March 28, 1999

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame freshman and 1999 U.S. junior national champion Luke Watson (Stillwater, Minn.) finished 34th out of 155 runners and was the third American to cross the finish line Sunday at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Watson, who claimed the U.S. junior title in Tacoma, Wash. on Feb. 14, finished with a time of 28:18 on the 8K course. Hailu Mekonnen of Ethiopia won the race in 25:28, while Kenya claimed the team title with four runners finishing in the top six. Other Americans competing on the team which placed sixth overall included: Fasil Bizuneh (25th), Isaiah Festa (30th), Steve Slattery (41st), Adam Tenforde (56th) and Jorge Torres (65th). The sixth-place finish was the United States’ best showing since the team placed fifth in 1988.

In the 1998 cross country season, Watson was Notre Dame’s second-best runner and claimed All-BIG EAST honors for placing seventh at the BIG EAST Championships.

Overall, Notre Dame has had five runners, including Watson, compete at the World Junior Cross Country Championships. Last year, Notre Dame freshman Ryan Shay (Central Lake, Mich.), now a sophomore, posted the highest individual finish by an American since 1992 when he took home 10th place with a time of 24:20. Current Notre Dame senior Antonio Arce (Palmdale, Calif.) ran in the world championships in 1996, while former Irish All-Americans John Coyle (1990) and Jason Rexing (1995) have also competed in the world championships.