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ND Cross Country

Carmody, Wiser stand out for Irish at Joe Piane Invitational

| Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The men’s and women’s cross country team competed this past Friday at the Joe Piane Invitational at the Burke Golf Course.

The men’s team held out seven of their top runners from the meet, but the team was still able to place eleventh overall and beat some nationally ranked teams.

Head men’s cross country coach Sean Carlson discussed what Friday’s race meant for his team.

“There were fourteen schools receiving votes for national polls, which means we beat some nationally ranked teams while holding out some of our top guys,” Carlson said. “It was really exciting, and it was a really good experience for some of our younger guys to gain some more racing experience in a big meet setting.”

Senior Matthew Carmody led the way for the Irish on Friday, completing the 5 mile race in a time of 23:22.6, which was good for fourth place overall.

Carlson talked about what Carmody’s race showed him about the rest of his team.

“Obviously he raced really well, taking fourth,” Carlson said. “That kind of shows us where the rest of our top guys are. We were really excited about that. Carmo was our eighth man last year at nationals, so he didn’t run the national meet. Obviously he has gotten better, so where he fits into our lineup I’m not quite sure yet. But the exciting thing is he showed everybody that we are really, really good right now.”

Carlson was also pleased with the performance of redshirt freshman Carter Solomon who was the second Irish to finish the race with a time of 24:35.3.

“Another guy that ran really well, and I think is just going to keep coming on throughout the season was Carter Solomon. That was his first big meet as a redshirt freshman. He went out a little far back and moved up really well. Now he’s got a little bit more confidence to go out more aggressively,” Carlson said.

Carlson emphasized the importance of this result to his team.

“Overall, a really good day. We got the chance to put some younger guys in to get more experience and hold out some guys and still beat some nationally ranked teams,” Carlson said.

Although Carlson thought his team got out a little slow, he thought they did a good job of working their way back into the race.

“I think we got out a little bit further back than I would have thought that we were going to,” Carlson said. “That being said, we did a really good job of adjusting and moving up. Instead of getting sad and giving up, they fought their way back in it. They executed not perfectly but they adjusted well and still got the job done.”

Carlson was pleased to see the amount of depth that his team has.

“There are a lot of scenarios that can screw up a season. We’ve got really good depth, and we could survive things not going perfectly for us. We have a little margin for error, which is really valuable,” Carlson said.

Carlson is excited to see what some of the younger runners who competed on Friday will do in future seasons.

“For the future, it’s exciting because we only graduate two guys after this year,” Carlson said. “We return a really good roster to keep Notre Dame in the conversation where we are a realistic conversation for a podium finish every year.”

Rounding out the top five for the Irish on Friday were junior Tom Seitzer (24:45.1), sophomore Robbie Cozean (24:47.8), and senior Zach Kreft (24:49.4).

The men’s next race will be at pre-Nationals on Oct. 15. The Irish will be racing four All-Americans from last year’s team with senior Dylan Jacobs and Danny Kilrea, junior Jake Renfree and graduate student Andrew Alexander all competing for the first time this season.

The women’s team also competed on Friday, ranking fourteenth place overall in the highly competitive field.

Head women’s cross country coach Matt Sparks was disappointed in how his team ran on Friday, but he has confidence that they can bounce back like they have in past years.

“We learned who we are on Friday, and we are going to get a lot better from there,” Sparks said. “I would rather have it happen early in the season rather than late in the season.”

One of the bright spots for Sparks’ team on Friday was freshman Kate Wiser, who finished first for the Irish and 22nd overall in the race with a time of 16:44.3 in the 5K.

“I was impressed with freshman Kate Wiser to come out and run with confidence the way that she did,” Sparks said.

Rounding out the top five for the Irish on Friday were senior Maddy Denner (16:54.8), junior Olivia Markezich (17:18.1), senior Katie Rose Blachowicz (17:29.6), and graduate student Lauren Bailey (17:32.3).

Sparks is confident that veteran leaders Maddy Denner and Olivia Markezich can be better for his team going forward.

“We just need them to reassert themselves and remind themselves that they’re capable of being up in front for us,” Sparks said. “I’m sure they will be there in the weeks to come.”

Lauren Bailey is another runner who Sparks expected to be near Kate Wiser on Friday.

“We expected her to run right there with Kate as well, and she didn’t,” Sparks said. “She was buried in the back.”

Sparks knows that he has to get more out of his veteran runners going forward.

“The freshman came prepared and confident and executed the way we had hoped,” Sparks said. “The upperclassmen kind of just went through the motions, and the hope is now that they had their wake up call, they will be ready to go next time out.”

Sparks felt that his team could have gotten out faster in the race.

“If you don’t get out and assert yourself early, people aren’t going to come back to you. We got out slow and conservative and as a result, we just couldn’t move up and get to where we needed to be by the end of the race,” Sparks said.

Sparks thought that having fans back might have affected his athletes.

“I think that was a little bit overwhelming for the girls. We have been on that course so many times the last two years with no one there, I think that was almost overwhelming a little bit to see people out there with over 100 teams and several thousand other spectators. I think it was a little intimidating having not seen that for awhile,” Sparks said.

The women will look to rebound in two weeks at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin.

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

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