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ND Cross Country: Tacl begins senior season

Molly Sammon | Wednesday, September 16, 2009

As she prepares for the first race of her final season, Beth Tacl knows that all good things must end – but is looking to delay that end for as long as possible.

The Irish senior will run for the first time in 2009 as Notre Dame hosts the National Catholic Invitational Friday.

“It took a while to have the confidence that I could compete at this level,” Tacl said. “As time has gone on, I feel a lot more confident going into races.”

Though it is Tacl’s fourth year running cross country for the Irish, she still has the same pangs of nervousness associated with the beginning of a season.

“I think it is always a little nerve-wracking going into the first race because you are not exactly sure where you are at fitness-wise,” Tacl said. “Overall though, I am trying to just stay relaxed and confident. I love cross country, and it is hard to believe it is my last season, so I want to just put it all out there one last season and see what happens.”

At the 2008 Catholic Invite, Tacl finished 11th in 18:24 and helped the Irish obtain the overall win.

“Last season went pretty well,” Tacl said. “I was a bit more inconsistent than I would have liked, but I ran well at the regional meet when it was imperative that I ran well.”

Tacl did not race in the team’s first event, the Crusader Open in Valparaiso, Ind., as Irish coach Tim Connelly reserved his best runners for the tougher competition they will see at the Catholic Invite. Her only preparation for Friday’s race has been her training over the summer.

“Our coach gives us a summer training schedule with a goal mileage and workouts,” Tacl said. “Unfortunately this summer, I had some injury problems. My running was a bit more inconsistent than usual, so I spent a lot of time cross-training.”

Because she is one of the team’s top returning runners, the team’s ultimate goal of returning to the NCAA Championships at the end of the season will be greatly aided by Tacl’s potential to place well this season. The team finished 29th last year at the national championships after making their first appearance after three years of not qualifying.

This year, the women’s team has a good chance of receiving a bid in the NCAA’s most competitive race and hope to place better there than they did last season.

“Last year, we made it to nationals and that was exciting, but we are really hoping to get back there and do some damage this time,” Tacl said.