Nov. 14, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. --- Coming off of third and fourth place finishes at their first ever Atlantic Coast Conference Championships two weeks ago, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Madison, Wis., for the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals Friday, Nov. 15.
This bodes well for the Irish, considering that the Great Lakes Regional meet is the most important race Notre Dame has run in this season. Both teams will have to compete their hardest this weekend in order to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
“There’s honestly more pressure on this meet than the NCAAs, because if we don’t run well here, this is no NCAAs,” explains Piane. “So this is extremely important. But I think that both programs are capable of qualifying.”
Connelly affirms that the whole season is riding this weekend’s meet, and it won’t be an easy road to victory. The other competitors within this region are among the elite cross country teams in the country.
“If you look at this region, it’s one of the deepest and best regions in the country,” Connelly says. “Realistically, there are probably six or seven teams who could get to the NCAAs out of this region. There are at least three teams if not four that have the potential to be in the top 12 at the national level. It’s going to take a great effort in order for us to qualify, whether that’s as automatic top two or as an at-large. We’re not going in there assuming that we can run poorly and get to the national championships.”
Eight women and eight men will make the trip for the Irish. Piane says his goals for the weekend are for two of his runners to make it in the top ten and for the team to score under 100 points.
Regardless of the results of the weekend, however, both coaches say this has been an incredibly rewarding season as they watch some of their student-athletes come into their own. Specifically, Piane mentions sophomore Timothy Ball and Connelly references junior Emily Frydrych, two runners who have developed their strengths in the sport over this season.
The men’s race begins at 12 p.m. CT and the women start at 1:15 p.m. CT at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course tomorrow afternoon.
Notre Dame Runners
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant