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Irish sweep Catholic Championships again

Kate Arnold | Monday, September 17, 2007

The Irish once again earned bragging rights on Friday afternoon at the 28th annual National Catholic Championship, held at Notre Dame’s Burke Golf Course. Both the men’s and women’s teams captured the first place title over the 35 Division I teams competing.

Notre Dame has a rich history of success at the National Catholic Championship. The men’s team has won 19 races, 17 of them within the last 20 years, while the women’s team has won 14 of the last 16 titles.

The women’s team was especially successful, claiming five of the top seven spots. In her first collegiate race, freshman Marissa Treece took the gold with a time of 17:24, 20 seconds ahead of the field

Treece didn’t have to wait long at the finish line to celebrate with her teammates. Sophomore Lindsey Ferguson finished next for the Irish in fourth place overall(17:49).

Freshman Theresa Cattuna (18:03), senior Ann Mazur, and sophomore Beth Tacl were right behind Ferguson finishing fifth, sixth, and seventh.

The men’s team also continued their domination against all other teams, but they do not take their success for granted.

“It’s always a challenge,” men’s head coach Joe Piane said. “Two years ago we lost to Duquesne.”

All five Notre Dame runners finished in the top ten spots.

Finishing first for the Irish was freshman Dan Jackson. 14 seconds behind the first-place runner, Jackson took second of 242 runners with a time of 24:50.

Coming in only three seconds after Jackson, freshman Paul Springer placed third overall.

Paine was excited about the freshmen joining the team, and looks forward to continued excellence.

“I thought Jackson and Springer would be up there,” he said. “They came in as some of the best runners in the country. They’re quality, quality kids, strong as an ox and love to compete.”

Next followed senior Brett Adams (25:17), senior Mike Popejoy (25:29), and junior Kevin Vaselik (25:32). They finished fifth, ninth, and tenth, respectively.

Both teams chose to run in packs this week, a strategy that certainly paid off.

Jackson and Springer were neck and neck for the entire race, and the other team members stayed together as a pack for the first three miles.

“It’s the best way to run cross country,” Piane said. “It intimidates the other team.”

The Irish will have two weeks to prepare for their next competition, the Notre Dame Invitational, scheduled for Friday, September 28 at 4:15.

The coaches look forward to another successful meet, with times comparable to this weekend’s.

“They’ll continue to run these times, even though this course was especially fast. The course has the elevation of a pool table,”, Piane said. “These next meets will be really demanding. The Notre Dame Invitational will be hard, and the Pre-National meet harder still, and so on through the NCAAs.”