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ND Cross Country: Irish battle top teams in Adidas Invitational

A.J. Godeaux | Thursday, October 17, 2013


The Irish travel to Madison, Wis., on Saturday to compete in the fifth annual Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. 

The Irish men dropped from No. 22 to No. 28 in the latest rankings, despite a seventh-place finish in a field of 27 Division I teams at the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 4. Junior Jake Kildoo said the Irish were disappointed with their performance after the Notre Dame Invitational, and made adjustments in practice the last two weeks to get back on track for the Adidas Invitational.

“We don’t necessarily have a chip on our shoulder or anything,” Kildoo said. “We didn’t take our performance at the Notre Dame [Invitational] too heavily because we know it was such a poor reflection of our actual fitness … But we’ve done a lot of work the last two weeks to get out faster, something we struggled with, and then settling into pace as a group.”

In addition to focusing on quickening the pace at the start of races, the Irish made another notable change to their normal practice routine.

“We’ve still trained hard, especially last week, but we’ve also trained a lot smarter,” Kildoo said. “This week we’ve taken it lighter than normal, and I think that’ll better prepare us for this weekend. We’ll be able to have more energy to compete against the great competition we anticipate facing.”

The 35-team men’s field is filled with perennial cross country powers, No. 3 Northern Arizona, No. 5 BYU, No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Portland and Notre Dame Invitational champions, No. 8 Columbia.

“There’s a lot of great teams,” Kildoo said. “If it all goes according to plan, though, we’ll be able to get a group of guys up toward the front, working together.”

The Lady Irish are coming off a sixth-place finish in the Notre Dame Invitational, paced by senior Kathleen Curran’s ninth-place finish. Like the men’s team, Irish women’s coach Tim Connelly said his team has also been working on improving their pace out of the gate.

“Early in the season, you’re mostly working on general preparation work for the season,” Connelly said. “You’re not necessarily focused on race specific work. What got us in trouble at the Notre Dame Invite was we didn’t go out as fast as we should have. Now, we’re just trying to get the confidence to go out a little harder at the beginning of races, and working on staying together.”

 The women’s team will face an equally tough field as the men. Of the 36 women’s teams in the Adidas Invitational field, 12 teams are ranked, including the No. 19 Irish. Three of the top five teams in the latest poll ⎯ top-ranked Providence, No. 3 Arizona and No. 4 Duke ⎯ will be running this weekend.

Connelly said the Irish will look to Curran and fellow senior Alexa Aragon, who placed 17th at the Notre Dame Invitational, for leadership as the season moves forward.

“Those two girls have competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, and are all-Americans in track, [both] outdoor and indoor,” Connelly said. “They have the experience and especially that confidence that I hope the younger runners can develop.”

The Wisconsin Adidas Invitational kicks off Saturday with the men’s 8K championship race at 11 a.m. The Women’s 6K race will follow at noon. The men’s 8K and women’s 6K “B” races will follow at 12:45 and 1:20, respectively. All races will be held at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.

Contact A.J. Godeaux at agodeaux@nd.edu