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ND Cross Country: Runners try to erase memory of last season

Jay Wade | Friday, September 7, 2007

Last season brought mixed results for Notre Dame: The men’s team finished 19th at the 2006 NCAA Championships, while the women failed to make the NCAA meet and placed third in the Big East, a disappointing outcome from a perennially powerful team.

Both, however, have high expectations for the new season, which begins today at 5 p.m. at the Crusader Invitational in Valparaiso, Ind.

The men, who return nine seniors and nine juniors, plan to continue on the path set last year.

The women will look to get back into form as they return all top nine runners from last season, including seven seniors.

“I think our goal is to be a lot better than we were a year ago because last year, to be honest, was a little bit of a down year,” women’s coach Tim Connelly said. “We got used to fighting to be winning the Big East. … I think the theme for this year is raising our expectations.

“We have our top nine kids back from a year ago, so that’s a pretty good starting point, and we have some freshmen coming in that I think can be contributors … so I think our group is pretty excited about the potential we’ve got and they have high expectations of themselves.”

The invitational, which is run more like an exhibition, will help show coaches which freshmen and returning runners are ready to compete.

“[The] meet will be for giving some of our less experienced kids an idea of how to compete, line up, and race a little bit,” Connelly said. “Somebody always comes out of that meet who becomes a big contributor down the line and will end up being a big player for us throughout the season.”