NC State Cross Country Takes First And Second At Notre Dame Invitational
The coaches said all along that the Notre Dame Invitational would be NC State’s first real test of the 2006 cross country season. The test at South Bend is over, and the Wolfpack men and women both aced the exam.
The first five NC State men ran just 19 seconds apart and the Pack’s top seven runners all finished in the top 40 as the Wolfpack finished first in a field that included seven ranked teams, including top-ranked Wisconsin. NC State won with a team score of 86, followed by No. 27 Providence at 109, No. 15 Michigan at 123, No. 16 Notre Dame at 160, No. 26 Florida at 160, and No. 24 Florida State at 165.
On the women’s side, NC State entered the race ranked 12th and came in second in a field that also included seven ranked teams, and the Wolfpack women came in a strong second behind third-ranked Michigan. The Wolverines won with a team total of 57 points to the Pack’s 95. No. 16 Providence was third at 120, No. 29 Florida State was fourth at 124, and No. 7 Illinois was fifth at 126.
Individually, NC State had no runners in the top 10, but four in the top 16 and seven in the top 40. Senior Bryce Ruiz took 11th place in a time of 24:07, the second time in as many races that he has crossed the finish line first for the Pack. Stephen Furst, John Crews and Wes Smith, all juniors, officially crossed the finish line 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, but with identical times of 24:10. Tibor Vegh rounded out the scoring for NC State, finishing 30th in a time of 24:26.
“We ran well, but I really believe we can run better than that,” Wolfpack head coach Rollie Geiger said. “And I don’t mean any disrespect to the field. This was a really good field. Wisconsin didn’t run all of their top guys, but the competition still was very good.
“The most positive thing is that we ran well as a group. The gap between our first and fifth runner was 19 seconds. That’s how we won the race. I’m very pleased with that. But I think that down the road we’re going to run at a higher level than that, and we’ll have to.”
On the women’s side, true freshman Bona Jones took individual honors for the Wolfpack, running fourth overall in a time of 16:55, just three seconds out of second place. Sophomore Brittany Tinsley was sixth at 16:58, and senior Julia Lucas was 11th at 17:09, followed by junior Angelina Blackmon at 17:19. The next Wolfpack runner to cross the finish line was Kara McKenna, another true freshman, at 17:45, 26 seconds behind Blackmon.
“Obviously we had some very positive individual races, especially from Bona and Brit, but we had much too big a gap from 1-5,” associate head coach Laurie Henes said of the women’s race. “Actually, we kept the gap small from 1-4, but we had too big a gap from 4-5. We have to close that gap and we will. We have the runners in this program to get that done.”