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Irish finish 10th at championships

Joe Lindsley | Tuesday, November 25, 2003

It was bitterly cold Monday in Cedar Falls as the Iowa town played host to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. While two Irish runners had All-American days, the fourth-ranked Notre Dame women’s team did not cap off the season with the warm feeling of victory that it had become accustomed to in the past months.

Just last week, the Irish commanded the field at the Great Lakes Regional with their first place finish, and, propelled by that momentum they were hoping Monday to meet or better their third place performance in last year’s national championships. While they did not accomplish that goal, the Irish nevertheless finished in a respectable 10th place in the nation.

“None of us ran what we wanted to run, [with the exception of junior Lauren King],” sophomore Stephanie Madia said. “We’re pretty disappointed.”

“You need five girls to have five great races,” she said. “That didn’t happen.”

Despite the team’s disappointments, King had a stellar day, earning her third consecutive All-America honor with her 28th place finish.

She is the first female Irish cross-country harrier to do so.

King reclaimed the position she had last season as the team’s top runner as she surpassed talented Irish sophomore Molly Huddle by about 13 seconds.

King said she has had some struggles this season, so earning her third cross-country All-America honor was a proud moment.

“That was a positive for me,” she said. “I feel like I’m finally getting on the right path.” While the Notre Dame men’s team did not qualify for the national title race, senior Todd Mobley and sophomore Tim Moore ran individually. Mobley, competing in his last collegiate cross-country race, earned his second All-American honors with his 27th place finish.

He completed the 10,000-meter course in 30 minutes, 9.5 seconds.

Mobley, who was of course disappointed that his team was not able to run Monday, was pleased with his final performance as an Irish cross-country runner, although in retrospect he saw improvements he could have made throughout the season.

“I don’t think I had an exceptional race,” he said. “Had the season gone slightly better, I think I could have done better [Monday].”

As a sophomore, Mobley earned his first All-American honor – something that had been a goal of his for some time – but an injury prevented him from earning the coveted award last season. Mobley admits that during his sophomore year, he had taken that success for granted.

“When I earned All-American honors sophomore year, I figured I would get them every year,” he said. “Since my injury, I’ve become more appreciative of winning All-American honors. I now know what it takes.”

King also spoke of taking successes for granted.

“I think we’ve been spoiled,” she said. “We’ve taken some of the wins for granted. Finishing third last year was a dream.”

Despite disappointments with the 10th place finish – which put Notre Dame behind foes it had already defeated this season, namely Michigan and Providence – King is still impressed with the overall season.

“It was a fantastic season,” she said. “We were Big East champions for the second consecutive year.

It’s unfortunate that we can’t show that at the national meet.”

She cautioned, though, that Notre Dame is not looking to settle in as the 10th best team in the country.

“Once you feel that pain, that heartache, you don’t want to feel that again,” she said. “ND women’s cross country and track is a force to be reckoned with.”

The men’s team likely was experiencing more pain than the Irish women’s squad Monday.

Both Mobley and Moore believe that, had the Irish been awarded an at-large bid to the title race, they would have performed better than some of the other teams racing Monday.

“It kind of hurt to watch some teams run so poorly when we know we could have had a good race,” Mobley said.

“We definitely could have done some damage,” Moore said.