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Irish look to ‘run’ over BIG EAST competition

Oct 25, 2012, 10:46 AM EDT

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St. John’s University and Van Cortlandt Park will host the next substantial test for the Irish women’s cross-country team. The BIG EAST Championship will feature 15 women’s teams including perennial powerhouses Providence, Georgetown, and defending champion Villanova.

The Irish women look to rebound after a 12th place finish in the Wisconsin Invitational. In Madison, all Irish runners failed to crack the top 50 in the 316-runner field.

The conference championship boasts a field with five teams nationally ranked within the top 25 spots in the USATFCCCA poll.  The Irish enter the contest on Friday ranked 19th in the country.

“We go into every meet with the intention of winning,” head coach Tim Connelly said. “We will be in the hunt if we run like we’re capable; if we don’t, we could finish 6th. That is how strong the field is.”

Other programs won’t be the only obstacles standing in the way of the Irish capturing a BIG EAST title. Van Cortlandt Park is a notoriously arduous track and adds variables to the typical courses Notre Dame competes at.

“We generally run on golf courses or other areas with a lot of grass,” Connelly said. “This (Cortlandt) is mainly trails with crushed limestone and incorporates a lot of hills.”

Friday will be the last tune up race for the Irish before they make a return trip to Madison, Wisc. for the Great Lakes Regional meet. Finishing positions in the regional meet will determine if the Irish earn a spot in the NCAA Championships.

“This meet (BIG EAST) is the first step in achieving our season goals,” Connelly said. “Winning this will give us confidence that will hopefully carry us to a top-2 finish at regionals and an automatic bid to the National Championships.”

The meet begins at 11 a.m. EST. Times and standings will be updated on UND.com at the conclusion of the race.

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