Nov. 16, 2002
The University of Notre Dame women’s cross country team followed up its first-ever BIG EAST Conference title two weeks ago with another first – a team title at the Great Lakes Regional in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday afternoon. The women, led by a second-place effort by freshman Molly Huddle and third-place run by sophomore Lauren King, ended up with a team total of 63 points, ahead of Michigan (107), Michigan State (120), Indiana (129) and Ball State (136).
The fifth-ranked Irish women assured themselves a spot in the NCAA Championship on Nov. 25, in Terre Haute, Ind., and are on pace for their highest-ever finish at the national meet.
The men’s team was looking to make a strong case for themselves and gain an at-large berth to the national meet, but those hopes suffered a blow in the highly competitive field. The Irish ended up eighth behind Wisconsin (57), Eastern Michigan (70), Central Michigan (123), Indiana (124), Ohio State (138), Michigan (142), Butler (145) and tied Michigan State with 208 points. The men were led by freshman Tim Moore in 14th place and junior Todd Mobley in 26th.
The women’s team had been following the same pattern in their last few meets, taking its signals from the dynamic duo of Lauren King and Huddle. The two Irish harriers have finished side-by-side for the last three races, including a one-two finish at the BIG EAST Championship. This time, Huddle was the leading Notre Dame runner, taking second behind Toledo’s Briana Shook (20:47.1). Huddle time of 20:57.2 was about five seconds ahead of Lauren King in third (21:01.9). Lauren King finished 17 seconds ahead of MSU’s Michelle Carson in fourth.
Notre Dame women’s head coach Tim Connelly expected a strong effort from senior Jen Handley, and the Irish veteran came through to finish sixth (21:28.6). She was followed by two more runners from the talented freshman class, Lori King (25th, 22:05.5) and Stephanie Madia (27th, 22:08.4). The sixth and seventh runners for the Irish also ran well, as Ana Morales was 41st in 22:25.9 and Jennifer Fibuch crossed the finish line in 69th (22:58.3).
The men’s team entered the meet welcoming back lead runner Todd Mobley, but the junior’s leg injury has kept him out of a portion of the team’s training over the last two weeks. Freshman Tim Moore, who has stepped up to lead the team in Mobley’s absence, ended up as the lead runner on Saturday with a 14th-place effort (30:57.1). Mobley ran well in his return, finishing 26th in 31:22.0.
Notre Dame’s third runner was junior David Alber (42nd, 31:42.), followed by sophomore Ryan Johnson (54th, 32:02.0) and junior Brian Kerwin (72nd, 32:35.5). Sophomore Eric Morrison (77th, 32:40.7) and senior John Keane (109th, 33:37.4) were the sixth and seventh runners for the Irish.
The Irish women will now make travel plans for the NCAA Championship, set for Monday, Nov. 25, in Terre Haute, Ind.
The men’s team will wait for the at-large announcements and also find out whether any runners will be invited to run unattached at the NCAA meet. The Irish also might decide to compete in the IC4A Championship in New York, N.Y., on Saturday, Nov. 23.