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    Illini Ready for Notre Dame Invitational
    Graham Morris will make his Illini cross country debut at the Notre Dame Invitational.

    Graham Morris will make his Illini cross country debut at the Notre Dame Invitational.

    Oct. 3, 2013

    PreviewGet Acrobat Reader | Coach Stewart Interview

    Notre Dame Invitational
    Friday, Oct. 4 (4:00 p.m. CT) - 5 Mile Race
    Notre Dame Golf Course // South Bend, Ind.

    Meet Preview
    After three weeks off, the Fighting Illini men's cross country team will be back in action this Friday, Oct. 4 for the Notre Dame Invitational. The 5 mile race will take place in South Bend, Ind. at the Notre Dame Golf Course at 4:00 p.m. CT.

    Coach Stewart on the Meet
    "I think there's a big sense of anxiousness with the group in terms of getting into the race itself," said Stewart. "We're certainly prepared to race and we're looking forward to it. We've had essentially seven weeks with a couple of real low-key meets in there, so getting into the month of October and what we would consider the `racing season' is exciting for us."

    "It's flat and fast," Stewart said of the course. "I think we have a number of guys on the team who will run the course well. I think we're going to compete to the best of our ability. I think we're going to have a better day than we did last year. Going into the meet last year, it was their first time being in a race like that, and that was an adjustment for everyone. They know what to expect now, they have a year behind them and they've run in some big races, so I expect us to have a good day. It's inter-regional, so there's not just teams from the Midwest. It will be fun seeing teams from all over that are very good and want to run well."

    Illini Set to Run
    Nine Illini will be competing in the Notre Dame Invitational, with Graham Morris set to make his Illini cross country debut after redshirting last season. Illini Challenge champion Jannis Toepfer will compete in his second meet of the season, while Brendan McDonnell looks to carry over his success from the Boilermaker Invitational. Ian Barnett, Will Brewster, Luke Carroll, Tommy King, Liam Markham, Sam Telfer, and Paul Zeman will represent the Orange and Blue for the second time this season.

    A Look at the Competition
    Illinois faces its toughest competition of the season this weekend, with nine nationally ranked teams traveling to the home course of No. 22 Notre Dame, including No. 7 Tulsa, No. 9 Princeton, No. 16 Colorado State, No. 17 Eastern Kentucky, No. 21 New Mexico, No. 24 Virginia, No. 26 Florida State and No. 30 Columbia. The Illini will also face Big Ten opponents No. 29 Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Purdue.

    Last Time Out
    On Sept. 13, the Orange and Blue traveled to West Lafayette Ind., the site of the 2013 Big Ten Championships, to compete in the Boilermaker Invitational. The Illini faced Big Ten competition for the first time this season, and finished fourth with 76 points. Newcomer Brendan McDonnell led the squad in his varsity debut, finishing ninth overall with a time of 25:12. Sam Telfer (25:23) and Paul Zeman (25:24) finished next for the Illini, placing 13th and 14th, respectively. Will Brewster and Luke Carroll made their Illini cross country debuts, with Brewster clocking a 25:28 to finish 16th, while Carroll placed 25th with a time of 25:52. Jereme Atchison crossed the finish line with a time of 26:11, while Ryan Burgoon (26:31) and Jon Vaccaro (27:09) gained valuable experience in their second collegiate meet.

    Three freshmen ran unattached in the meet, with Garrett Lee finishing 28th overall with a time of 26:07. Alex Gold (26:11) placed 31st, with Joe Cowlin (26:14) finishing closely behind.

    Up Next
    In two weeks, the team will split up for the Bradley Classic on Oct. 18 and the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 19.

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