Parks: Team is close to running at 100 percent before pre-NCAA meet

Her team may not be running at 100 percent yet, but women's cross country head coach Sue Parks said the Cardinals are getting closer to that level as they head into Saturday's Pre-NCAA Meet in Terre Haute.

Ball State, who is ranked ninth in the latest regional poll, will compete in the Blue Race, one of the two 37-team seeded races.

"We're definitely improving and on the upswing," Parks said. "Notre Dame (two weeks ago) was a good meet for us, and we've improved since then."

That improvement will be tested against what Parks said is the strongest field BSU has faced this year. Defending national champion Brigham Young and third-ranked Colorado will be among the Cards' competition.

"There's about 10 or so ranked teams (in our race)," Parks said. "We ran there (in Pre-NCAAs) last year, so we know what to expect."

In 2001 Ball State placed 15th at the Pre-NCAAs. Individually, Stacey Ritz finished 14th, Katie Nowak 37th, Jill Scully 75th, Sarah Huddleston 124th and Crystal Meeks 135th. That whole group is back, but with a little different look.

"Stacey's really come along after her injury, and Katie's been running much better lately," Parks said. "But Jill Scully (who has paced the Cards in three races this year), Crystal Meeks (top finisher two weeks ago) and Sarah Huddleston have all really improved.

"We have a solid front five," she added. "We just need to get them farther up."

Moving the pack up will be even more imperative this time, as Parks doesn't anticipate having real front-runners.

"Our front-runners aren't as strong as they were last year at this point, but our pack is stronger," Parks said. "Our goal is to have the top five as closes as possible to where our third runner was last year."6622"+â-+T*+â-äwomen's cc preview 10.17 DNEditorial662SORT n+â-ä2AUDT

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