No. 5 men face top competition in Greenville
By KATIE HUGHES
The front of the pack will be a little more crowded this Saturday for the men's cross country team.
The No. 5 Irish head to the Pre-National meet at the Furman Cross Country Course in Green-ville, S.C., and will face their toughest competition thus far.
No. 1 Colorado and No. 2 Stanford are tentatively scheduled to be at the meet, as well as No. 9 Villanova, Duke, Wake Forest, Northern Arizona and Michigan State. At least half of the teams ranked in the top 25 will at the meet.
"We're hoping as a team to come out with a win," said senior Ryan Shay.
Seniors Shay, Luke Watson, Marc Striowski, Pat Conway and Sean Zanderson, as well as sophomores Todd Mobley and Mario Bird will run for the Irish.
"Conway was sick last week, and Mario ran very well in his race," said head coach Joe Piane.
The participating teams at Pre-Nationals will be divided evenly into two heats based on the current rankings.
"Stanford and Colorado will not be in same heats, but that will be excellent competition," said head coach Joe Piane. "Colorado State has been running awfully well."
In last week's Notre Dame Invitational, Watson finished first for the Irish, followed by Shay and Mobley. Striowski took fifth overall, and Zanderson finished 17th. Saturday, the Irish pack will have more to push them than each other. Watson and Striowski both finished in the top 10 in last year's Pre- National meet.
Shay was battling a cold in last week's meet and was still trying to beat it as Pre-Nationals drew closer.
"I'm hoping by Saturday to get better," said Shay. " I'm trying to get as much rest as possible, doing everything your mom tells you to do."
Bird finished second overall in last week's Gold division race to earn a spot among the seven runners going to Pre-Nationals.
Who the Irish beat in this meet will have a big influence on whether they will be able to get an at large bid to go to Nationals. The top two teams at regionals qualify automatically.
"This meet has a lot to do with who gets at-large bids," said Piane, " But I'd like to think we won't need one."
All Sports Stories for Friday, October 12, 2001