Nov. 10, 2001
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams have been setting and reaching various goals throughout the 2001 season. That trend continued once again at the 2001 Great Lakes Regional Championship in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday. Both teams entered the meet in position to earn bids to the NCAA Championship on Monday, Nov. 19, in Greenville, SC, and both squads took advantage by capturing automatic spots in the NCAA meet with two impressive finishes.
The men’s team, fresh off a BIG EAST Championship won on Oct. 26, won the regional title on the strength of five stellar efforts. Senior All-American and defending Great Lakes Regional champion Luke Watson led the way, taking third place in 30:37.3. Watson was followed closely by sophomore Todd Mobley in sixth and senior Marc Striowski in 10th. Senior Sean Zanderson and sophomore David Alber rounded out the Irish scoring runners in 24th and 26th place, respectively.
It was just the kind of effort the fifth-ranked Irish needed with Pat Conway and Ryan Shay, two of its top runners, unable to compete. Notre Dame’s point total of 71 put them ahead of Michigan in second place with 82 points, Michigan State in third with 86 and #4 Wisconsin in fourth with 97. The Great Lakes Regional team title is the fourth the Irish have earned since the meet began in 1972 and the first since 1996. Notre Dame has now finished in the top five at the regional meet in 11 out of the last 12 years.
The men’s team effort will now focus on a top finish at the NCAA meet. Shay should be ready to run after recovering from an Achilles tendon problem and Conway, who has struggled with a chest cold throughout the season, will be ready to return to the field as well.
The second-place effort from the women’s team is a sign of the full potential of head coach Tim Connelly’s squad. Freshman Lauren King was the top team finisher in second place overall, just two seconds behind individual champion Bethany Brewster from Wisconsin. King was the only rookie runner in the top 10.
Sophomore Megan Johnson ran a great race, finishing second on the team in 20th. Junior Jen Handley was right there with her teammate at 22nd, followed by Jennifer Fibuch in 33rd and freshman Christi Arnerich in 47th. The 19th-ranked Irish posted a point total of 124, behind #6 Michigan State (58), but just ahead of #18 Marquette (128).
The second-place finish in the regional race assures the women’s team its fifth trip to the NCAA meet and third in the last four years. The runner-up position matches the best finish the Irish have ever earned in the regional meet, equaling the second-place effort of the 1993 team.