Wednesday, November 14

UCLA cross country prepares for tough meet at Notre Dame Invitational


Senior Alex Crabill is scheduled to race in Friday's Notre Dame Invitational.

Senior Alex Crabill is scheduled to race in Friday's Notre Dame Invitational. UCLA Athletics


For senior Alex Crabill and his cross country comrades, 95-mile-a-week runs may not be intense enough.

On Tuesday, coach Forest Braden emphasized speed as the team ran 300-meter repetitions out on the Intramural Field in preparation for the first big meet of the cross country season. Additionally, the team performed eight-mile tempo runs to maintain well-balanced conditioning.

“We’re getting some quality, getting their legs moving a little bit, making sure we’re ready for a faster race,” Braden said. “I know (the course) is flat and fast, and we’re ready for fast times.”

With top teams coming from all regions of the country, fast is certainly the minimum expectation Friday at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

“It’s a really competitive meet with teams across the country,” Crabill said. “It’s important for us to get as many wins as possible with teams from all regions in order for us to advance runners to Nationals.”

Ten top-30 women’s teams, including top-ranked Washington as well as eight top-30 men’s teams, will represent their squads at the star-studded starting stripe.

“The competition is going to be really tough, which is what we need right now,” Braden said.

Though the possibility of anxiety and nerves taking over at the line is certainly realistic, junior Shannon Murakami believes that the team members’ mindsets are exactly where they should be.

“Honestly, it’s not about who is going to be on the line,” Murakami said. “If we come out and give our best, that’s all that matters.”

Their best needs to propel them through low temperatures, predicted to fall in the mid-40s, as well as a potential rain shower. Braden has no doubt that his team is up to the task.

“Ninety percent of the places we go, it’s not going to be like Southern California,” Braden said. “During a race, you never know what’s going to happen, and we have to be ready for anything. So they better be ready, and I know they will be.”

Top women runners, Murakami and sophomore Katja Goldring, are expected to run right at the front of the pack, while the rest of the women are expected to close the gap and make up the difference.

The men, on the other hand, have set a goal to win the meet as a team. Runners Marco Anzures, Crabill, Jake Matthews and Marlon Patterson all have the capability to stay in contention or possibly grab the individual crown.

With the pre-NCAA Invitational and Nationals being held in Indiana, the Bruins will undoubtedly get a preview of what is to come.

“It’s the start of the real season,” Braden said. “This is kind of a precursor. If we race well here, it puts us in a good position come pre-nationals, Pac-10s and regionals. We’re looking to set the tone Friday.”

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