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Team looks to bounce back in ’08

Marie Bugnitz | Wednesday, August 27, 2008

After a disappointing season last fall, Notre Dame is hoping to stay healthy and atop the Big East in 2008.

The Irish ran to first place finishes in the National Catholic Championships and the Crusader Invitational in early September before seriously dropping off. They ended the year with an 11th place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, which knocked them out of contention for the national race.

“We are coming off of a very disappointing season last year where we had a number of injuries and illnesses that decimated us. Our big key will be to stay healthy and improve as the season progresses,” Irish coach Tim Connelly said.

Connelly said that the key to staying healthy is sleeping enough, eating well, and doing all the things needed to recover from the strenuous training that a long distance runner puts herself through.

“That is something that most college kids aren’t always really conscientious of,” he said. “But our runners have to be conscientious of it if they hope to stay healthy and reach their potential as runners.”

With underclassmen making up over half the team, the Irish will be relying on young talent to carry the team this year. The team has three seniors and two juniors who have previously run in the top seven.

“If we are to be successful, the reality is that we will need several freshman and several others who have not been contributors in the past to step up and contribute,” Connelly said.

Junior Lindsey Ferguson and sophomore Marissa Treece are expected to be among the fastest finishers this season. Both ran well last season for both the cross country and track teams. Their cross country years were cut short last fall when both Treece and Ferguson contracted mono.

Connelly is hopeful that if his runners can stay healthy that they will be competing for a Big East championship and at the very least qualify for the NCAA Finals.

The team starts their season Sept. 5 at the Crusader Invitational in Valparaiso, Ind. – an event that the Irish won in 2007.

“Our first several meets in September will be fairly low- key, and we will use them to assess where we are as a team. It will give us an idea of where some people are fitness and competitiveness wise,” Connelly said.

Connelly said he wasn’t planning on running the entire team at Valparaiso and would most likely hold most of the freshmen out of the race.