June 24, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After both finishing ranked among the top 10 nationally last season, the Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams will look to reach even greater heights in 2005 as they compete in a rigorous schedule that was released Friday. The Irish will take part in four regular-season meets, playing host to a pair of events, before entering postseason action with the BIG EAST Conference Championship, the Great Lakes Regional and the NCAA Championship.
The Notre Dame men, coached by veteran mentor Joe Piane, have six of seven runners back from last year’s squad that was ranked fifth in the nation and finished 11th at the NCAA Championships. Meanwhile, the Irish women, piloted by longtime skipper Tim Connelly, were ranked No. 6 nationally last season, took fourth at the NCAA meet and have three All-Americans back in the fold, led by seniors-to-be Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame HS) and Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny HS).
Notre Dame’s cross country teams will open their 2005 seasons on Sept. 9 at the Valparaiso Invitational, with the women’s race starting at 4:15 p.m. (EST) and the men’s race getting underway at 5 p.m. (EST). The Irish then will return to campus for two home meets, starting with the National Catholic Championship on Sept. 16 at the Burke Memorial Golf Course. Conceived by Piane and implemented in 1980, the meet features teams from prominent Catholic institutions around the country. The Irish men have won the past 10 team titles, with rising senior Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi HS) back to defend his individual crown. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame women have won 11 of the past 13 National Catholic Championships, including the past three in a row, with Madia poised to return as the individual champion. The National Catholic women’s race starts at 4:15 p.m. (EST), followed by the men’s race at 5 p.m. (EST).
Two weeks later, the Irish cross country teams will be back on their home turf for the 50th running of the Notre Dame Invitational. One of the nation’s oldest and largest cross country meets, it was started in 1956 by former Irish head coach Alex Wilson and is contested annually at the Burke Memorial Golf Course. On the men’s side, Notre Dame and Stanford have alternated as champions the past five years, with the Cardinal coming in as the reigning victors. Meanwhile, the Irish have won three of the past four women’s races, although Stanford won the title in 2004. Five races are set to be contested at the Notre Dame Invitational, starting with the Gold Division events (women – 2 p.m. EST; men – 2:45 p.m.), followed by the open race at 3:30 p.m. (EST) and concluding with the varsity/Blue Division races (women – 4:15 p.m. EST; men – 5 p.m.).
Notre Dame will close out its regular-season schedule Oct. 15 at the Pre-National Championship Meet in Terre Haute, Ind., at the Lavern Gibson course that also will play host to the NCAA Championships at season’s end. The Irish then head to Van Cortland Park in Bronx, N.Y., on Oct. 28 for the BIG EAST Championships, with the Notre Dame men set to defend their title (the Irish edged Georgetown by one point last season) and the Notre Dame women looking to return to the top spot for the third time in four years (they won the conference crown in 2002 and 2003 before placing second last year).
The Irish will turn their attention to the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 12 in Bloomington, Ind., with both squads seeking to build upon last year’s runner-up regional finishes. The Notre Dame men also are scheduled to take part in the IC4A Championships on Nov. 19 back at Van Cortland Park in Bronx, N.Y., before both Irish cross country teams head to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 22.
— ND —