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Courtesy: Zolton Cohen

Cross Country Ready for 2011 MAC Championship

Courtesy: WMU
Release: 10/28/2011
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KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan cross country team heads to Muncie, Ind., for the 2011 Mid-American Conference Championships on Saturday at noon.

The Broncos saw a huge improvement at last year's MAC Championships, finishing in sixth overall after placing 10th in 2009. WMU lost All-MAC runner Samantha Tomerlin, who placed ninth last year during her senior season, but stronger depth in the 2-through-7 spots could help the Broncos see another climb.

"We lost that front-runner that we had with Sam Tomerlin but I think we have much more depth throughout our pack," said head coach Kelly Lycan. "In the 2-though-5 and 2-though-7 spots we seem to be running at a better level than we were last year and that will help."

WMU had a chance to view the course two weeks ago at the Cardinal Classic, which the Broncos won. Although teams get a walk through of the course the night before, having run on it before helps the team with their race plan designed by assistant coach Dani Prince.

"I think having run on it and having had success on the course takes that little bit of anxiety off the top that you would have if you were seeing the course for the first time," said Lycan. "It takes a lot of the guess work out of the course preparation that you would have if you just had a map. I think coach Prince has helped the younger runners on the team really understand what goes into a race plan and helped them learn how to develop one."

The 6k course has some sharp turns through out and some small rolling hills are mixed in but there is no real extreme obstacle for the runners.

"It is a nice course that is very similar to ours at Pine View Golf Club," said Lycan. "It is very spectator friendly but you have to focus on the sharp turns early on or you'll get buried if you aren't up ahead with the lead pack."

The Broncos had team success the last time they ran the course but senior Amber Brunmeier also had individual success, finishing first overall for the first time in a race in her collegiate career. Brunmeier has been at the front for WMU in every race this season and is looking to finish in the top 14 to earn All-MAC honors.

"I think Amber has a good chance," said Lycan. "This is a very tough conference and she'll be battling it out with some elite runners but I think if she can stay in the top 20 for the race she'll put herself within distance of finishing in the top 14."

After the MAC Championships the Broncos get a week to rest up before the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Toledo.