Lightning struck a few miles from the Miami University cross-country course. Then Hunter Moore struck.
The IU junior won the Miami Opener as the IU men’s cross-country team cruised to a victory over Ohio State, the University of Kentucky, and Miami University of Ohio. Six of the top seven runners were Hoosiers.
Skylar Stidam, sophomore, finished second in the race for IU as he teamed up with Moore to race away from the pack over the final two kilometers of the 8K course around a soybean field in Oxford, Ohio.
Moore, a former state champion in Ohio. transferred from Eastern Michigan last year to IU but hadn't been able to find success in Bloomington. With literal electricity in his home state, that changed very quickly.
“I’ve kind of been struggling to find out who I am a runner,” Moore said. “Today was finally the breakthrough of who I want to be as a runner.”
In the women’s race, IU finished 3rd behind winner Ohio State and host Miami. With the Hoosiers resting their top three runners, IU raced just six bodies in a race that was delayed over 30 minutes due to lightning in the Oxford area. Sophomore Abi Little stood out for IU, finishing seventh while highly- touted freshman Mikaela Rameriez ran a solid eight.
“It was hard mentally to lock back in, but the team handled it really well,” Little said. “We raced what we were trained to do.”
With the IU runners still learning about each other and themselves, they stuck together as a team for much of the 6K race. In the final kilometer, Little and Ramirez broke away to claim top 10 finishes amongst a talented group of ranked Ohio State runners.
There was no doubt it was a big test for the Hoosiers, and even with the third place result, everyone from 13-year head coach Ron Helmer to the runners seemed pleased.
“We did a really good job of packing together, and it was our first race,” Little said. “People found who they should be running with and where they belong
The men’s race was about patience and endurance for IU. The race started as a tight pack as 65 athletes stayed compact in humid conditions.
IU was in the back of the pack for much of the first half of the race with the exception of the aggressive Moore. The Ohio native sat right on the front line and was able to stage a Hoosier-dominated breakaway around the 6K mark of the race.
“Keep on squeezing the juice, start progressing, by the end make sure you are running hard,” said Moore. “Even though it’s an early season meet we are still trying to feel our feet out there.”
The endurance, training and talent of the 16th ranked team in the nation, according to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association was apparent as IU runners seemingly had more in the tank than the three unranked teams in Oxford.
However, even with the dominant performance, Coach Helmer has also sat out most of the top Hoosier runners on the men’s side. The performance by seemingly little-known runners only raises expectations for the men in Bloomington.
“This just shows this team is super deep, we have a lot of guys who are ready to rock and roll,” said Moore. “We have huge goals this season. We know who we are as a team, we are ready to shock the world.”
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