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ND Cross Country

Irish to host National Catholic Championships

| Thursday, September 18, 2014

Both the men’s and women’s squads will be at full strength this weekend, as Notre Dame hosts the 35th annual National Catholic Championships, after the teams’ younger runners carried the Irish to a strong start in the Crusader Open.

Irish junior Michael Clevenger, on the right, keeps up with graduated J.P. Malette, during the Notre Dame Invitational at Notre Dame Golf Course on Oct. 4.Observer File Photo

Irish junior Michael Clevenger, right, keeps up with graduated J.P. Malette, during the Notre Dame Invitational at Notre Dame Golf Course on Oct. 4.

In the first meet of the season, the men’s team was led by sophomores Chris Marco and Jacob Dumford, who finished first and second, respectively. Notre Dame had three other runners, all freshmen, finish in the top ten. John Flannery finished in fifth, Kevin Pulliam finished ninth and Calvin Kraft placed 10th out of 41 runners. For the women’s team, freshmen Sydney Foreman and Kaitlin Frei had the best finishes for the Irish, finishing fourth and seventh out of 39 runners. While the men defended their team title, the women’s side only raced four athletes and therefore were ineligible for a team score.

Now for Notre Dame’s second meet, the upperclassmen will make their season debut after being held from the first race by new coach Matt Sparks.

“This weekend we will be running all healthy and available athletes,” Sparks said. “We have two of our top men sitting out. [Junior] Tim Ball has a family obligation and [junior] Michael Clevenger is coming off a small injury. The women’s team will be at full strength for the National Catholic Championship.”

The start of the season has been exciting thus far for everyone on the team, Sparks said. The chemistry between the runners and Sparks has gotten better over the course of the training and start of the season, he said.

“I believe the team is really starting to believe in the changes to the program,” Sparks said. “They are excited to put the long summer of hard training behind them and look forward to the competitive part of the season.”

Looking towards the National Catholic Championships, where Notre Dame has dominated in recent history, Sparks said he expects to continue that success. Notre Dame’s women’s and men’s team have won first place at the National Catholic Championships five years in a row. Since the 1999 season, Notre Dame has not finished lower than second place on either the men’s or women’s side.

“We have traditionally represented Notre Dame very well at the National Catholic Championship and I expect a similar experience this year,” Sparks said. “This will be the first large invitational (37 teams) for the freshman and I am looking forward to see how they react.”

Marquette , Holy Cross, Detroit-Mercy, Dayton and Pennsylvania State are a few of the 37 teams that will be racing in attempt to dethrone Notre Dame at the National Catholic Championships. Over 800 runners are scheduled to compete in four races. In the men’s and women’s varsity races, the team scores will be split between the Div. I programs and all other competing squads.

The 35th annual National Catholic Championships will take place Friday at Notre Dame Golf Course, where the Irish will look to take the title for the sixth year in a row. The first race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

Contact Manuel