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ND Cross Country: Piane looks to guide team to Pre-Nationals

Maija Gustin | Thursday, October 14, 2010

After strong performances at the Notre Dame Invitational, the Irish men’s and women’s teams look to earn big points and valuable experience at the NCAA Pre-National Meet on Saturday.

“Teams will come from east, west, north, south and have the opportunity then to see the course and run on the course,” Irish men’s coach Joe Piane said in an interview with und.com. “There will be roughly 80 teams there.”

The Notre Dame men finished seventh at the Notre Dame Invitational last weekend, while the women placed eighteenth. Competition was stiff and both teams faced some of the top schools in the country amongst the 21-team field.

“We’re going to be better than that,” Piane said.

Though neither team placed first, Piane wasn’t disappointed with the day’s results.

“We did beat some teams that are going to help us get some big points for the NCAA [Championships],” Piane said.

On the men’s side, Piane pointed out senior Dan Jackson, junior Jordan Carlson and sophomore Jeremy Rae as the anchors for the team this season.

Jackson finished first for the Irish at the invitational, coming in at 24:13. Rae finished second at 24:30 with Carlson close behind at 24:41.

For the women, freshman Meg Ryan has been the top runner for the Irish in the last two meets, with a 17:37 finish at the Notre Dame Invitational. Senior Erica Watson followed close behind at 17:41.

“[Watson]’s done an incredible job, I mean, just gotten better and better every year,” Irish women’s coach Tim Connelly said to und.com.

Both teams will be looking to build some momentum and pick up points against top teams at the Pre-National meet. Connelly is specifically looking to get some of the freshmen more experience, especially before the upcoming Big East Championships.

“We need to get some more of the freshmen moving forward to where we thought they could be,” he said. “We’ve got a really young group.”

Notre Dame will get its nationals preview Saturday morning in Terre Haute, Ind.