Senior All-Americans Stephanie Madia (left) and Molly Huddle (right) finished 2-3 at Saturday's NCAA Great Lakes Regional, pacing the fourth-ranked Irish to a second-place finish and automatic berth in the NCAA Championships on Nov. 21.

Both Irish Cross Country Teams Finish Second At NCAA Great Lakes Regional

Nov. 12, 2005

Complete Results

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The nationally-ranked Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams punched their respective tickets to the NCAA Championships with matching second-place finishes at the 2005 NCAA Great Lakes Regional, which was run Saturday on the Indiana University Cross Country Course in Bloomington, Ind. By virtue of their runner-up placements, both the No. 4 Irish women and No. 5 Notre Dame men automatically qualified for the NCAA Championship meet that will take place in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 21. It was the 10th top-two regional finish (four titles, six runner-up) for the Notre Dame men’s team, while the Irish women’s squad claimed its sixth top-two result at the Great Lakes Regional (two titles, four runner-up).

“We accomplished what we set out to do when we came to the regional,” Notre Dame head men’s cross country coach Joe Piane said. “We wanted to earn an automatic spot in the NCAA Championships and we did that. We have given ourselves a chance to compete for the national title, and that’s all we can ask at this point.”

“Any time you run in a meet, you want to win, but we’re certainly pleased to have qualified for nationals,” Irish head women’s cross country coach Tim Connelly noted. “We have just over a week to get ready for the NCAAs and we will take full advantage of that time to prepare and put forth our best effort to go after that national championship.”

The men’s 10,000-meter race was the first to be held at this year’s Great Lakes Regional, and Notre Dame turned in a superb performance, scoring 58 points to finish a close second to top-ranked and defending regional champion Wisconsin (49 points). The Irish saw all five of their scoring runners place among the top 20 in the field, including four in the top 15. Junior Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.) led the Notre Dame contingent with a second-place finish (31:06.5) in the 195-man field, trailing only Ohio State’s Brian Olinger (30:51.5). It was Benninger’s fourth top-five finish in as many races this season, and it also improved one place on his standing at last year’s Great Lakes Regional.

Behind Benninger, the Irish ran smartly and had a trio of runners cross the line almost simultaneously. Fifth-year senior Sean O’Donnell (Kansas City, Mo./Rockhurst) was credited with an 11th-place finish in 31:26.4, hitting the tape a mere two-tenths of a second before classmates Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi) and Kaleb Van Ort (Waterloo, Ind./DeKalb). Moore earned 12th-place honors, while Van Ort was slotted in 13th place. Freshman Patrick Smyth (Salt Lake City, Utah/Judge Memorial) ran well in his first regional meet, finishing 20th overall in 31:45.0. Senior A.J. Andrassy (Bay Village, Ohio/St. Ignatius) ended up in 49th place at 32:39.7.

In the women’s 6,000-meter regional race, Notre Dame continued to display dominance at the top of its lineup, as four Irish runners finished among the top 10 in the 220-runner event. Through those four runners, Notre Dame held an 11-point lead over third-ranked Michigan, but the Wolverines’ fifth scorer wound up placing 27 spots ahead of the final Irish runner, allowing UM to defend its regional title with a 52-68 victory over Notre Dame.

Senior All-American Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) finished second overall in 21:00.8, ending up behind Butler’s Victoria Mitchell (20:37.0), but still marking Madia’s fourth top-six placement (and third top-three showing) in four races this season. Hot on her heels was fellow senior All-American Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame), who returned to the Great Lakes Regional after a one-year absence to injury and took third-place honors in 21:04.5. Sophomore All-American Sunni Olding (Minster, Ohio/Minster) came home in seventh place (21:18.6), and freshman Ramsey Kavan (Yankton, S.D./Yankton) completed the powerful Notre Dame quartet with a 10th-place finish in her regional debut (21:29.1), ranking as the fastest rookie at the meet.

In the four meets that Notre Dame’s top quartet (Madia, Huddle, Olding and Kavan) has raced together in this season, they all have finished in the top 30 in each event, including three races where the Irish version of the “Fearsome Foursome” all placed in the top 11 in the field (Notre Dame Invitational, BIG EAST Championship, Great Lakes Regional).

Notre Dame’s fifth scoring runner at Saturday’s regional was senior Elizabeth Webster (Dearborn, Mich./Divine Child), who placed 46th overall (22:32.5) in her first-ever Great Lakes meet appearance. Senior Jean Marinangeli (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) crossed the line shortly thereafter in 50th place (22:37.8), and junior Katie DeRusso (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport) rounded out the Irish efforts with a 90th-place outing in 23:19.5.

Notre Dame’s cross country teams will close out their 2005 seasons on Monday, Nov. 21, when they venture to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Championships, which will be run on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The Irish men, who are slated to run in the NCAA team finals for the 42nd time in program history, have finished in the top 10 at the national meet 32 times since 1938, including 11 “podium” (top-four) finishes and the 1957 NCAA title. Since Piane took over the reins at Notre Dame 31 seasons ago, the Irish have had 10 top-10 placements, highlighted by a third-place showing in 1990.

Meanwhile, the Notre Dame women will be making their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships and the seventh in program history. The Irish have placed in the top 10 each of the past three years, including “podium” finishes in both 2002 (third) and 2004 (fourth). Ironically, Notre Dame’s top individual finisher in both of those top-four seasons is still on the Irish roster — Huddle was sixth overall in 2002, while Madia was 23rd last season — and both of those peak performances occurred on the same LaVern Gibson Championship Course that will host this year’s NCAA finals.

— ND —

NCAA Great Lakes Regional
Nov. 12, 2005
Bloomington, Ind. • Indiana University Cross Country Course

MEN (10,000 meters — top two teams earn automatic qualification to NCAA Championships)
Team standings (top 10 of 30):
1. Wisconsin 49; 2. NOTRE DAME 58; 3. Ohio State 119; 4. Butler 150; 5. Eastern Michigan 162; 6. Indiana 172; 7. Michigan State 203; 8. Michigan 209; 9. Indiana State 227; 10. Miami (Ohio) 280.

Individual standings (top 5 plus Notre Dame finishers of 195): 1. Brian Olinger (Ohio State) 30:51.5; 2. Kurt Benninger (NOTRE DAME) 31:06.5; 3. Sean Jefferson (Indiana) 31:07.9; 4. Michael Woods (Michigan) 31.11.7; 5. Daniel Huling (Miami-Ohio) 31:13.6; 11. Sean O’Donnell (NOTRE DAME) 31:26.4; 12. Tim Moore (NOTRE DAME) 31:26.6; 13. Kaleb Van Ort (NOTRE DAME) 31:26.6; 20. Patrick Smyth (NOTRE DAME) 31:45.0; 49. A.J. Andrassy (NOTRE DAME) 32:39.7.

WOMEN (6,000 meters — top two teams earn automatic qualification to NCAA Championships)
Team standings (top 10 of 32):
1. Michigan 52; 2. NOTRE DAME 68; 3. Wisconsin 142; 4. Butler 174; 5. Michigan State 182; 6. Marquette 208; 7. Indiana 219; 8. Toledo 230; 9. Purdue 234; 10. Ohio 291.

Individual standings (top 5 plus Notre Dame finishers of 220): 1. Victoria Mitchell (Butler) 20:37.0; 2. Stephanie Madia (NOTRE DAME) 21:00.8; 3. Molly Huddle (NOTRE DAME) 21:04.5; 4. Alyson Kohlmeier (Michigan) 21:07.0; 5. Jessica Gall (Indiana) 21:16.9; 7. Sunni Olding (NOTRE DAME) 21:18.6; 10. Ramsey Kavan (NOTRE DAME) 21:29.1; 46. Elizabeth Webster (NOTRE DAME) 22:32.5; 50. Jean Marinangeli (NOTRE DAME) 22:37.8; 90. Katie DeRusso (NOTRE DAME) 23:19.5.