Cross country heads west for Nationals prep

Leslie Combs

Both the men’s and women’s cross country squads are traveling to the Midwest to compete in the 2002 Indiana State University Invitational Saturday.

The trip to Terre Haute, Ind., is primarily to get a feel for the course that Nationals will be run on later this November.

Traditionally, the Wildcats check out the National course during the Pre-National Meet held later in the fall, but the increased popularity of the tourney has drawn teams from across the country, turning it into more of a spectacle than a meet.

“[Pre-Nationals] has basically become a dress rehearsal for Nationals, and we want to avoid that situation,” men’s head coach Marcus O’Sullivan explained. “The goal this weekend is mainly to take a look at the course and have another race under our belt.”

The men will not be running the entire varsity squad this weekend, with top runners senior Adrian Blincoe and junior Ryan Hayden remaining away from competition until later this fall. After winning at Haverford two weeks ago, senior Jason Jabaut will also not race tomorrow.

Instead, the men will be led by seniors Jon Fasulo and Tom Parlapiano, with freshman Milos Mitric, sophomore Tom Falvey and junior Patt Dunn following close behind. Other ‘Nova men who are vying for the top-nine conference spots are freshmen Marc Pelerin, Andrew Cameron and Michael Botti. O’Sullivan stressed that while the men are running Saturday for more technical and tactical reasons, even with some of the top ‘Cats absent, the men are still expected to finish high. Colorado State and Alabama promise the most competition in the 8K race.

On the women’s team, sophomores Ioana Parusheva and Kailin Toedebusch will be leading the Wildcats. Parusheva ran to an impressive victory earlier this season at Haverford, while Toedebusch will make her 2002 debut Saturday. Freshman Marina Munkin will continue her promising rookie season alongside classmates Elizabeth Gesel and Bridget Akard. Junior Carrie Joyce and sophomore Kirsty Smith will also add depth to the women this weekend, while junior Rebecca Mitchell will sit out to recover from an illness.

For both ‘Nova teams, the invitational marks the first meet this season against top competition.

“We really just want to get started and see where we are,” women’s head coach Gina Procaccio said. “It is our first big meet where all of us as a group are going to run against top-ranked teams.”

Boston College and Arkansas look to be the teams Villanova must run with if they want to finish in the top three as hoped in the 6K race.

The women take to the line at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, with the men lining up at 11:15 a.m.