Coming off a second place finish at the IWU Twilight invite, Ball State Cross Country will face a tall task this weekend in the Spartan Invitational at Michigan State University.

More than 200 competitors from around the nation will be competing in East Lansing this weekend running a championship distance of a 6K course. Alongside the Cardinals, Mid-American Conference teams Western Michigan and Central Michigan will be competing as well.  

While this may be just another race for the team, the invitational will act as a homecoming of sorts for head coach Rachel McFarlane 

“For me, I am going back home to Michigan State and i’m excited,” McFarlane said. “I ran there for my collegiate career, so it’s a little homecoming for me. We also have a few girls from Michigan, so it’ll be exciting for them as well.”

Since the beginning of the season, the Cardinals have seen a lot of improvement on the course. The team has begun to run more as a pack having more runners in higher placement. Sophomore Cayla Eckenroth finished in second place last weekend and junior Maritza Rodriguez followed taking fourth place. Alongside, spots 13, 15, 16, 17, 26, 28, and 29 were taken by packs of Cardinal runners.  

“We are working on running together as a pack, and it’s just nice to key off each other and work off of each other’s strengths,”  junior Peyton Kneadler said “Running by a teammate is so much better than running alone. Our main goal is to have a big pack in the middle and keep going and not fall asleep and if we do that, the whole group should do well.”

With the Cardinals getting ready to go into one of the biggest meets of the season, MacFarlane is excited for the team to have an experience running at this meet and showing the team where she ran in college. 

“I’m excited to show my experience and my whole journey at Michigan State and this is one of my favorite meets with a good course,” McFarlane said. “The fact that I can just show them that and experience a piece of something that I experienced is just really cool.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The Cardinals will run this Friday at 12:15 p.m. in East Lansing. 

Contact Olivia Adams with any comments at or on Twitter @olivia_adams5