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Irish host top teams at ND Invite

Molly Sammon | Friday, October 2, 2009

The Irish will host the 54th annual Notre Dame Invitational today, facing the toughest competition either of the undefeated Irish teams have seen this season.

“Our meets get progressively more competitive, and this one is very difficult,” Irish men’s coach Joe Piane said. “It is better than any race we’re going to be in until the pre-national meet.”

As one of the oldest and comparatively more prestigious meets in the nation, many ranked teams and previous champions will be vying for top spots at the Burke Golf Course on campus. 

“I believe that [the Notre Dame Invitational] will be the most competitive early season meet in the country,” women’s coach Tim Connelly said. 

In the women’s division, the top-ranked reigning national champions Washington Huskies will lead the competition. Eleven other ranked teams will compete, including No. 3 Florida State, No. 6 Princeton, No. 12 Providence, No. 13 Arizona State and No. 15 Florida.

“There are a number of other unranked teams who are certainly capable of being so, and will try to prove it this week,” Connelly said.

The Irish women’s team is currently ranked 24th and will have to provide a good fight on the course today.

In the men’s competition, a total of 10 ranked teams will be coming to South Bend for the Invitational, including No. 11 Tulsa, No. 15 Providence, No. 24 New Mexico and No. 26 Florida State, all ranking ahead of the No. 28 Notre Dame men.

The Irish look to today’s event as their chance to not only establish a higher team ranking, but also to improve their resume for the NCAA Championship meet.

“It is important to run well both to solidify a ranking, but most importantly because beating teams here can help solidify a bid to the NCAA meet at the end of the season,” senior Beth Tacl said. 

There will be five total races, a blue race and a gold race for each men’s and women’s divisions, depending on ability, and an open race for all others competing. Notre Dame will be competing in the blue race in each division. The women’s blue race starts at 4:15 p.m. and the men’s blue race begins at 5 p.m.