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Irish aiming high in ´03

JOE LINDSLEY | Thursday, August 21, 2003

After a season in which the Irish achieved their best-ever performance by claiming third at the NCAA championships, Notre Dame has high expectations for the approaching fall season.Especially promising for the team is that out of the top five runners at that race, only one of them, Ana Morales, was a senior. The Irish will retain, among others, their top duo of Molly Huddle and Lauren King. Huddle earned her first and King her second All-America honor at the national title race last year in Terre Haute, Ind. as they led the Irish with their 6th and 14th place finishes,respectively. Throughout the ’02 season, Huddle and King were atop the Irish lineup, though not always in the same order. Huddle’s finish at the national championships, just 12 seconds behind individual champion Shalane Flanagan of North Carolina, was the highest for a female Irish runner since Joanna Deeter’s third place finish in 1996. Like Huddle, Deeter was a freshman at the time.King also had impressive accomplishments last fall, including her victory at the Big East Championships, which was the first Irish individual title in that event since 1995. The duo, along with Stephanie Madia, Katie Wales and Jean Marinangeli, gave Notre Dame women’s cross country its first ever Big East conference title in the program’s 16-year history.The Irish still have a few weeks before their fall season is inaugurated with the Valpraiso Invitational Sept. 5. Notre Dame will likely have its first taste of national championship caliber competition Oct. 3 at the Burke Memorial Golf Course when the Irish host the Notre Dame Invitational. Last season, the Stanford Cardinal, who finished second at the NCAA Championships, took the title at the annual Irish invitational.