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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Cross country set to compete at first home meet of season

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country programs will compete in their second meet of the season in the National Catholic Invitational at Burke Golf Course on Friday. This will be the first home meet of the season for the Irish. The men’s and women’s programs come into the meet ranked 2nd and 20th in the nation respectively.

Head men’s cross country coach Sean Carlson talked about who he is excited to see race on Friday.

“I’ll be very interested to see [sophomore] Robbie Cozean,” Carlson said. “This will be his first race, as he redshirted last year in the fall. That should be fun, to see where he’s at. He was pretty good out of high school, and he’s made some really good steps forward.”

Carlson expects some of his upperclass students to lead the way for the Irish.

“[Senior] Zach Kreft, [junior] Tom Seitzer and [junior] Carter Cheeseman should kind of know what they are doing and hopefully lead the way for us,” Carlson said.

Carlson discussed what the race plan this weekend will look like compared to the opening meet at Valparaiso two weeks ago.

“At Valpo, the guys kind of ran together, and we didn’t really let them loose,” Carlson said. “We’ll let them loose a little bit more, probably the last mile or two, but basically the idea is that each week we let them loose a little bit more and more.”

Carlson does not plan on racing his top runners this weekend or in two weeks at the Joe Piane Invitational, but he said he hopes Friday’s race will help him make roster decisions going forward.

“This meet is a good indicator of who we are going to be running at the Joe Piane Invitational in two weeks where the competition is going to be stiff just because we aren’t going to be racing our top eight guys quite yet,” Carlson said.

With weather expected in the upper 80s on Friday, Carlson explained how this will affect the race plan.

“We’re going to be a little bit more conservative. Just because I don’t like people getting into trouble with the heat, especially from a health standpoint,” Carlson said. “We’ll be conservative early in the race and not go out too hard just to be cautious of the heat and make sure all our guys are coming out of it in a good place where they are healthy and happy.”

Carlson is excited to have spectators back on the home course after a year of no spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having spectators back makes things a lot more special,” Carlson said. “Notre Dame people travel far and wide, so I expect runners to have families and dorm friends here. I think there is just a little more meaning to it when you’ve got your support system around you. I think all the guys are really excited to get back to a new version of normal.”

The women’s team will also be racing some runners that did not compete in the first meet at Valparaiso.

Head women’s cross country coach Matt Sparks discussed the athletes he is excited to see compete for the first time this year.

“The new faces that haven’t run in uniform ever for us are [first-year] Kate Wiser and [UIndy graduate student transfer] Lauren Bailey,” Sparks said. “They looked great in practice this first month, and I expect them to continue to lead the way for us along with [senior] Katie Rose Blachowicz and [senior] Maddy Denner. Those two have been with us consistently for the last three or four years, and I expect them to lead the way along with those two.”

Junior Olivia Markezich will be the only top athlete for the Irish not competing Friday.

“She is the only one in our top seven that won’t be racing,” Sparks said. “She’s coming off of a bit of a hip issue and is training, but she isn’t quite ready to race.”

Senior Jocelyn Long and sophomore Erin Strzelecki will also be competing for the Irish, and Sparks said he expects them to fill out the top seven for the Irish on Friday.

Sparks said he is very excited to see Lauren Bailey compete on Friday.

“She was a division two superstar. She was a division two national record in the 5K where she set the national division two record in the 5K,” Sparks said. “In two weeks [at the Joe Piane Invitational], she will be thrown to the wolves at the big invitational that we are hosting. It will be interesting to see how she responds to division one competition and the division one team race racing. Running with similar, fit individuals that are all on her same team will be a new experience for her.”

Sparks discussed the race plan for his team on Friday.

“The general philosophy is, we are going to try to get out fast, which is something we will have to do on Oct. 1 at our home invitational,” Sparks said. “But then we are going to try and regroup and settle in for the next few miles and work together to find a group of five or six to move through the course together. Then the last half mile, we are going to give them a chance to turn it on and close fast.”

Like Carlson, Sparks is ecstatic to have fans back on the course on Friday.

“Even the parents didn’t get a chance to watch a year ago at this time,” Sparks said. “It will be nice for the parents to get back on the cross country course and reconnect with each other and reconnect with their kids at the competition. Even throughout indoor and outdoor track where competitions were hit or miss if spectators could come, this is kind of back to a new normal which will be fun.”

The 5K women’s race will take place at 4:15 p.m. and the 5 mile men’s race will start at 5 p.m.