March 17, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s cross country team has been designated as an All-Academic Cross Country Team, it was announced recently by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association (USCCCA). The Irish registered a combined team grade-point average (GPA) of 3.22 for its 23-member squad, making them one of 62 schools selected to receive the honor this season, and third among teams of their size (23-member Bucknell had a 3.34 GPA, while 30-member Portland had a 3.26 GPA).
Notre Dame also sported the best combination of academics and athletics of any team in the nation this year, pairing its USCCCA All-Academic status with a third-place finish at last fall’s NCAA Championships. Three other schools finished among the top 10 at the NCAA final and garnered USCCCA All-Academic honors — fourth-place Iona (3.23 GPA), sixth-place Stanford (3.36) and ninth-place Portland (3.26).
The No. 3 finish for the Irish at the national meet was their eighth top-three placement all-time, and it matched the best NCAA showing for Notre Dame in the 31-year career of legendary head coach Joe Piane. Along with other third-place finishes in 1963 and 1990, one has to go back to Notre Dame’s national championship season of 1957 to find a better performance by an Irish men’s cross country team. In addition, Notre Dame scored 178 points in this year’s meet, its lowest point total in the Piane era and best since 1964, when the Irish tallied 122 points en route to a fourth-place finish.
Notre Dame was paced by three runners who finished among the top 50 in the field and achieved All-America status, tying a school record for All-American citations in one NCAA Championship meet (also in 2001). Junior Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.) registered his fifth top-10 finish in as many races and earned his first cross country All-America certificate by finishing eighth in the NCAA race, crossing the line in 29:50.2 to become only the third Irish runner to break the 30-minute barrier since the event expanded to 10,000 meters more than two decades ago.
Senior Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi) landed his second cross country All-America citation in as many years, finishing 31st in 30:15 for his best performance in four trips to the NCAA Championships. Meanwhile, senior Kaleb Van Ort (Waterloo, Ind./DeKalb) wrapped up an impressive comeback from an early-season injury with his first All-America honor, placing 41st at the national finals in 30:22.
— ND —