Terre Haute -- The men's cross country team competed here Saturday to take on the nation's finest at the Pre-Nationals meet. The team placed fourth in their heat of 35 teams, led by three redshirt freshmen.\nFreshmen John and Sean Jefferson once again led the way for the Hoosiers with 16th and 18th overall finishes respectively. Freshman Eric Redman went out with the fast pace and held on to finish third place for the team and 57th overall in the eight kilometer race. \n"Our top three guys were freshmen," junior Bart Phariss said. "How great is that?"\nThe Jeffersons have led the team, along with Phariss, all season long. John Jefferson has been the team's number one runner in every meet with Sean closely behind.\nJuniors Phariss and Tom Burns rounded out the team's scoring with 64th and 82nd place finishes.\nThe team approached the meet as a low-stress big meet. The purpose of the meet was to give teams a chance to run on the course of the NCAA Championship meet on Nov. 25 and also to give teams a chance to run against top competition to earn an at-large bid to nationals.\nTo earn a spot at the NCAA Championship meet, a team must finish in the top three at Districts or earn an at-large bid. The Hoosiers have already beat top teams with fine performances at the Indiana State Invitational and have a No. 17 national ranking. This put little pressure on the team to perform well at the meet Saturday.\n"I think if you asked the guys, they would say they ran just about average," coach Robert Chapman said. "Luckily, our average is pretty good."\nChapman said the team did not really come in with any expectations. He expects for the team to hit its peak for nationals. He said that if the team can fire on all cylinders for nationals, they can do pretty well.\n"We had redshirt freshmen go one, two, three and that's pretty special," Chapman said. "And you know the older guys will be running well by the end of the season, so it looks like everything's clicking."\nThe team did benefit from the opportunity to race on the course where the NCAA Championships will be held. The team already raced there once for the Indiana State Invitational where they placed runner-up.\n"I think it is helpful to run on the ISU course a number of times before the championship meet," Sean Jefferson said. "I think knowing the course will give me a bit of an advantage over the other guys who have never run there before."\nThe team will compete next at the Big Ten Championships in West Lafayette on Nov. 3.
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