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ND Cross Country

Runners set for National Catholic Championships

| Thursday, September 17, 2015

Notre Dame returns to action this weekend at the National Catholic Championship, the second event of its 2015 season.

The National Catholic Championship follows the season-opening Crusader Open, where the Irish had runner-up finishes for both the men’s and women’s teams. At the Catholic Championship last season, the Notre Dame women took first and the men finished in second.

“We’re running for the win,” Notre Dame head coach Matt Sparks said. “I know last year, for the men, we underestimated the competition at this meet, and now we’re coming into things with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder on something to prove. A year ago, we weren’t quite sure what to expect with a new coach, staff and team.

“On the women’s side, there will be a lot of new faces. [Senior] Molly Seidel won’t be racing because she is getting ready for some of the later season competition, so we will be looking for freshmen to probably fill in four of our top-five spots. We’re looking for them to work together and push each other toward a team win.”

In the season-opening Crusader Open, the Irish were led by sophomore Calvin Kraft, who finished in fourth, and junior Chris Marco, who took seventh. In the women’s race, sophomore Sydney Foreman was the runner-up while junior Elli Brady and sophomore Kaitlin Frei also had placed in the top 10. As a team, both the men and women finished behind Purdue. The Crusader Open was hosted by Valparaiso, which placed third.

The National Catholic Championship is one of two events Notre Dame will host this year and will take place on the Notre Dame Golf Course. The second event the Irish host is the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational, which is the next race on the schedule for Notre Dame after Friday’s race.

“Whenever you have a meet at home, you hope to have a positive experience,” said Sparks. “We host this meet and the Notre Dame Invitational meet, which is the premier collegiate event probably that week in the country, so whenever you host a meet at home, you always want to put your best foot forward. It is a unique experience for us hosting the National Catholic Championship with 30 of the 40 teams here competing are all Division I schools. We’re proud to show off our university to all of these schools coming here.

“It’s great to have it on campus. We go to a lot of cross country meets that are not on a university campus [where] we’re just there to run. When athletes come to Notre Dame to compete, they’re truly coming to Notre Dame to compete. They’re right on campus, with the Golden Dome in the background, and it’s a unique experience for them, so we like to roll out the red carpet for anyone who comes here.”

The women’s race at the 36th annual National Catholic Championships is set to begin at 4:15 p.m. Friday, while the men will race at 5 p.m.

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