Women's cross country team to travel to Minneapolis this weekend

Like its male counterpart, the women's cross country team will make its longest trip this weekend.

Ball State travels to Minneapolis, Minn., to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday.

"The girls are excited about Minnesota," head coach Sue Parks said. "It will be way different than any meet so far. There will be 21 teams there, and quite a few are ranked."

She noted Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Providence as top competitors -- the toughest slate yet that the Cardinals have faced this season.

"(To finish) anywhere in the top 10 would be a good goal," Parks said. "The main thing is that we raise our level of performance. I think we're a team on the upswing. We're not at 100 percent, but we're on our way."

Last week the Cardinals placed third in the Indiana Intercollegiates. Sophomore Jill Scully led the way by placing seventh in 19 minutes and 12 seconds. Senior All-American Stacey Ritz, running for the first time this year due to injury, finished two seconds behind in 10th.

"I saw some good things (at Indiana)," Parks said. "Stacey ran well for a first time back, and (sophomore) Crystal Meeks ran well."

Parks added that while Ritz and fellow senior Katie Nowak have been held back by injuries, youngsters like sophomore Sarah Huddleston, Meeks and Scully have stepped up and run well.

"We'll need to get a solid performance from our top five," she said. "Stacey and Katie aren't at 100 percent, but they're ready for good races and I think they can start closing the gap with the front-runners."

Minnesota's course will be 6,000 meters long, the distance run at regionals and nationals. While it is longer than most races (including the conference championships, which is 5,000 meters), Parks feels this works well for her team, which she says is definitely one that gets better as the race goes on.

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