Cross country heads back to Madison

After a great result at the National Catholic Invitational two weeks ago, the Marquette cross country team is looking to keep the momentum going at two separate meets this weekend.

The team will be looking to follow up a second place finish for the men and a third place finish for the women with strong performances at the Carthage College Invite and the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.

“The Carthage College Invite will be a great race for our developing athletes.” coach Mike Nelson said.

Meanwhile, the big race this weekend is the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, in which Marquette will be running its top athletes.

“This will be one of our biggest invites this year.” sophomore Jack Senefeld said.

“We will be facing some of the toughest teams we will see all year.” senior Olivia Johnson said.

The meet, which will take place on Saturday, will feature top Big 10 schools, like Ohio State. The event is being held at Wisconsin-Madison’s home course, which will be the host for the 2010 Big 10 Championships.

This is also a course which Marquette raced well in their meet of the year, the Wisconsin Badger Classic.

“I feel that we will definitely have an advantage having raced the course previously this year,” Nelson said. “There won’t be any surprises.”

That is not to say that Marquette is likely to dominate the meet. It will be facing several nationally ranked runners on both the men’s and women’s sides. Both Johnson and Senefeld felt it was important that the team try to “run its own race.”

“I think if we work as a pack, everyone will perform well,” Senefeld said. “There will be better racers out there, but it is important that we keep a level head.”

Johnson echoed those sentiments. “We know the field will be strong. It is important that you not get caught up in what the other racers are doing.”

Both Nelson and Johnson agreed that this would be good experience for the relatively young Marquette team, which has a total of 15 freshman, although not all of them will be running at Wisconsin.

Senefeld was quick to point out that although mostly underclassmen, the team has great leadership.

“The senior leadership is the heart and soul of our team,” he said. “Nick Szczech and Brice Cleland have been top seven for our team in every race. It sets a great example for the younger guys.”

Nelson said that overall, the youthfulness of his team does not really affect their performance on the field.

“Because the sport is so individualized, youth isn’t as much of a factor as it is in other sports,” Nelson said. “Some freshman train very well and therefore can come in and compete right away. We do have great leadership though, and Brice (Cleland) and Nick (Szczech) are definitely key members of the team.”

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