Cross country teams compete in Pre-NCAAs

Samuel leads Cardinals to 10th of 24 teams in unseeded race by finishing 32nd overall.

Steve Samuel covered the 8,000-meter course in 25:59, his fastest time at that distance this year, to lead the men's cross country team to a 10th-place finish at the open race of Saturday's Pre-NCAA Meet in Terre Haute.

Ball State totaled 290 points to rank 10th out of 24 teams in the unseeded open race. Fellow Mid-American Conference school Central Michigan won the open race with 97 points and also placed a team third (148 points) in the White race. Other MAC teams in the open race were Buffalo (seventh, 214) and Ohio (13th, 357).

"Steve's been steadily moving up lately," head coach Jim Sprecher said. "It was nice to see him step up and be the first one.

"We had six runners in the 26-minute range, and that's where we need them. The key for us is to continue shrinking that gap between our No. 1 and No. 5 runners. We need to get into that 30-second range."

Saturday that gap was 33 seconds, as Kyle Hinkelman placed 78th with a time of 26:32. In between were Sal Impelliterri (54th, 26:17), Aaron Hoover (60th, 26:21) and Jesse Davis (66th, 26:24). Steve Schilling (86th, 26:42) and Michael Olson (111th, 27:12) rounded out the top seven.

"Kyle had a nice race," Sprecher said. "He's been showing in workouts that he can contribute and he ran his fastest time (Saturday). Aaron and Jesse have been our dependables and continue to be in our top five."

With two weeks until the MAC Championships at Miami University, Sprecher likes where his team is at going into that meet.

"I'm comfortable with where we are at this point," Sprecher said. "We have some momentum going into the MAC, and we have some time to train before then."