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ND Cross Country: ND finishes in top third of field

Maija Gustin | Monday, October 4, 2010

This weekend, the Irish hosted the 55th annual Notre Dame Invitational, welcoming some of the top teams in the country at the Warren Golf Course.

Irish men’s coach Joe Piane said that the invitational was an “opportunity for both the women and men to pick up large points to qualify for the NCAA Championships.”

After this weekend’s performance, the Irish are well on their way after successful finishes by both teams.

In the 21-team men’s competition, the Irish finished in seventh place with 208 points. With six of the top 25 teams in the country competing, including eventual Invitational winner No. 3 Oregon, Piane said the race was “phenomenal.”

Senior Dan Jackson, who finished 15th individually, was the top runner for the Irish, crossing the line at 24:13. Sophomore Jeremy Rae followed close behind in 24:30, while junior Jordan Carlson finished third for the Irish with a time of 24:41. The rest of the Irish lineup included freshman Martin Grady, who finished in 24:44, and senior Mat Abernethy, who crossed at 25:19.

Piane said that the women’s race was “unbelievable,” as it featured 12 nationally ranked teams. These included Invitational winner No. 1 Villanova, No. 2 Florida State, No. 3 Washington and No. 5 Oregon.

The Irish women came in 18th overall with 402 points. Freshman Meg Ryan finished first for the Irish with a time of 17:37. Ryan was joined by senior Erica Watson, who crossed at 17:41, and sophomore Rebecca Tracy, who turned in a time of 17:57. Juniors Rachel Velarde and Susanna Sullivan contributed with times of 18:02 and 18:03.

“This meet [was] as tough a meet as we’re going to face all year besides the NCAAs,” Piane said. “It [was] also a meet to get us to the NCAAs.”

The Irish will next compete in the NCAA Pre-National Meet on Oct. 16, which Piane said he believes will be very challenging. The tournament is expected to feature as many as 80 schools.