Junior Kurt Benninger has finished fifth or better in all three of his races this season, and will lead the fifth-ranked Notre Dame men into Saturday's NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

Both Irish Cross Country Teams Finish Second At Pre-National Meet

Oct. 15, 2005

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – For the second consecutive year, both the Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams finished second at the Pre-National Meet, which was contested Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The seventh-ranked Irish men finished second with 96 points behind only No. 3 Colorado (the defending NCAA champion), which had 70 points to claim the 34-team 8K White Division race. Meanwhile, the No. 8 Notre Dame women took runner-up honors with 147 points behind third-ranked Stanford’s 86 points in the 35-team 6K Blue Division race.

The Pre-Nationals were contested on the same course that will play host to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 21. Historically, the Pre-Nationals have served as one of the better indicators of which teams will be contenders for the national title at season’s end. It also is among the largest regular-season meets of the year, with 73 men’s teams (22 ranked) and 77 women’s teams (23 ranked) having run in this year’s event. With the large number of participants, both the men’s and women’s race were divided into two divisions with the elite-level teams split evenly between the two races.

On the men’s side, four Irish runners placed among the top 30 for the second time in as many years. Junior Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.) was the leading Notre Dame competitor, coming in fourth (23:49) while posting both his best finish and best time ever at the Pre-Nationals. Fifth-year senior Sean O’Donnell (Kansas City, Mo./Rockhurst) also cracked the top-10, taking eighth place in 23:55, an impressive step up after he had not placed higher than 50th in three previous trips to the Pre-Nationals.

Senior Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi) was the third Irish finisher, earning 14th-place honors in 24:05. Moore, an All-American last season, has now placed in the top 15 at the past three Pre-National races. Senior Kaleb Van Ort (Waterloo, Ind./DeKalb), who was making his season debut after missing time with an injury, ran well and crossed the line in 28th place (24:25). Freshman Patrick Smyth (Salt Lake City, Utah/Judge Memorial) was the fifth Irish scorer, hitting the tape in 24:35 to finish 41st overall.

Junior Todd Ptacek (Benton Harbor, Mich./Lake Michigan Catholic) ran in the Pre-Nationals for the first time, placing 57th in 24:45. Sophomore Dan Curran (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) rounded out the Notre Dame lineup 78th place with a time of 24:58.

The Notre Dame women also had four top-30 finishers for the second year in a row. Senior All-American Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) was the team’s top finisher for the second consecutive meet, placing sixth in a time of 20:18, earning her best finish in four trips to the Pre-Nationals. Freshman Ramsey Kavan (Yankton, S.D./Yankton) was next with her second top-15 placement in as many college races, taking 15th in 20:38. Senior All-American Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame) was 20th overall in 20:43, while sophomore All-American Sunni Olding (Minster, Ohio/Minster) came in 30th in 20:58.

Senior Jean Marinangeli (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) closed out the Irish scoring in 76th place (21:44). Senior Elizabeth Webster (Dearborn, Mich./Divine Child) finished 144th in a time of 22:28, and junior Katie DeRusso (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport) was the final Notre Dame runner across the line in 165th place (22:49).

The Notre Dame cross country teams next will race on Friday, Oct. 28, when they head to Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y., for the 2005 BIG EAST Conference Championships. The Irish men are the defending champions, having edged out Georgetown by one point last year. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame women will be looking to regain the crown they held in 2002 and 2003 after finishing second to Providence last season.

— ND —