Senior Jessica Rydberg finished 18th at the 2011 BIG EAST Championship

Irish Set For Fierce Competition At BIG EAST Championships

Oct. 27, 2011

BIG EAST Championships Homepage

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With fierce competition awaiting them, the Notre Dame cross country teams head to Louisville, Ky., this week for Saturday’s BIG EAST Championships.

The men’s 8K race opens the day at 11 a.m., with the women’s 6K race following at 11:50 a.m. Playing host to the day’s competition is E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville. Complete meet information can be found at the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships homepage here.

Three men’s teams that are currently ranked in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll (USTFCCCA) will compete on Saturday. In addition to the No. 29 Irish, No. 14 Providence and No. 16 Villanova also highlight the field. Louisville and Georgetown are currently receiving national votes and Syracuse has been ranked during the season.

The loaded women’s field features seven teams in the top 30 in the national polls, including four teams in the top 10. Top-10 teams include No. 4 Villanova, No. 6 Georgetown, No. 7 Providence and No. 9 Syracuse. Also ranked are No. 18 West Virginia, No. 23 Notre Dame and No. 28 Connecticut.

Notre Dame is coming off two straight meets where it battled elite competition. The women took fifth at the Notre Dame Invitational and 15th at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, knocking off nine ranked opponents between the two meets, while the men placed 11th at the Notre Dame Invitational and 19th at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, defeating six ranked teams along the way.

Junior Jessica Rydberg has paced the Irish in all four meets this season in her return after missing the entire 2010 campaign with injury. Also turning in consistent performances for Notre Dame has been sophomore Alexa Aragon and senior Susanna Sullivan.

Pack running has been the theme for the men’s team, as no one male runner has separated himself from the others. Individuals that have been near the top of many races are sophomores Martin Grady and Walter Schafer, juniors Jeremy Rae and J.P. Malette and senior Kelly Lynch.

Last year the men and women placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Senior Dan Jackson earned all-BIG EAST accolades after placing 12th. Overall, the men’s squad has won five BIG EAST titles, with the last one in 2005, while the women’s squad has won three, with the last one also coming in 2005.

Complete coverage of the 2011 BIG EAST Championships will be available on at the conclusion of Saturday’s meet.