With a solid group of veterans and strong showings in the season’s first two meets, the women’s cross country team finds itself occupying a current No. 35 national ranking. To continue the climb up the coaches association poll, the Red will have to get past nine of the elite programs ranked above them at today’s 49th annual Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind. Among them are No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 6 Michigan and No. 12 UCLA, all representing a caliber of team the Red has not faced this year.
“It’s going to be loaded,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “You could make the argument that there are going be more people here than at the Pre-National meet [next week in Terre Haute, Ind.]. At the Pre-National meet, they take everyone there and divide them in half, so arguably this is going to be a much deeper race than you’re likely to find there.”
Duesing will be accompanying nine team members to Notre Dame, a much smaller squad than has competed in the previous two races. The harriers making the trip know they must improve upon last week’s fourth place finish at Iona’s Meet of Champions against such stiff competition.
“I expect that we are going to have many breakthrough performances, especially from some of my teammates who have been training hard the past few weeks and have not been very satisfied with their performances in the first two meets,” said junior Emily McCabe.
Duesing would have liked more aggressiveness from his runners during the initial stages of the Iona race, and the team believes Notre Dame’s Burke Memorial Golf Course will facilitate that.
“It’s a very different course than what we’ve run,” Duesing said. “It’s 5,000 meters instead of 6,000, so that’s a welcome change. It’s also very flat, and that too will be a welcome change because the first race at Army was extremely hilly and the back hills are a real challenge at Van Cortlandt Park [in the Bronx].”
“The course itself is very flat compared to those that we have run on thus far, and I think that everyone is excited to run fast,” said senior Kate Boyles. “Also, it’s only a 5K, which is the same distance as the HEPS [Heptagonal Championships], so this should be a good trial run for that meet.”
The Red’s national ranking serves as an indication that the team should not be overlooked by the nation’s best, but Duesing does not put too much stock in it.
“To a certain extent, some teams are ranked based on last year’s information or on what they’ve done in one meet,” he said. “There’s a lot that will change. I think that people recognize that we’ve got a very strong group back and people are running well and we deserve that kind of consideration. Depending on what happens this week, we’ll either go up or we’ll go down. But that will be a reflection on what happens on that day, not necessarily what’s going to happen later on in the season.”
The runners not going to Indiana will be staying close to home, competing at tomorrow’s Geneseo Invitational in Geneseo, N.Y.
“We never like to split the team,” said senior captain Sarah Coseo. “But [the Notre Dame] meet gives us an excellent opportunity to compete against some of the top teams in the nation.”
Archived article by Dan Schiff
Sun Staff Writer