Racing conditions were not ideal. Intermittent rain showers, steady winds, and cold temperatures made for an uncomfortable setting. Furthermore half the course was extremely muddy causing the times to look unimpressive. This is why times are overrated in cross-country. There are too many external factors that can affect performance.
Despite an underwhelming performance from senior Matt Withrow, the Wisconsin men were able to cruise to victory on a course whose challenging terrain was overshadowed by the terrible conditions. According to head coach Mick Byrne, the Badgers decided to run conservatively and let the leaders go. This strategy worked well as four Badger runners finished consecutively in the top seven to pace the team to victory.
Patrick Smyth of Notre Dame out-dueled Andy Baker of Butler for the victory. Baker was somewhat of a long-shot to finish in the top five coming into the race but he was clearly focused and gave Smyth all he could handle for most of the race. At about 8k Smyth made his move and put Baker away.
The surprise of the day came courtesy of the Butler Bulldogs who finished in third place. If you would have told me they would beat Notre Dame I wouldn't believe it. I still don't believe it. Notre Dame might be a little worried on their standing as the at-large bids are handed out for Nationals in the next couple of days.*
In the end it was an enjoyable experience. Even with the cold and wind I had a good time. I even ran the course after the race was over causing me to be covered in mud. I had a good time and judging by the crowd there today they enjoyed it too.
*Only the top two finishing teams from each of the 9 regions are guaranteed a spot at Nationals. The remaining thirteen spots are decided on by a committee and given to teams based on their performance throughout the season.