Heading into the 55th Notre Dame Invitational on Friday, the men’s and women’s cross country teams had two goals: running their best and getting at-large wins.
They put themselves in a good position to do both.
If a team finishes in the top two within their region, a win versus that team would qualify as an at-large win.
The Bulldogs placed in front of several ranked opponents at the invitational.
Four of the nation’s top five teams competed in the women’s Blue Race. The men’s Blue Race featured two of the top five teams.
The women’s squad finished 17th and in front of top 40 schools Texas El-Paso, Southern Methodist and host Notre Dame.
They also finished in a dead heat with regional foe Ohio State.
“[Our placing] gives our women confidence within our region,” head coach Matt Roe said.
Sophomores Katie Clark and Kirsty Legg finished 46th and 53rd respectively. Junior Rebecca Howarth came in 73rd, senior Marbeth Shiell finished 93rd and junior Lauren Haberkorn finished 132nd.
The men finished 12th of 21 but were hurt by injuries.
Junior Craig Gundersen, a key runner for the Bulldogs, was held out due to an injury and graduate student Kris Gauson was slowed by a cramp with a half-mile remaining.
“Not having Kris at full strength really hurt our score,” Roe said. “That was a source of frustration for us.”
In spite of the injuries, senior Madison Roeder paced Butler to a 12th-place finish. Roeder finished 31st—just three seconds shy of the top 25.
Freshman Ross Clarke finished just behind Roeder in 39th, while seniors Tom Boardman and Justin Roeder finished 62nd and 72nd respectively.
Butler beat out No. 14 Villanova, which could be an at-large win for the Bulldogs after at-large wins are determined after regional tournaments in November.
Roe’s squads will now prepare for the NCAA Pre-Nationals, which will be held in Terre Haute on Oct. 16.
“Everybody is healthy,” Roe said. “I think we are on the verge of having a big race.”
Roe said his men’s squad needs to improve on the mishaps that happened at Notre Dame, such as having everybody run well on the same day and steering clear of injuries.
Roe labeled the Notre Dame Invitational and the NCAA Pre-Nationals the two most high profile regular season invitationals in the nation.
“Pre-Nationals is a very difficult environment to run well in,” he said. “We want to face the best competition in order to prepare for it.”