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ND Cross Country: Irish squads both place second in meet

Laura Coletti | Monday, September 5, 2011

Both the women’s and men’s teams beat the heat and placed second this weekend at Valparaiso’s Crusader Invitational in Valapraiso, Ind.

The women’s squad was edged out by Northwestern, by a margin of just eight points, while the men were toppled by Marquette by 16 points. In spite of high placements, both as teams and as individuals, the two Irish squads felt there was room for improvement.

“I think we definitely should have been able to win the meet, so it was disappointing that we weren’t able to do that,” junior Jessica Rydberg, who finished second in a field of 81 individuals, said. “We all know where we deserve to be and where we want to be, and we’re going to continue to work to do well in the future.”

Rydberg was joined by freshmen Gabby Gonzales and Emily Frydrych and senior Susanna Sullivan in the top-10. Rydberg, who maintained a medical redshirt status last season due to a stress fracture in her lower back, was happy to return to the course.

“I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m not upset either,” Rydberg said. “I think it was a good starting point. It’s not where I want to be at the end of the season, but I think it’s a good point to begin at and to be able to build on.”

For the men’s squad, sophomores Patrick Lesiewicz and DJ Thornton finished third and fifth, respectively, and were joined in the top-10 by freshman Jason Hoard. Senior Zac Suriano, who finished 18th in the field of 53 runners, had mixed feelings about his team’s results.

“Typically we enter every meet with the expectations to win, so coming in second like we did is a little disappointing,” Suriano said. “Obviously second place is not as good as first, but it’s a good starting point for the guys on the team and a place to move forward from.”

Both teams had to deal with the adverse weather conditions, and the men’s race was shortened from 6000 meters to 5000 meters. Preparation was key in order to perform in the intense heat.

“For the most part, preparation is where you have to take the heat into account,” Suriano said. “You have to really stay hydrated three, four, even five days before the race, even more so than you would have to if it weren’t 95 degrees out. In terms of the race itself, you still try to stay out in front and set the tempo. The heat affects everyone, so all you can really do is prepare before you get there.”

Both teams expect improvement at the next meet in two weeks.

“Going into the race we’re expecting to win, and we’re going to do everything we can to do that,” Rydberg said. “This race will serve as motivation to realize how far we want to be from where we are now.”

The Irish will race again Sept. 16 at the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame.



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