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ND Cross Country: Irish prepare for stiff competition at home

Joe Wirth | Friday, September 28, 2012

Following decisive victories in their last outings, the Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams will take on some of the best programs in the country at Friday’s 57th annual Notre Dame Invitational.

This is the second home meet in a row for the squad, but Irish coach Joe Piane said that is where the similarities end between the two meets.

“It was great to come out on top two weeks ago,” Piane said. “But that race pales in comparison to the importance of this race. “In the race two weeks ago, we were the only ranked team, but in [Friday’s race] there will be about five or six ranked teams on the women’s side and 10 or 11 ranked teams on the men’s side. The quality of opponents is significantly better.”

Piane said this race is also very important for the team’s NCAA tournament hopes. as the number of at-large points they accumulate this season could play a factor.

“A team gets at-large points based on how many ranked teams they finish ahead and, because this race has such a strong field, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up those points that we may need at the end of the year,” Piane said.

As the team approaches the middle of the season, Piane said he is pleased with the progress of his underclassmen, especially the freshmen.

“The younger runners are coming along very well,” Piane said. “I have two of them in my top seven and they are very competitive. [Freshmen] Kevin Durham and local boy Josh O’Brien have really run well.”

Both the Irish men and women have run well in this event over the years, winning a combined total of 21 team titles and 11 individual titles in the event’s history.

The meet will begin at 2 p.m. Friday with the women’s 3.1-mile race, followed by the men’s five-mile race. Both races will take place at the Notre Dame Golf Course.

Contact Joe Wirth at jwirth@nd.edu