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ND Cross Country

Turner takes over for Piane

| Wednesday, August 27, 2014

After a 39-year tenure as head coach of the track and field and cross country program, Joe Piane hands the torch over to Alan Turner.

Turner, who has been part of the coaching staff for the past five seasons, was the assistant coach from 2012 to 2014. Throughout his tenure as assistant coach, Turner helped Notre Dame runners and hurdlers achieve various successes, coaching 18 first-team all-Americans and 17 ACC and Big East conference champions.

Despite losing their veteran head coach, the athletes support Turner as their new mentor. Junior Molly Seidel said the team is most excited about the high expectations Turner has set for the runners from the moment he took the head coaching position.

“He immediately tried to contact everyone on the team [after becoming head coach] and told us what his mission statement and goals were,” Seidel said. “He wants us to win championships, to continue getting better and to have all of the athletes be the best they can possibly be.”

There aren’t any fears in taking on the new challenges Turner holds for the athletes this upcoming season.

“I think it’s good for us to have high expectations because it pushes us to reach to where we never thought we could go,” Seidel said.

Seidel competed in four meets last season including the NCAA championship. Her best finish was at the National Catholic Championship where she was the seventh runner of 91 to cross the finish line. Regardless of her individual successes, Seidel said she believes her team can do better.

“Last year was really disappointing,” Seidel said. “A lot of problems with injuries hurt us, and our mindsets weren’t where they needed to be. We needed to be more mentally tough. We need to focus on the team aspect of the sport more. It’s much more of a team sport than track. You’ve got to make sure you remember that, when you’re running, you’re running for your teammates.”

Seidel said the team so far has transitioned relatively well with Turner taking the helm of the program.

“It’s been smooth since Turner has been there for a while, and everyone knows who he is,” Seidel said. “A lot of us are comfortable with it. While there are larger changes with the staff, which will need a little bit of an adjustment, in the long run, it’ll be good for the team.”

Seidel also mentioned that despite losing key senior runners, the team is ready to step up as a unit, and the upperclassmen are prepared to take on leadership roles.

“This year we graduated three of our seniors [in the women’s cross country team],” Seidel said. “I think this year, as we move forward, we’re obviously looking towards our seniors in Emily Frydrych, Hannah Eckstein, Gabby Gonzales and the rest of the senior girls, but we’ve also got the juniors and underclassmen who are looking to be strong. They’re ready to show leadership and be courageous out on the course. We don’t have one defined leader, and I think it’s better that way. Everyone is really stepping up, and that might even be better for our team.”

The Irish start the season Sept. 5 during their annual trip to the Crusader Open in Valparaiso. The race is set to begin at 6 p.m.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

Contact Manuel