Cross Country: Wildcats not satisified with South Bend success

John Paschall, Reporter

This weekend’s meet at the Notre Dame Invitational proved there has been a culture change in the cross country team.

Any of the girls on the roster will briefly mention the Wildcats’ strong sixth-place finish in a group of teams that included four ranked squads before moving on to how they can improve. Northwestern was even bumped up to a much more competitive division for this race, compared to running with weaker schools in previous years, and still set numerous personal records set in the 5K. Senior Audrey Huth shed 30 seconds off her 5K Notre Dame course time from last season, but all she talked about was who NU didn’t beat.

“We were disappointed that Illinois beat us this weekend,” Huth said. “This weekend was solid but we got together as a group and talked about it and knew we could do a lot better as a team to get them. We just needed to stay closer to them throughout the race and be aware of where they are.”

Last season, the Cats talked about how pleased they were with where they finished, happy with being in a competitive field. Now they’ve set their sights on bigger goals, thanks to the coaching staff and a veteran core of leaders who no longer want to play second fiddle. NU is living up to its program’s slogan of “Run Wild,” and the results are starting to show.

Though the signs of improvement have been clear in the runners’ times, Huth said she believes the Cats will have to work more on their starts in order to reach full potential.

“We need to be better as a team overall at the start,” the senior said. “A group of the girls got a little stuck behind some people at the beginning. If we had gotten out a little bit better, it would have been a little easier to pass people. But moving forward, it’s something that we can fix.”

Michelle Moriset has continued to be a strong presence for the Cats toward the front of NU’s second pack. The junior’s clean bill of health so far this year has also allowed her training partner, junior Lexie Goldsmith, to reap benefits. Goldsmith and Moriset on Friday both posted personal record times of 17:24 and 17:20, respectively.

“It’s awesome,” Goldsmith said of having a strong Moriset to run with. “We are really friends outside of cross-country, too. It’s really good to have someone like that to work with.”

NU also sent half of its squad to compete at the Sean Early Loyola Lakefront Invitational, where it finished fourth overall. Senior Abby Tracy  was the first NU runner to cross the finish line, placing 16th overall.

The Cats have a week off before heading to Madison, Wis., to compete in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and Peoria, Ill., for the Bradley Classic, the final races before the Big Ten Championships at the end of the month.