David Polaski

Ball State cross country coaches Randy Heisler and Ali Bishel weren't thrilled with the weekend's showing at the Greater Louisville Classic. Running against 17 of the top 25 ranked teams in the country, Ball State placed 30th out of 31 teams, beating host Louisville.

The finish didn't sit well with the runners on the team.

"I had girls who ran a 18:40 and 18:20 who were disappointed in themselves," Bishel noted. "Last year, they would have been happy about it."

Friday, Ball State will host its only home meet of the season, taking on Marion and Indianapolis. Ball State has done well in the home meet each year. In 2011, the team finished second of the five teams competing. The year before that, it had the top eight runners at the meet.

Senior MaryKate Mellen will run the Ball State Invitational for the last time. The team's captain and leader was just the seventh-best runner as a freshman. Now she leads the team.

"She's inspiring and gives hope to the other girls," Bishel said.

Having run the Invitational twice already, Mellen emphasized the benefit of knowing the terrain and how much of a home field advantage it can provide.

"We probably have the most homecourt advantage of any sport," Mellen said. "We know where the hill is; we know where we can do tangents instead of running all the way around a curve."

Following in Mellen's footsteps is freshman Katelyn DeVries. An up and coming star, she's consistently been the Cardinals second-best runner. She and Mellen push each other during practices and races.

"I'm very competitive, so at practice I'm always trying to stick with her," DeVries said. "She teaches me a lot of things about running, about how to push yourself and not give up."

DeVries said she was excited for her first home meet in a Ball State uniform. She plans to stick close to Mellen through the race.

"It's going to be a small race, so I'm going to have MaryKate by my side the whole time." DeVries said.

Ball State's women will start their 5k race at 4:30 p.m. at the Muncie Elks Country Club.