Oct. 2, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- University of Pittsburgh cross country will be back on the course for one of the biggest meets in the country on Friday when it travels to South Bend, Ind., for the 58th Annual Notre Dame Invitational. Races begin at 2 p.m. at the Burke Golf Course.
For the third consecutive meet, Pitt will compete in a meet in which it has little history. Before this fall, only one Panther had run at Penn State in her career and no one on the current roster had ever raced at the St. Vincent Invitational. This weekend will be no different as the Panthers will run in South Bend for the first time in more than 20 years.
The Notre Dame Invitational traditionally hosts some of the nation's top teams and this season is no different. Nine men's and seven women's squads scheduled to compete in South Bend this weekend are ranked among the top 30 in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll, including the No. 7 Tulsa men and No. 2 Florida State women.
Nearly 40 men's and 40 women's team teams competed a year ago with Tulsa taking the men's Blue Race team title and Florida State earning the women's trophy. The Seminoles' women's squad dominated in 2012, totaling 28 points and besting second-place Notre Dame's 110.
The Gold races feature a second tier of competitors. Last fall North Central College won the men's title, while TCU took the women's.
Pitt should have some fresh legs heading into Notre Dame, which expects more than 1,200 runners across five races on Friday. The men's team has been idle for the most part since competing at St. Vincent two weeks ago. Only Matt Dallago competed at St. Vincent for the men, putting the spotlight on the Panthers' women's team.
Rachel Brown won her first-ever individual gold medal at the St. Vincent Invitational, finishing the five-kilometer course in 18:53.8. The sophomore was the third runner in as many meets to earn the title of Pitt's top finisher. Hillary Boxheimer led the squad at the Duquesne Duals, while Dee Dee Adams was first among Panthers at Penn State's Spiked Shoe Invite.
That shifting in leaders is not new for the Panthers, however. The women's squad had four different lead runners in the first four meets last year as well thanks to Amber McAteer (Duquesne Duals), Morgan Perry (Cappy Anderson Invite), Brown (Paul Short Invite) and Elizabeth Tabor (CMU Invite).
Including Friday's Notre Dame meet, just three races remain before the ACC Championships on Nov. 1. The Panthers will return to Pittsburgh for their next meet, competing at the CMU Invitational on Oct. 12 before returning to Indiana for Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute on Oct. 19.
NOTRE DAME INVITATIONAL SCHEDULE
2 p.m. - Women's Gold Division (Pittsburgh included)
2:45 p.m. - Men's Gold Division (Pittsburgh included)
3:30 p.m. - Open Race
4:15 p.m. - Women's Blue Division
5 p.m. - Men's Blue Division
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