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ND Cross Country: Men, women to open season at Valparaiso

Laura Myers | Friday, September 5, 2008

The men’s and women’s cross-country teams open the 2008 season today at the Crusader Open in Valparaiso, Ind.

Both teams came in first place at the event last year and are looking to do the same this year. Women’s head coach Tim Connelly said, however, the meet will not be a good indicator for the rest of the season.

“There is no real strong competition at this meet,” he said. “Our approach is fairly low-key.”

Junior Beth Tacl led the Irish at this event last year, placing third on the 4L course with a time of 19:07.

Connelly said he plans only to run the upperclassmen in this meet in order to give the freshmen more time to improve.

“We’re taking a different approach this year,” he said. “We’ve got three seniors and many good upperclassmen.”

Connelly said he will run the freshmen for the first time in the National Catholic Championships, held at Notre Dame on Sept. 19.

He said the meet is mostly a way to gauge the level of fitness and the competitive nature of his runners.

“They’re going to be running tired,” he said. “We’ll see who can dig deep when it starts to hurt.”

The Irish men have won the Crusader Open four times in a row and are looking to make it five with a host of upperclassmen returning.

Senior Patrick Smyth, who finished 15th at last year’s NCAA Championships as a junior, will be leading the Irish on the men’s side. Smyth has earned two All-American accolades in cross-country and one in track and field.

Chris Rodriguez, now a senior for the Irish, won the men’s 6k course last year at the Crusader Open with a time of 19:51.

The Irish men, led by head coach Joe Piane, finished 21st of 30 teams at the NCAA Championship.

In addition to hosting the National Catholic Championships, Notre Dame will host the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 3.