Runners finally get going

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Marquette teams have dominated the event over the past several years, with the women taking first place the past three years and the men the past two.

After waiting a week longer than most other cross country programs to start the season, head coach Dave Uhrich is looking forward to the first meet of the year.

“I’m glad we don’t have meets as early as some of these other schools do, but in the same sense I’m anxious to go,” Uhrich said. “We’ve had some good workouts and I’m curious to see how the team will look in an actual race setting as opposed to just practices.”

He said starting later than most teams should not have an adverse effect on the season, but will instead provide Marquette with an advantage.

“Some of these teams have run a couple of meets already,” Uhrich said. “But we’ve always started a little later, and I think that’s a good thing — it lets us get some workouts in before we start racing.”

The women’s squad, looking to continue a run of three straight conference championships, heads into Friday’s meet ranked 27th in the nation, according to the Women’s Cross Country Coaches Association.

“Preseason national rankings don’t necessarily mean that much,” Uhrich said. “It’s a nice honor, but I’d rather be nationally ranked in the middle to later part of the season. That’s more important.”

The women will be without three of their top five runners. Star runner Brianna Dahm suffered a minor injury over the summer after running an extended track season, sophomore Ali Sauer has had injury problems throughout the first weeks of practice and sophomore Jodi Jakubek is having health problems.

The three women’s runners will be missed, but their coach said Dahm is back at full health and will run next week at Minnesota.

“If I was really concerned about this meet, I would be running Brianna, who is healthy,” Uhrich said. “But I’m looking more to help her and the team later in the year.”

On the men’s side, last year’s Conference USA MVP sophomore Brent Des Roches and junior Jason Crichton will also sit out the invitational. Both have been dealing with nagging injuries since the beginning of the season.

Uhrich said Des Roches, Crichton, Sauer and Jakubek may all be facing the prospect of redshirting this season if their injuries do not improve. He put their odds at sitting out this year at 50-50.

“It just kind of depends on how they come back from these setbacks,” he said. “They’re all very valuable runners, and if they’re not going to be close to 100 percent, it’s not worth using a season on them — and they’d be better off redshirting.”

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