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Cross Country: Irish win Big East

Joe Lindsley | Monday, November 3, 2003

Running at New York’s Van Cortland Park Friday, the fifth-ranked Notre Dame women’s cross country team claimed its second straight Big East title, while the No. 24 Irish men’s team finished second ahead of some higher-ranked opponents.

While the women had all five of their scoring runners in the top 20, they did not repeat last year’s success, which included then-sophomore Lauren King claiming the individual title.

This year, Providence’s Kim Smith finished 36 seconds ahead of Notre Dame’s top runner, sophomore Molly Huddle. Huddle, who finished second last year, directly behind King, arrived at the finish line in third place with a time of 20:47.

Over the past two seasons, the Irish lineup has generally been led by the duo of Huddle and King, with King leading more races last year and Huddle going ahead more often this season. Friday, though, junior Kerry Meagher, in her first season running varsity, surged to second for the Irish and sixth overall as she earned her first Big East all-conference honor.

Last spring, Meagher was a regional finalist in the 1,600 meters – an accomplishment that encouraged her to train harder for the upcoming cross-country season. Given the hard work and extra mileage she put in over the summer months, the junior was pleased to earn all-conference honors and to finish second for the team, but she was not thrilled when she passed her classmate King on the course.

“I wasn’t really excited to pass her, because that meant she was not running as well as she usually does,” Meagher said.

Notre Dame’s team total of 59 points put the Irish ahead of Big East rivals Providence and Georgetown. The Friars and Hoyas each finished with 80 points, but Providence won the tie-breaker to claim second place.

Prior to last season, the Irish women had never won a Big East title, and now, winning each of the last two years is a proud moment for the team.

As a result of the team’s success, coach Tim Connelly was named Big East Coach of the Year.

While the men failed to win the Big East title at Van Cortland Park for just the second time in the five championships held at the course, the Irish nevertheless had a productive day. Notre Dame, ranked 24th, failed to catch No. 13 Georgetown but the Irish finished just one point ahead of No. 11 Villanova.