Friday, October 3, 2008

Rudert, women's cross country look to build off wins at Notre Dame

Issue date: 10/3/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

After a two-week hiatus from racing competitively, the women's cross country team will go up against some of the nation's top talent.

CMU travels to South Bend, Ind., today to compete in the 48-team Notre Dame Invitational.

The Chippewas will look to follow up their breakthrough performance two weeks ago at Western Michigan with another strong showing. They compete at 2 p.m. in the Gold Division race against 24 other teams, including Mid-American Conference opponents Ball State, Ohio and Western Michigan.

"It's going to be a lot different," said coach Karen Lutzke. "There's going to be more bodies and it's going to be a more competitive atmosphere. But it's the kind of race situation that we need to get used to."

Between both the Gold and Blue division races, 11 nationally-ranked teams will be competing, including No. 2 Florida State, No. 7 Princeton and No. 8 Michigan State - a team CMU faced twice earlier this season.

Junior Sarah Squires is looking forward to the opportunity to square off against top competition.

"The important thing for us this meet is to be competitive," she said. "With a race this big, we will have plenty of people to run with and to chase after."

In its last race on Sept. 19, CMU defeated Eastern and Western Michigan in Three Rivers. Senior Amanda Rudert placed first, ahead of four teammates who also placed in the top 10.

Lutzke said in the two weeks since their victory, practice has been running smoothly, with the girls alternating days of hard, medium and easy running intensity.

"You can't run hard every single day," Lutzke said. "A runner's body can only take so much pounding and so much hard running until it starts dragging."

Today's race will be held on the Notre Dame Golf Course, a flat course without many hills, generally quick for racers.

But Lutzke said there won't be much of an opportunity to move up, with more than 200 runners compared to the normal 40 the team is accustomed to.

Rudert, fresh off of her first collegiate victory, looks at the meet as an opportunity for the team to make a statement.

"As a team, we were frustrated with the recent regional rankings," she said. "So we are going into this race to prove that our team should be on that ranking list."

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