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Irish men fall short in NCC’s

Chris Khorey | Monday, September 19, 2005

Patrick Smyth left everything he had on the course.

The Notre Dame freshman exploded through the last mile to run away from Duquesne junior Chris Horvat to win the individual title at the National Catholic Championships in his first career race Friday.

Smyth’s effort was not enough, however, as Duquesne placed three runners in the top ten to edge a young Irish men’s roster 45-46 and take the team title. It was the first time in 10 years Notre Dame did not win the National Catholic Championship.

On the women’s side, Irish sophomore Sunni Olding outran Loyola’s (Md.) Andrew Rovegno and won the five-kilometer race in 17:42. Notre Dame won overall with 48 points to second place Duquesne’s 101.

The meet was the brainchild of coach Joe Piane in 1980 and is hosted annually by Notre Dame at the Burke Memorial Golf Course. This year’s version featured 35 teams and more than 300 competitors.

Smyth won the men’s race with a time of 24:36, a full 14 seconds ahead of Horvat. The two ran neck-and-neck for the first four miles, but Smyth pulled away during the fifth mile.

Smyth said his experience running in similar one-on-one situations in high school helped during his battle with Horvat.

“You can kind of feel [your opponent] out,” he said. “By the last mile you know if they’re tiring or not. I knew he was hurting, so I took off with a mile to go.”

Smyth also credited his late race success to working out at Burke during the week.

“We did mile repeats here on Tuesday,” he said. “We did five, 1-mile repeats, the entire course. Knowing the course and having been out here with my teammates before really helped.”

Irish sophomore Brett Adams bested Duquesne freshman Josh Eddy in the last 100 yards to finish fourth, but Dukes sophomore Tom Slosky pulled away from a pack including Irish runners Dan Bradley and Chris Rodriguez to finish ninth and become the third Duquesne runner in the top 10.

Bradley and Rodriguez finished in 11th and 12th, managing to stay just ahead of Duke senior Kevin Borelli.

That left Notre Dame ahead by one point after four runners had come in for each team, but a hard charge by Irish freshman Mark Moore came up four seconds and two places behind Duquesne senior Zach Dorman.

For the second straight meet, Piane sent out a young lineup made up of freshmen and sophomores in an effort to rest his more experienced runners for later competition and get his inexperienced runners more race time.

Sophomore Mike Popejoy and freshman Kevin Vaselik ran along with Smyth, Adams, Bradley, Rodriguez and Moore for the Irish men.

It is important for freshmen to learn how to run an 8K race instead of the shorter 5K.

“You can’t go out too hard or your going to tire at the end of the race more than you would with a 5K,” Smyth said.

Smyth also commented on the transition in training from high school cross-country to college.

“The whole team has been pushing me to limits I’ve never been pushed to before in my running career,” he said.

The Irish women had a much easier time, cruising to a victory with a more experienced lineup.

Olding, a former All-American, won the race. Senior Elizabeth Webster was the next Irish runner across the line in sixth place with a time of 18:08. Next for Notre Dame was junior Ann Mazur, who finished 11th with a time of 18:24.

Then the Irish pack came in, with six runners – senior Jean Marinangeli, sophomore Julie Opet, freshman Becca Bauman, junior Katie DeRusso, senior Loryn King and junior Amy Kohlmeyer – finishing within 20 seconds and nine places of each other.

This huge group of Irish pushed back the fourth and fifth runners for both Duquesne and third place Xavier and helped Notre Dame win going away.

Loyola finished fourth, followed by Dayton, Bellarmine and the College of St. Benedict.

On the men’s side, Xavier finished a distant third, followed by Lewis, Dayton and Loyola.