Nov. 22, 2004
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s cross country team used an amazing effort from each runner to capture a fourth place finish at the NCAA championships on Monday at a soggy LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. Junior Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) was the top Irish finisher as she crossed the line at 20:58 to place 23rd overall. The Irish men were lead by sophomore Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.), who placed 42nd in a time of 31:54. Colorado swept both the men’s and women’s events, while Providence’s Kim Smith (20:09) won the women’s race and Wisconsin’s Simon Bairu (30:38) was victorious in the men’s competition.
Joining Madia as All-Americans for the Irish women were freshman Sunni Olding (Minster, Ohio/Minster), who placed 32nd in a time of 21:10 in her first national race, and senior Kerry Meagher (Allentown, Pa./Allentown Cent. Cath.) as she also clocked in at 21:10 to place 34th. Just missing out of All-American status was junior Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame), who gutted out the race on a sore foot that caused her to miss the Great Lakes Regional last week. Huddle, a seven-time All-American in track and cross country, placed 40th in a time of 21:14. The Irish entered the race sixth in the nation.
“This was beyond anything I expected,” said Notre Dame women’s head coach Tim Connelly, whose team has now collected three straight top-10 finishes at the national meet. “I couldn’t have imagined doing this at the beginning of the day. They were just running for each other and what Molly did was incredible. These seven kids put everything they had out there and I would have been proud whether we were 15th or fourth.”
Senior Lauren King (Toronto, Ontario/Lawrence Park Coll. Inst.) rounded out the scoring for Notre Dame, who collected its second-best showing in program history, as she ran in 22:04 to place 111th. King and Huddle helped lead the Fighting Irish to a third-place showing at the NCAA meet in 2002. Notre Dame finished 10th at the national race one year ago. Junior Jean Marinangeli (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) (136) clocked in at 22:17 and sophomore Katie DeRusso (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport) (211) at 23:04 to complete the Irish field on Monday.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” commented Madia about the attitude of the team following the race. “Our team showed what a team is supposed to do. Our best is what we needed and we were able to do that. We had a lot of adversity early on this season and we got a little over confident in the beginning and then we were humbled. But it doesn’t matter what happened the rest of the year because we got it done today at the big show.”
On the men’s side, junior Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi) was right behind Benninger in 43rd with a time of 31:56. Two more Irish runners were neck and neck as junior Kaleb Van Ort (Waterloo, Ind./Dekalb) and senior Sean O’Donnell (Kansas City, Mo./Rockhurst) placed in 96th and 97th, respectively, both in times of 32:32. Ryan Johnson (Auburn, Ind./Auburn) completed the Notre Dame scoring as he crossed the finish line at 33:30 to place 189th. Junior’s Vincent Ambrico (Alamonte Springs, Fla./Choate Rosemary Hall) and AJ Andrassy (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) completed the team for the Fighting Irish as they clocked in times of 34:24 and 35:48, respectively.
“In a few days we’ll be happy with the result,” stated Irish men’s head coach Joe Piane. “But this was clearly not what we wanted to do today. To begin the season unranked and to finish 11th in the country is not bad, but we were hoping and capable of more. However, six of the seven guys are back next year and we’ll be ready.” Notre Dame entered today’s race ranked fifth in the nation.
For full results of today’s races log on to www.ncaasports.com. For more information log onto www.und.com or call the Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.
2004 NCAA Championships (11/22/04- LaVern Gibson Championship Course)
MEN’S TOP-11 TEAM RESULTS: 1. Colorado 90, 2. Wisconsin 94, 3. Arkansas 202, 4. Butler 243, 5. BYU, 267, 6, Stanford 269, 7. Iona 279, 8. Arizona State 315, 9. New Mexico 330, 10. Caly Poly 333, 11. Notre Dame 350.
TOP-5 MEN PLUS NOTRE DAME FINISHERS: 1. Simon Bairu (Wisconsin) 30:37, 2. Matt Gonzales (New Mexico) 30:40, 3. Josphat Boit (Arkansas) 30:41, 4. Brent Vaughn (Colorado) 30:48, 5. Bret Schoolmeester (Colorado) 30:56, NOTRE DAME: 42. Kurt Benninger 31:54, 43. Tim Moore 31:56, 96. Kaleb Van Ort 32:32, 97. Sean O’Donnell 32:32, 189. Ryan Johnson 33:30, 224. Vincent Ambrico 34:24, 240. AJ Andrassy 35:48.
WOMEN’S TOP-10 TEAM RESULTS: 1. Colorado 63, 2. Duke 144, 3. Providence 164, 4. Notre Dame 170, 5. Stanford 175, 6. Michigan 246, 7. Villanova 277, 8. BYU 293, 9. Arizona State 333, 10. North Carolina 336.
TOP-5 WOMEN PLUS NOTRE DAME FINISHERS: 1. Kim Smith (Providence) 20:08, 2. Renee Metevier (Colorado) 20:26, 3. Caroline Bierbaum (Columbia) 20:30, 4. Laura Turner (BYU) 20:37, 5. Maureen McCandless (Pittsburgh) 20:38, NOTRE DAME: 23. Stephanie Madia 20:58, 32. Sunni Olding 21:10, 34. Kerry Meagher 21:10, 40. Molly Huddle 21:14, 111. Lauren King 22:04, 136. Jean Marinangeli 22:17, 211. Katie DeRusso 23:04.
— ND –