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Cross Country's Tim Connelly And Molly Huddle Earn Regional Honors

Nov. 21, 2003

Notre Dame women’s head cross country coach Tim Connelly was named the Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year and sophomore Molly Huddle nabbed the Runner of the Year trophy by vote of the region’s coaches. The awards, announced on Friday, Nov. 21, come after the Irish won the Great Lakes Region for the second consecutive season on Nov. 15, besting Michigan by 15 points.

Huddle, who finished sixth at the NCAA Championship last season as a rookie, claimed the individual title at the regional meet finishing the course in 20:14.7. She led a Notre Dame contingent that landed all five of its scoring runners inn the top 15. Huddle was undefeated against all Great Lakes Region competitors during the 2003 season.

Connelly has developed a deep and talented roster this season, replacing injured Loryn King (out most of the season after running on the third-place NCAA team last year) with Kerry Meagher. Somewhat of a surprise in cross country this season, Meagher had been an 800-meter specialist during the track and field schedule, but has established herself among the top three cross country harriers on the team.

In addition to Huddle and Meagher, Megan Johnson and Stephanie Madia also earned all-regional honors.

Irish women in the running for NCAA Championship:

After surprising the cross country nation with a third-place effort at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championship, the University of Notre Dame women’s cross country team enters the ’03 championship field as a team to watch. Head coach Tim Connelly brings back five runners from last year’s team (Molly Huddle, Lauren King, Stephanie Madia, Jean Marinangeli, Katie Wales), along with a returning veteran (Megan Johnson) and upstart junior (Kerry Meagher) looking to improve on last season’s team effort.

The Irish have spent the entire 2003 season ranked among the top five in the country and have claimed team titles at the Valparaiso Invitational, National Catholic, Notre Dame Invitational, BIG EAST Championship and NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The BIG EAST and Great Lakes wins were the second in a row for the team, which Connelly is quickly developing into a national power (only Wales will not return next season).

Irish line up for the NCAA Championship:

Notre Dame will enter the same seven runners from the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet into Monday’s race – Molly Huddle (So., Elmira, N.Y.), Megan Johnson (Sr., Seattle, Wa.), Lauren King (Jr., Toronto, Ontario), Stephanie Madia (So., Wexford, Pa.), Jean Marinangeli (Arlington Heights, Ill.), Kerry Meagher (Jr., Allentown, Pa.), Katie Wales (Sr., Carmel, Ind.) with Elizabeth Webster (Dearborn, Mich.) as the alternate.

Here is a look at how the Irish line up has competed this season.

Molly Huddle: 1st (Notre Dame Invitational), 10th (Pre-National Purple), 3rd (BIG EAST Championship), 1st (Great Lakes Regional)

Huddle is putting herself in position to win the NCAA individual title at some point in her collegiate career. After a dominating freshman season in which she secured three All-America certificates (cross country, indoor 3,000 meters, outdoor 5,000 meters) and won the U.S. Junior 3,000-meter championship in record-setting time, she has not looked back in 2003. The Elmira, N.Y., native has her eyes set on besting JoAnna Deeter’s all-time best finish for the Irish women at the NCAA meet (third, 1996).

NCAA Championship results: sixth in 2002

Megan Johnson: 21st (Notre Dame Invitational), 29th (Pre-National Purple), 16th (BIG EAST Championship), 12th (Great Lakes Regional)

Johnson has been a key member of Notre Dame’s cross country team since she won the National Catholic individual title as a freshman in 2000. An injury suffered late last season kept Johnson off the NCAA Championship roster, but the all-BIG EAST (2001) runner has the ability to finish strong at the NCAA meet. She has steadily improved this season, finishing a personal-best 12th at the regional meet.

NCAA Championship results: 130th in 2001

Lauren King: 2nd (Notre Dame Invitational), 19th (Pre-National Purple), 14th (BIG EAST Championship), 7th (Great Lakes Regional)

King has been a constant since she stepped on Notre Dame’s campus three years ago, finishing no lower than 27th in 14 career races. She boasts two All-America efforts in cross country (19th in ’02, 27th in ’01) and her strong effort at the regional meet last weekend puts her on track for unprecedented third-consecutive cross country All-American season.

NCAA Championship results: 19th in 2002, 27th in 2001

Stephanie Madia: 57th (Pre-National Purple), 20th (BIG EAST Championship), 15th (Great Lakes Regional)

Madia spent much of the early season recovering from an injury and looks to be regaining her top form just in time for the NCAA Championship. She finished 15th at the Great Lakes Regional, earning all-region honors for the first time in her career. She finished 78th at the NCAA meet last season as a freshman.

NCAA Championship results: 78th in 2002

Jean Marinangeli: 1st (Valparaiso Invitational), 4th (National Catholic), 42nd (Notre Dame Invitational), 87th (Pre-National Purple), 42nd (BIG EAST Championship), 63rd (Great Lakes Regional)

Marinangeli is one off the few runners on the Irish roster to appear in each meet this season. Her effort on Monday will be key to Notre Dame’s team title aspirations. She finished 56th at the BIG EAST meet last season and improved that position 14 spots in 2003.

Kerry Meagher: 1st (National Catholic), 7th (Notre Dame Invitational), 12th (Pre-National Purple), 6th (BIG EAST Championship), 8th (Great Lakes Regional)

Meagher has almost come out of nowhere to form herself into one of the top runners in the region. After competing in just three cross country meets last season, Meagher has been among the top three on the Irish team for the entire 2003 campaign. Her National Catholic individual title this season follows up her JV race win from the same meet in 2001. A product of hard work and determination, Meagher has finished no lower than 12th in five races this season.

Katie Wales: 7th (National Catholic), 49th (Notre Dame Invitational), 115th (Pre-National Purple), 39th (BIG EAST Championship), 56th (Great Lakes Regional)

Wales, the lone senior on the travel roster, missed out on her first two seasons at Notre Dame due to an injury. Last year, she was a member of the third-place NCAA team and has finished in the top 50 at the BIG EAST Championship two consecutive seasons.

NCAA Championship results: 225th in 2002

Elizabeth Webster: 4th (Valparaiso Invitational), 3rd (National Catholic), 55th (Notre Dame Invitational), 41st (Pre-National Open), DNP (BIG EAST Championship)

Webster is ready to step in and contribute should one of Notre Dame’s runner be unable to compete on Monday. Her strong start to the season proved that she can run with the best in the country when needed. Webster qualified for the NCAA regional track and field meet last season in the 1,500 meters.

Notre Dame women’s team NCAA Championship history (top finisher):

1993: 15th, 331 pts. (Sarah Riley, 33rd)

1994: NTS (Maureen Kelly, 53rd)

1996: NTS (JoAnna Deeter, 3rd)

1998: NTS (JoAnna Deeter, 14th)

1999: 29th (Alison Klemmer, 73rd)

2001: 19th (Lauren King, 27th)

2002: 3rd (Molly Huddle, 6th)

The Irish are making their fifth team appearance in the championship since 1993, and are competing for the fourth-consecutive season as a group.

Irish men send two individual runners:

The University of Notre Dame men’s team will be represented by two individual runners in Monday’s race; senior Todd Mobley and sophomore Tim Moore.

Todd Mobley (Sr., West Bloomfield, Mich.) – Mobley is looking for his second All-America certificate after finishing 38th in 2001. He was on his way to that feat last season before an injury affected his postseason race performances (finished 80th at the NCAA meet). This will be Mobley’s fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, finishing 99th in 2000, 38th in 2001 and 80th in 2002.

Mobley’s finishes this season: 15th (Notre Dame Invitational), 63rd (Pre-National), 7th (BIG EAST Championship), 7th (Great Lakes Regional)

Tim Moore (So., Novi, Mich.) – Moore was the top finisher on the Irish squad last season, finishing 63rd. He is looking to nab his first career All-America honor in Monday’s race.

Moore’s finishes this season: 3rd (Notre Dame Invitational), 15th (Pre-National), 6th (BIG EAST Championship), 15th (Great Lakes Regional)

Moore and Mobley’s appearance on Monday mark the 14th-straight season the Notre Dame men have had a presence at the NCAA Championship.