Monday, November 17, 2008

Seniors Rudert, Diverio sent off with 16th-place finish

Darling paces Chippewas at 22 minutes, 49 seconds

Issue date: 11/17/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

The women's cross country team ended its 2008 campaign Saturday with a 16th-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships at Purdue.

Sophomore Melissa Darling paced the Chippewas with a time of 22 minutes, 49 seconds and placed 72nd, marking the first time all season that a runner other than senior Amanda Rudert led the squad.

Coming off of a season-best performance at the Mid-American Conference Championships on Nov. 1, CMU just missed its goal of finishing between 10th and 12th place in the muddy, rainy and windy conditions in West Lafayette, Ind.

"We expected to finish higher," said head coach Karen Lutzke. "But we didn't get out fast enough and we had a hard time holding up and making up the ground."

Sophomore Danielle Dakroub placed 87th with a time of 23 minutes, 3 seconds, while Rudert finished the 6K race in 92nd place, four seconds behind, with a time of 23 minutes, 7 seconds.

CMU finished with 497 points, better than half of the field, and 425 points behind No. 17 Michigan, who, along with No. 8 Wisconsin, automatically will qualify for the NCAA National Championships.

"We just didn't have it yesterday," Lutzke said, when asked to compare her team's performance to the Nov. 1 MAC meet. "It's hard to do what we did that day every time, you're not perfect every meet."

CMU finished as the fourth MAC team in the meet, behind Miami University (6th), Akron (8th) and one spot behind Bowling Green (15th), a team CMU beat at the MAC meet.

Lutzke noted the conditions, especially the high wind gusts, were not ideal running conditions and did not help matters. But the team did not look at it as an excuse.

"Everybody has to run in those conditions so it's not an excuse," Rudert said. "Obviously it's harder to run like that,but we have to take it."

For seniors Rudert and Michelle Diverio, it was an emotional ending to their careers at CMU.

"We cried for a little while," Rudert said. "It was emotional just thinking back on our years and all the friends we made and competed with. I wish I could come back another year."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Inspired by Lohner, team heads to regionals at Indiana

Issue date: 11/14/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

On Oct. 29, the Wednesday before the MAC Championship meet, sophomore Raeanne Lohner went before her teammates and delivered a speech that teammates called both powerful and inspirational.

Lohner, a sophomore from East Grand Rapids, talked of the purpose her high school team ran with while the "E" representing her team was emblazoned on their jerseys. She felt the women's cross country team should feel the same passion running with the CMU Flying "C" across their chests.

"My inspiration was to start a tradition of understanding that we're not only running each race for our teammates, but also running each race for the thousands of other CMU athletes that have worn that jersey and the thousands that will wear it after us," Lohner said.

"It's our responsibility to honor the jersey through competing hard."

Senior Amanda Rudert felt the speech hit home. Three days later, on Nov. 1, the Chippewas turned in their best race of the year, finishing fourth at the MAC Championships while each runner turned in a personal best time.

"Before the race, we all committed to honoring the jersey," Rudert said. "And I know that it helped that weekend."

Two weeks after the breakthrough race, the team travels Saturday to the Great Lakes Regional Championships at West Lafayette, Ind., where both the team and individual runners will be looking to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

"Raeanne is very passionate and I think it was very inspirational for everyone to hear from her what it means to put on the CMU uniform," said coach Karen Lutzke said.

CMU is ranked No. 10 in the recent regional rankings, its highest spot since 2001.

Although Rudert and fellow senior Michelle Diverio are the only seniors competing in the 6K race, Lutzke said the other three still mean a lot.

"It's like they're racing too," Lutzke said. "It's harder for the girls who aren't competing because they want to be competing and it means just as much to them as the girls who are racing."

Rudert stressed that both seniors running want to go out with their best effort for all of the hard work they have put in during their four years.

"Being my last race, I want to put everything I have in and leave it all on the course," she said.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Women also take fourth at MACs

Issue date: 11/3/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

Joined by a throng of supporters, the women's cross country team traveled to the 2008 Mid-American Conference Championships in Ypsilanti and performed the best it had all year.

All nine runners turned in personal best runs as the team finished fourth behind Miami University, Akron and Ohio, respectively. It was CMU's best MAC finish since finishing fourth in 2001.

"I was very pleased," said coach Karen Lutzke. "It was a great effort from top to bottom and that's what needs to happen in a meet like that."

Senior Amanda Rudert once again paced the Chippewas with her best collegiate 5K time of 17 minutes, 46 seconds, breaking her previous record of 18:07.

"We were really excited heading into the meet, committed to competing the entire way and it paid off," Rudert said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more from our performance."

The Chippewas were accompanied by a fan base that, according to Rudert, easily was the best there.

"Our fans were unbelievable," Rudert said.

Made up of family, friends, fellow cross country runners that did not compete and even men's and women's track members, the group was decked out in CMU gear, singing the fight song and shouting motivation the entire race.

"It's all about the program and that kind of support proves it," said Lutzke. "It helps with the girls motivation throughout the course and makes it better when you perform well."

Rudert was followed by sophomore Melissa Darling (18:05), senior Michelle Diverio (18:07), sophomore Danielle Dakroub (18:15) and freshman Raeanne Lohner (18:18) to round out the team's top five.

Central narrowly missed its target of five runners in the meet's top 30. It had three runners with its fourth and fifth runners standing in 33rd and 37th place. The success means the team likely will pass Bowling Green, Toledo and Kent State in the new regional rankings.

Ohio junior Annie Beecham won the meet with a time of 16:56 and Miami won the meet with a score of 39. It had all of its runners place in the top 20.

CMU takes a two-week break from competition to gear up for the Great Lakes Regional, where it most likely will need a top-two finish to qualify for Nationals.

The regional consists of a strong group of teams from the MAC and Big Ten.

"We're running in the right direction," Lutzke said. "We'd like to beat a few more teams before we're done."