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ND Cross Country: Experienced runners lead Irish charge

Alex Wilcox | Tuesday, September 3, 2013

After a disappointing finish to what had been a promising season last year, Notre Dame comes into this year with lofty expectations.

Junior Chris Quinn said he expects to improve upon last year’s finish, when the Irish men placed third in the Big East and 28th at the NCAA championships.

“I think we finished out the season as best we could with what we had,” Quinn said. “I think this year we can do a lot better, assuming everyone stays healthy. As a team, our expectations are to be at least [in the] top 10 at nationals. We definitely have the talent for it. We only lost two seniors from the varsity and we have a couple of sophomores and juniors who will be able to step up and really help out.”

Quinn was particularly excited about the darkhorse potential of several runners, including sophomore Michael Clevenger, junior Jake Kildoo and himself.

“Clevenger, who redshirted last season, started out really well [last year],” Quinn said. “He was at about 24:38 for the 8-kilometer, which is terrific for a freshman, and I think he could’ve done better, but he had a minor hamstring injury. He worked hard during the track season and over the summer, and he’s definitely going to be one of the top seven for us.”

In addition to the lineup of upperclassmen, Quinn sees a lot of potential in this year’s freshman class, including Jacob Dumford, whom Quinn said has large versatility as a runner.

“[Dumford] and another freshman, Chris Moran, will do well for the team,” Quinn said. “I’m not sure if they’ll be running varsity because we have a really strong junior and senior class, as well as two fifth-years, but I definitely think having really talented freshmen coming in will push everyone forward.”

In order for the team to reach its top-10 goal, Quinn said he believes all team members must stay focused, even if they are not one of the top seven runners who score in meets.

“I think the most important thing is everybody being accountable for themselves, even if they’re not within that top seven, and making sure that everyone stays healthy,” Quinn said. “That was the biggest problem we had last year, where guys were letting small injuries go unnoticed and then they developed into big injuries.”

The Irish open their season Friday at the Crusader Open in Valparaiso, Ind.

Contact Alex Wilcox at [email protected]