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ND Cross Country: Irish claim multiple titles at Valporaiso

A.J. Godeaux | Monday, September 9, 2013


The Irish got their season underway this weekend at the Crusader Open at Valparaiso, claiming the women’s team title as well as the men’s and women’s individual crowns.

The Irish women, even without most of their top athletes, were dominant, as Notre Dame runners took the top six places and sophomore Sydni Meunier ran away with the women’s individual title with a 5-kilometer time of 17:57.7. The Irish blew away the competition with only 15 points; second-place Valparaiso’s racked-up 61 and Central Michigan came in third with 63.

Juniors Emily Frydrych (18:09.7) and Karen Lesiewicz (18:10.8), senior McKinzie Schulz  (18:17.8) and freshmen Elli Brady (18:22.8) and Gabrielle Thivierge (18:23.7) finished after Meunier.

“The kids just did a great job this weekend,” Irish women’s coach Tim Connelly said. “You always go into a meet expecting certain things, and I have a lot of confidence in these kids. Sweeping the top six, that’s something I was hoping for, something I expected.”

Beyond the great result, Connelly was also pleased with the experience the younger runners gained.

“A lot of these kids don’t have a lot of cross country experience,” Connelly said. “This is an opportunity to put them in positions that count. It’s one thing to be the sixth, seventh, eighth runner in a meet, not being sure if you’ll count. But here you’re the first, second, third runner on the team and you know how well you run counts.”

The Irish men also turned in an impressive performance, with senior Patrick Lesiewicz taking the men’s crown with a blazing time of 19:11.9 on the 6-kilometer course, his second career victory. Though the Irish barely missed out on the team crown, as IUPUI narrowly edged them out 27-28, men’s coach Joe Piane was positive about his team’s performance, starting with Lesiewicz.

“Lesiewicz was in our top tier of runners last year,” Piane said. “So I expected this out of him and he ran a great race.”

Freshman Scott Milling (19:20.7) notched a third place finish in his first ever collegiate race, while sophomore Kevin Durham (19:35.7) rounded out the top five. Piane also praised freshman Nicholas Laureano’s 11th-place finish. 

“We wanted to see a lot of our younger runners in this meet, and they didn’t disappoint,” Piane said. “Millings was impressive, and Durham missed most of the season last year so it was good to see him out there competing.”

The Irish next race in their first home meet of the season, the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 20 at the Notre Dame Golf Course.

Contact A.J. Godeaux at agodeaux@nd.edu