Ball State cross country will head south to compete in the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday, as its top seven runners will step up to the starting line in a competitive race.

Distance coach Raynee DeGrio plans to direct her focus on a smaller group of talent, as this squad has not competed as a whole in the Cardinals' last couple of meetings.

“We will take our top seven and this will probably be the first time that we really put our top seven together in a while,” DeGrio said. “So it will be good to get a smaller group for everyone to be competing at a high-level meet against some of the top teams in the country.”  

Saturday's Roster

Jessica Bryzek, senior

Brooke Talhelm, sophomore

Hannah Cummings, sophomore

Maritza Rodriguez, sophomore

Stephanie McElhaney, redshirt sophomore

Cayla Eckenroth, freshman

Emmalyne Tarse, freshman

The seven-person lineup includes a pair of freshmen DeGrio holds to high standards, as the duo has experience with high-intensity competition. 

“They are really mature kids and have competed at a high level before, so I would not say that they will be any more nervous than they would be at a normal race,” DeGrio said. “During the recruiting process, we talked to the both of them about the ability they have to come in and make an impact right away and they are definitely doing that for us.”

DeGrio said the two freshmen, Cayla Eckenroth and Emmalyne Tarsa, were out sick last weekend as a majority of the team suffered from a bug going around.

“There is always a point in the season when the team gets hit with a sickness and it kind of gets passed around,” DeGrio said. “The past couple of weeks, our top runners have been under the weather, but hopefully they start feeling better and that will carry over into their performance this weekend.”

In a race that will see nearly 300 runners, Ball State will see a Mid-American Conference opponent in Central Michigan, a team that ranked fourth in the conference last year.

“[Central Michigan] is a team that we can stack up really well with, so it will be really good to just see where we are against them,” DeGrio said. “They are a really strong team, so it will be good to see how we match up against them and see where we fall.” 

Ball State will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday to compete in the Greater Louisville Classic. The race will start at 10:15 a.m. at Tom Sawyer Park. 

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