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Irish return majority of team this season

Bobby Griffin | Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Notre Dame women performed well last season, taking home a Big East Championship, and finishing 10th in the NCAA championships. The team will look to improve upon last year’s success this fall. The Irish return many of last year’s starters, which should be a key factor in their success. Senior Lauren King and junior Molly Huddle will be the main components. King is coming off a year in which she earned Academic All-American honors, for only the third time in Notre Dame history. King has also been an All-American three times.Huddle captured the Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Runner of the Year. Huddle also finished 7th at the United States Olympic trials.Irish coach Tim Connelly also stressed that runners outside of King and Huddle will have an impact on this year’s team. Kerry Meager, Stephanie Media and Loryn King, who is coming off of knee surgery, will all be key runners for this year’s squad.The Irish will open their season Sept. 9th, when they travel the Valparaiso Invitational. Connelly, who earned Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year last season, expects a lot from his team coming into the season. With the growing strength of the program and the subsequent attention it is garnering, Connelly is looking forward to great things. Connelly said that while 10th place at the NCAA Championships was good, it was a bit of a disappointment. This year, the coach is setting his sights a bit higher. “We return most of our team from last year that finished 10th in the NCAAs,” Connelly said. “The expectations are to be a minimum top 10 team if not better.”Connelly also said he is excited about the talented group of freshmen, especially Sonni Olding. He hopes she can contribute right away. In high school, Olding was ranked No. 1 in the nation in the two-mile run with a time of 10:25.82.Connelly said progress and development will be more focused on the track for the younger runners.”We’ve got some kids that, with time, are going to contribute,” Connelly said. Following the Valparaiso Invitational, the Irish will compete in the National Catholic Invitational and the Notre Dame Invitational before the Pre-National Championships, the Big East Championships, the Great Lakes Regional, and the NCAA Championships. If all goes well, last year’s 10th place finish will only be a stepping-stone for the talented group of 2004.