ND Cross Country: Teams travel to run in championship meet
Molly Sammon | Friday, October 30, 2009
The season’s intensity is picking up for the Irish as they travel to Kenosha, Wisc. for the Big East championship meet Saturday.
“Like many years, the Big East is again one of the most competitive conferences in the country for women’s cross country,” Irish women’s coach Tim Connelly said. “It obviously will be a huge challenge for us to compete well against great competition and have the chance to beat some of the top teams in the country.”
The Big East championship meet holds much importance in comparison with the rest of the season, as an exceptional performance is necessary to be a competitive team at the NCAA regional meet in mid-November.
“I hope that we can run significantly better than we have at the pre-national meet and at the Notre Dame Invitational if we’re going to take a team to the region meet,” Irish men’s coach Joe Piane said. “Anyone can go to the region meet, but I won’t see a need to take the team to the regional meet if they’re not going to be competitive.”
The Irish women’s team is ranked 30th in the country and expects to see tough competition from Villanova, West Virginia, Georgetown, Syracuse and Providence who all sit ahead of them in the national rankings.
In the men’s competition, Georgetown, Syracuse, Providence, Louisville and Villanova all boast top-30 national rankings and will be pushing the men’s team to run harder this Saturday.
To prepare themselves for the conference event, the teams held difficult practices during the mid-semester break.
“We trained very hard, and very well last week during the fall break,” Connelly said. “It was nice to be able to focus on running without a lot of other stressors and distractions.”
During this past week of training, the women’s team is taking a rebuilding week to promote optimal health for Saturday.
“This week we are focusing more on getting recovered from that hard work and getting ready to race on Saturday,” Connelly said.
The men’s team has made some changes to the type of preparation they will be doing before the conference championships.
“We’ve done a lot of distance training,” Piane said. “We’re trying to do things a little more up-tempo than we have in the past and have introduced speed into our training.”
One challenge the teams are both facing going into the Big East championship meet is the struggle with staying healthy.
“Many of our runners have battled the cold and flu illnesses that have been widespread on campus this fall.” Connelly said. “We are hopeful that everyone will be able to line up healthy on Saturday.”
At the team’s last event, the pre-national meet where the men placed 15th of 35 teams, and the women finished ninth of 37. Each team hopes to improve on those placements to be able to have a competitive team at the Great Lakes Regional meet and be able to send as many runners as possible to the upcoming NCAA championship meet.
“We have yet to have a race where we felt that all five scorers ran as well as they possible could, so we are looking for that this weekend,” Connelly said.