Demetrius Lewis

After finishing 11th out of 12 teams in the Mid-American Conference Championships last season, most would think expectations wouldn't be too high for the Ball State cross-country team Saturday at this season's MAC Championships.

Coach Randy Heisler has other ideas.

Heisler said he expects the team to finish much higher than last season and that having three to five runners finish in the top 50 is a realistic goal. Last season, the Cardinals had one runner finish in the top-50.

"I do expect us to do much better," Heisler said. "I expect it, so I hope the girls expect it, too. The girls have trained really hard this year and I'm grateful for that."

Heisler said the Cardinals have an entirely different team competing this year, with the exception of senior, two-time All-MAC selection Ali Bishel.

Bishel finished fourth in the MAC Championships last season. She said there is always pressure to improve, but her experience will have an effect on how she races this weekend.

"I'm just going to be as competitive as I can with a chip on my shoulders," Bishel said. "Races like this are won during the summer when you're putting in the hard work, not in the fall."

Bishel said being in the top-10 is the primary goal, but she's also looking forward to upcoming meets.

Two weeks after the MAC Championships, NCAA Regionals will take place in Oakland, Mich., and the NCAA Championship will be held at Indiana State on Nov. 22.

Heisler said he has prepared workouts for Bishel with the focus on the NCAA meets. Bishel said she is excited for those competitions.

"I'm looking forward to the other events," she said.

The MAC Championships will be hosted by Western Michigan at noon Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich.