Nov. 19, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams are back in a familiar position this time of year as they are set to compete at the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Monday, Nov. 22. The nationally ranked Irish programs will take to the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, where they ran pre-nationals a few weeks ago. Taking to the course first will be the sixth-ranked Notre Dame women, who run with the rest of the women’s field at 11:00 a.m. (EDT), followed by the men’s competition, which includes the No. 5 Irish squad, at 12:15 p.m.
THE FIELD: Each race will feature 31 teams along with several of the nation’s top runners participating as individuals. The team’s participating either gained entry through qualifying by finishing in the top-two of their respective region or gained one of 13 at-large bids. The Notre Dame men and women locked up their spots by each placing second at the Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 13. Both Irish squads placed second in their respective pre-national race back on October 16. Providence, Villanova and West Virginia will also be representing the BIG EAST in the women’s event, while Georgetown and Providence join BIG EAST champion Notre Dame in the men’s race.
NOTRE DAME LINEUPS: For the Irish women, Katie DeRusso, Lauren King, Stephanie Madia, Jean Marinangeli, Kerry Meagher, and Sunni Olding will take to the track. Either Molly Huddle or Maggie Nelsen will round out the field. Huddle, one of the team’s top runners, did not compete at the regional due to a sore foot. Madia clocked in a time of 20:10 to place fourth at the regional, while Olding (6) and Meagher (9) joined her in the top-10.
“The thing you want is to have all seven kids feel like they ran well,” said Irish women’s head coach Tim Connelly. “We have enough talent for a top-10 finish or better. At the beginning of the year we had better hopes but things have not fallen into place. We ran really well at regionals. If we run the same we’ll be alright.”
The Irish women have qualified for the past five national championships and this will be the program’s sixth trip overall since 1993. Their top finish was third in 2002 and they followed that up with a 10th-place showing last year. King led the Irish in 2001 and 2003 with finishes of 27th and 28th, respectively. Huddle was sixth at the 2002 championships also held at the LaVern Gibson Course.
On the men’s side, Notre Dame will run Vincent Ambrico, AJ Andrassy, Kurt Benninger, Ryan Johnson, Tim Moore, Sean O’Donnell, Kaleb Van Ort and Austin Weaver will be the alternate. Benninger was the top Irish finisher at the regional as he placed third overall in a time of 30:17. Van Ort placed eighth and Moore, who was Notre Dame’s top finisher (63rd) at nationals in 2002, was ninth.
“They are very excited,” said Notre Dame men’s head coach Joe Piane about his team’s attitude heading into the meet. “It’s been an amazing year to go from unranked to fifth. They’ve been on a high for the past six weeks and we hope to continue that for the next five or six days. We’re healthy and enthusiastic. They’ll be ready to run once we get on the bus on Friday.”
This will be the 11th trip to the NCAA meet for the men’s program in the past 13 years and the 41st overall since 1938. The team finished 22nd in their last appearance in 2002. Notre Dame won the title in 1957.
THE COURSE: The LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center hosted the 2002 NCAA meet and the pre-national races on Oct. 16. “It’s a challenging men’s course,” stated Piane. “It’s constantly rolling and coming at you. You have to be thinking for the entire 30 minutes that you are out there. If you have a lapse, you’ll lose some guys and fail.”
“They (Indiana State) run an incredible meet,” commented Connelly about the event. “We’ve run down there a lot. The kids love the course and are comfortable with it. They’ve run fairly well there.”
RESULTS: Results will be posted on www.ncaasports.com at the conclusion of each race. For additional information please log onto www.und.com or call the Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.
— ND –