Junior Chris Rodriguez led the Irish men by winning the 6K race with atime of 19:51.

Irish Men Finish First, Women Take Third At Crusader Cross Country Invitational

Sept. 9, 2005


VALPARAISO, Ind. – Running for the first time this season, the Notre Dame men’s cross country team defended its title at the Crusader Invitational, while the Irish women placed third for the second consecutive season at the meet, which was contested Friday afternoon in Valparaiso, Ind., at Sunset Hills Park. Both Notre Dame squads consisted almost entirely of underclassmen who were making their collegiate debuts, as the Irish look to build depth and experience for later in the season.

The Notre Dame men won the eight-team Crusader Invitational for the second year in a row, scoring 26 points to outdistance second-place Oakland, which chalked up 35 points. Of the nine Irish runners competing in the 8K race, six finished among the top nine athletes in the 82-man field. Leading the way was freshman Chris Rodriguez (Kelso, Wash./Kelso), who claimed runner-up honors in a time of 26:01, 12 seconds behind race winner Adam Frezza of Oakland. Hot on Rodriguez’s heels was sophomore Zach Einterz (Zionsville, Ind./Community) in third place at 26:12. Then, Notre Dame’s depth took over, as four Irish runners came across the line nearly simultaneously in places six through nine. Sophomore James Millar (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s), running in his first-ever college race, headed up the charge in sixth place (26:28), followed a second later by classmates Brett Adams (Davenport, Iowa/Assumption) and Daniel Bradley (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph’s). Another second behind the trio was freshman Mark Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi), completing a dominating top-10 surge by Notre Dame.

Moments later, sophomore Mike Popejoy (Wheaton, Ill./Warrenville South) cracked the tape in 12th place (26:37), while senior Tom Longo (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook) earned 17th-place honors in a time of 26:57. Freshman Kevin McFadden (New Tripoli, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic) rounded out the Irish contingent in 30th place (27:41).

“I was pleased with the way our guys ran this race,” Notre Dame head men’s cross country coach Joe Piane said. “We asked them to go out conservatively and they did, but once we settled into our rhythm, we did a nice job of attacking the course and dictating the pace. It was especially good to see so many of our up-and-coming runners step up and perform — that bodes very well for the future of our program.”

Meanwhile, the Irish women’s cross country team wound up in third place after scoring 72 points, trailing Oakland (48) and host Valparaiso (55) in the final standings. Four of the eight Notre Dame runners were among the top 20 in the 6K race, which featured a total of 72 competitors. Western Illinois’ Beth Whalen won the individual title in a time of 22:44, while junior Ann Mazur (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-LaSalle) was the first Irish athlete to cross the line, taking sixth place in a time of 23:30. Freshman Becca Bauman (Grand Rapids, Mich./Catholic Central) looked sharp in her collegiate debut, finishing ninth overall (23:35), while sophomores Julie Opet (Wayne, Pa./Radnor) and Allyson Parker (Macungie, Pa./Emmaus) were right behind Bauman, placing 16th (23:41) and 19th (23:52), respectively.


Junior Ann Mazur finished sixth (23:30) at the Crusader Invitational, as the Irish women placed third in the team standings for the second consecutive year. (photo by Chris Masters)



Sophomore Meagan McGinley (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) was the next Irish runner to finish with a 22nd-place showing (23:55), followed by senior Loryn King (Arlington Heights, Ill./St. Viator) in 25th place at 24:16. A pair of freshmen — Heidi Rocha (Palmdale, Calif./Lancaster Paraclete) and Elena Brandewie (Valparaiso, Ind./Andrean) — completed the Notre Dame group, with Rocha in 30th place (24:46) and Brandewie in 38th place (25:15).

“This was definitely not our best effort this afternoon,” Irish head women’s cross country coach Tim Connelly said. “We’ve trained a lot better than this and I was disappointed with the way things turned out. We waited back too long and didn’t make our move like I expected we would. I did like the race that Ann (Mazur) and Becca (Bauman) ran, but as a group, we should have done better.”

The Notre Dame cross country teams will return to the course next Friday, Sept. 16, when they play host to the 26th annual National Catholic Championship at Burke Memorial Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus. The junior varsity race will start at 3:30 p.m., followed by the women’s varsity race at 4:15 p.m. and the men’s event at 5 p.m. — all times are Eastern Standard (the equivalent of Central Daylight Time).

— ND —