Nov. 12, 2003
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams return to the site of the 2002 NCAA Championship this weekend to participate in the 2003 Great Lakes Regional Championship at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
The men’s 10,000-meter race begins on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 11:00 a.m., followed by the women’s 6,000-meter competition at 12:15 p.m.
The Irish women return to the same course in which the team produced its highest-ever national finish – third overall – last season. The Notre Dame women also claimed its first regional title last season in West Lafayette, Ind.
The men’s team will face a strong test from several of the nation’s top teams. A top-two finish guarantees a spot in the NCAA Championship, while a top-five effort would put the men in strong consideration for an at-large selection to the national meet.
Great Lakes Region the toughest in the nation:
Both Irish teams will be up against stiff competition this weekend at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. Just a quick glance at the MONDO and FinishLynx national rankings show nine ranked men’s teams from the region with seven ranked women’s teams – the most by each respective region. The men’s West Region holds eight ranked teams, while the women’s Mountain, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions hold five ranked teams.
The Irish women enter their race at the favorite, ranked fourth in the nation coming off their BIG EAST Championship victory on Oct. 31. Coach Tim Connelly’s team is looking to make history once again this season after earning the team’s first regional title last season. A win on Saturday would provide the first back-to-back regional titles in Notre Dame cross country history.
The men’s team is fully capable of posting an automatic-qualifying team effort as well, though they face an uphill challenge with #2 Wisconsin, #6 Michigan, #11 Indiana and #13 Ohio State looming above the #18 Irish in the national polls. Coach Joe Piane’s team ran very well at the BIG EAST Championship on Oct. 31, however, surprising many of their conference competitors with a second-place effort. The Irish men clearly have their sights set on a top-five finish Saturday.
Prospective field for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional:
Here is a list of all the team eligible to compete this weekend and any national rankings associated with the team (not all of the teams allowed to compete will enter the meet).
WOMEN: Akron, #29 Ball State, Bowling Green, Butler, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Dayton, Detroit-Mercy, Eastern Michigan, Evansville, Indiana State, Indiana, IPFW, IUPUI, Kent State, #19 Marquette, Miami (Ohio), #7 Michigan, #12 Michigan State, #4 NOTRE DAME, Oakland, Ohio State, Ohio, Purdue, #36 Toledo, Valparaiso, Western Michigan, Wisconsin-Green Bay, #31 Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wright State, Xavier and Youngstown State.
MEN: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, #35 Butler, #22 Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Dayton, Detroit-Mercy, #28 Eastern Michigan, Evansville, Indiana State, #11 Indiana, IPFW, IUPUI, Kent State, Marquette, #31 Miami (Ohio), #6 Michigan, Michigan State, #18 NOTRE DAME, Oakland, #13 Ohio State, Ohio, Purdue, Toledo, Valparaiso, Western Michigan, Wisconsin-Green Bay, #2 Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wright State, Xavier and Youngstown State.
Snapshot of the Irish:
WOMEN: Notre Dame has remained among the top five in the nation for the entire season. The Irish have welcomed back six of its seven runners from a third-place NCAA finisher a year ago and have claimed meet titles four times this season. Led by a stellar duo of sophomore Molly Huddle and junior Lauren King (both All-Americans a year ago), Notre Dame is the team to beat in the Great Lakes Regional meet on Saturday. Though Huddle and King have somewhat stolen the headlines this year, junior Kerry Meagher and senior Megan Johnson have their own story lines.
Meagher has improved tremendously after seeing limited cross country action the last two seasons. She finished second on the team at the BIG EAST Championship to earn all-conference honors and won the National Catholic individual title earlier this season. Johnson was forced to be a spectator last season during the championship portion of the schedule due to an illness, but has returned in fine form this season. She has steadily improved in each race and finished 16th at the BIG EAST Championship – just one spot away from all-conference honors.
MEN: The Irish have enjoyed another solid season under legendary cross country coach Joe Piane. All-American Tim Moore has returned to lead the team this season, as former All-American Todd Mobley gets his cross country feet under him (Mobley toughed through a leg injury for the championship meets last fall and missed the ’03 track and field season). Moore has embraced his role and become a strong candidate for back-to-back All-America certificates. Mobley finished seventh at the BIG EAST Championship on Oct. 31.
Notre Dame claimed team titles at the National Catholic and Notre Dame Invitational and finished second at the BIG EAST Championship. Sophomore Kaleb Van Ort and freshman Kurt Benninger have given the team some talented depth this season.
Notre Dame lineups this weekend:
So. Molly Huddle – Finishes: 1st (Notre Dame Invite), 10th (Pre-National), 3rd (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history: 2002 – 2nd
Jr. Lauren King – Finishes: 2nd (Notre Dame Invite), 19th (Pre-National), 14th (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history: 2001 – 2nd, 2002 – 3rd
Jr. Kerry Meagher – Finishes: 1st (National Catholic), 7th (Notre Dame Invitational), 12th (Pre-National), 6th (BIG EAST Championship)
Sr. Megan Johnson – Finishes: 21st (Notre Dame Invite), 29th (Pre-National), 16th (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history: 2000 – 106th, 2001 – 20th
So. Stephanie Madia – Finishes: 57th (Pre-National), 20th (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history: 2002 – 27th
So. Jean Marinangeli – Finishes: 1st (Valparaiso Invite), 4th (National Catholic), 42nd (Notre Dame Invite), 87th (Pre-National), 42nd (BIG EAST Championship)
Sr. Katie Wales – Finishes: 7th (National Catholic), 49th (Notre Dame Invitational), 115th (Pre-National), 39th (BIG EAST Championship)
Alternate – Elizabeth Webster – Finishes: 4th (Valparaiso Invite), 3rd (National Catholic), 55th (Notre Dame Invite), 41st (Pre-National Open)
So. Tim Moore – Finishes: 3rd (Notre Dame Invite), 15th (Pre-National), 6th (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history: 2002- 14th
Sr. Todd Mobley – Finishes: 15th (Notre Dame Invite), 63rd (Pre-National), 7th (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history : 2000 – 24th, 2001 – 8th, 2002 – 26th
So. Kaleb Van Ort – Finishes: 2nd (National Catholic), 26th (Notre Dame Invite), 52nd (Pre-National), 12th (BIG EAST Championship)
Jr. Sean O’Donnell – Finishes: 3rd (National Catholic), 20th (Notre Dame Invite), 58th (Pre-National), 20th (BIG EAST Championship)
Fr. Kurt Benninger – Finishes: 12th (Notre Dame Invite), 88th (Pre-National), 21st (BIG EAST Championship)
Sr. David Alber – Finishes: 29th (National Catholic), 11th (Notre Dame Invite Gold), 145th (Pre-National), 26th (BIG EAST Championship) Regional meet history: 2001 – 26th, 2002 – 42nd
Sr. Brian Kerwin – Finishes: 2nd (Valparaiso Invite), 7th (National Catholic), 36th (Notre Dame Invite), 188th (Pre-National) Regional meet history: 2001 – 97th, 2002 – 72nd
Alternate — Ryan Johnson – Finishes: 6th (National Catholic), 46th (Notre Dame Invite), 15th (Pre-National Open) Regional meet history: 2002 – 54th
More meet information:
The race site is the Lavern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The course is a rolling and challenging surface. Once again, the races are set for men at 11:00 a.m. and women at 12:15 p.m. Results will be available at www.ncaasports.com and web.indstate.edu/athletic/cross approximately 30 minutes after the race. Keep an eye on www.und.com for complete recaps and results from both races.
The top two teams and top four individuals not on those two teams will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship. On Monday, Nov. 17, the NCAA Division I Cross Country Committee will select 13 at large teams and two at large individuals from the NCAA’s nine regions. Thirty-one teams and 38 individuals will qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships.