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ND Cross Country: Team to run in Big East championship meet

Maija Gustin | Friday, October 29, 2010

After strong races at the NCAA pre-National Meet, The Irish head to Syracuse Friday to face off against their conference rivals in the 2010 Big East championship.

Both the Notre Dame women and the No. 23 men will race to improve upon their strong performances at last year’s meet against the toughest Big East teams, including Georgetown, Syracuse, Louisville and Villanova.

The Irish men are coming off a seventh-place finish at the pre-National Meet, where senior Dan Jackson finished 19th overall to lead the Irish. Jackson was followed by junior Jordan Carlson, who finished 31st, junior Jonathan Shawel in 55th, sophomore Jeremy Rae in 59th, and freshman Martin Grady in 61st.

“Of course, Dan Jackson ran very well,” Irish men’s coach Joe Piane said. “Jordan Carlson ran very well. It was his best race since he’s been here at Notre Dame. The top five kids all ran very well.”

For the women, senior Erica Watson finished 64th to lead the Irish to 23rd place. Trailing Watson was freshman Meg Ryan in 92nd place, freshman Kelly Curan in 120th, sophomore Rebecca Tracy in 132nd and junior Rachel Velarde in 139th.

The Irish have several Big East veterans returning for this year’s championships. The men finished sixth in 2009 with help from Jackson, Carlson and Shawel. Sophomore Jessica Rydberg returns for the Irish women.

Piane said he was confident in his team’s ability to perform tomorrow.

“We had two very good weeks of training,” Piane said. “We’re trying to get in some easy distance and to get some rest.”

Piane credited Notre Dame’s success to a strong work ethic and a positive training attitude. 

“They worked exceptionally hard doing all the right things this year. They have a tenacious work ethic,” Piane said. “They’re living the lifestyle. They’ve done a very good job of that.”

The Big East championships feature five nationally ranked men’s teams and four women’s teams. For the men, Syracuse currently sits on top at No. 17, while Georgetown follows at No. 21, Notre Dame at No. 23, Louisville at No. 28 and Villanova at No. 29. Villanova is ranked No. 1 for women, with Georgetown at No. 5, Syracuse at No. 8 and Providence at No. 13.

Piane said he believed the meet would come down to a six-team race between the Irish, Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Villanova and Providence.