Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Climb The Polls As They Prepare To Host The National Catholic Championship

Sept. 18, 2002


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The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams return to action this weekend during the 23rd running of the National Catholic Cross Country Championships at Burke Memorial Golf Course on campus. The meet is set for Friday, Sept. 20, with the women’s race at 4:15 p.m. and the men set for 5 p.m.

The Notre Dame men’s team has captured the last seven team titles at the National Catholic and an Irish harrier has finished first the last eight seasons. On the women’s side, Notre Dame has won six of the last seven team titles, while an Irish female runner has won the last seven individual titles (including current Irish runners Jen Handley and Megan Johnson).

Irish move up in the polls after impressive adidas Invitational performances: The adidas Invitational, run on Sept. 6, 2002, at the Burke Memorial Golf Course, ended up as one of the earliest meets the Notre Dame cross country teams have ever hosted. The early meet turned into a positive step for both teams, as the Irish women defeated three ranked teams to grab the team title, while the men ended up in second place.

After the dust settled, the women’s team, which entered the adidas Invitational ranked 10th, moved up to fifth in the latest FinishLynx poll. NC State, which competed in the adidas Invite, is sixth and Arizona State, which was also in the field, is 19th. The #5 ranking for the women’s team is the highest-ever for head coach Tim Connelly’s team.

The men’s team finished second in a race featuring NC State, Arizona State and Tennessee. NC State ended up taking the team title, but the Irish finished in second place and moved up to 20th (from 25th) in the latest MONDO poll.

adidas Invitational recap: The women’s team ran as a pack at the adidas Invitational two weeks ago, helping the Irish secure the team title. All-American Lauren King led the way, finishing second in 17:24. Not far behind King was a large group of Irish runners led by Jen Handley (sixth), Katie Wales (seventh), Megan Johnson (eighth) and Jen Fibuch (ninth).

The men’s team was led by a veteran runner and a talented rookie. All-American Todd Mobley was at the front of the lead pack for much of the race, then pulled away to finish ahead of teammate and freshman Tim Moore. Moore, the 2001 Footlocker National Champion, ran extremely well in his first collegiate meet, cruising in behind Mobley to take second.

Fellow rookie Kaleb Van Ort was not far behind Moore, coming across the finish line in eighth place to end up in the top 10 at his first collegiate meet. John Keane and David Alber (15th and 16th, respectively), with Kevin Somok and Brian Kerwin (21st and 22nd) finished up running together to round out the top seven for the Irish in the adidas Invitational.

Lineups for the National Catholic Meet: Looking ahead to the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 6, women’s head coach Tim Connelly will not enter a number of his top runners this weekend. Lauren King, Jen Handley, Jen Fibuch and freshman Molly Huddle are among the Irish harriers who will not see action on Friday afternoon. The deep, talented women’s roster will keep the Irish in contention for the team title.

On the men’s side, Joe Piane will continue to develop the chemistry on his young team by running the top seven finishers from the adidas Invitational. Todd Mobley, Tim Moore, Kaleb Van Ort, John Keane, David Alber, Kevin Somok and Brian Kerwin (subject to change) should all see action in the varsity race at the National Catholic. The men’s race is set for 5:00 p.m., while the women will take off at 4:15 p.m.

How to find the National Catholic meet: All Notre Dame home cross country meets are run on the Burke Memorial Golf Course on the west side of campus. Parking is available in close proximity and visitors should enter at Dorr Road, land marked by the WNDU television stations. If traveling from the south, simply follow U.S. 933 through downtown South Bend until you reach campus. From the north, east or west, take the Indiana Toll Road to the Notre Dame exit, head south and look for Dorr Road. Admission to all Notre Dame cross country/track and field events is free.