didn't really understand what the meet was all about," Rudert said. "And after running in it for a few years, your expectations get higher each year."

CMU will carry 10 runners to the race, none of which were disclosed by Lutzke, who believes the team will run competitively and confidently.

"Those two aspects go hand-in-hand," Lutzke said. "Expectations are high for every meet but especially this one, and I think things will come together for us."

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