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MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Team to host National Catholic competition

Chris Khorey | Friday, September 16, 2005

Some matchups are simply unfair.

The No. 7 Irish hosting 35 other schools, none of whom are ranked, in the National College Championships, is one such lopsided arrangement.

The last time Notre Dame failed to win the National College Championships was 1994.

But a 10-year run of dominance could be expected, as the meet is the brainchild of longtime Notre Dame men’s cross country coach Joe Piane. It will feature schools of varying sizes. While there will be only one men’s and one women’s race, the teams have been divided into Division I and Small College competitions.

“There will be one race,” Piane said. “There will be an overall score, but then we pull out the Division II, Division III and NAIA schools and score them separately.”

Because the meet features 35 teams and over 300 competitors, Piane said the key to the meet will be separating from the enormous pack early.

“You need be a little more aggressive early, because if you get far behind, you’re going to spend four-and-a-half miles trying to pass people,” he said.

Piane said that each one of the over 150 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States is invited to the meet every year in hopes of creating a true national Catholic championship.

The Irish, ranked No. 7 by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association and fresh off a victory in the Valparaiso Invitational, will for the second straight week field a young line up. Varsity regulars Tim Moore, Kaleb Van Ort and Kurt Benninger will all sit out Friday’s meet.

Piane said he wanted to see his younger runners gain meet experience, and he also wanted to rest his top runners for late-season competitions.

Racing this week for the Irish will be sophomores Zach Einterz, Brett Adams, James Millar, Mark Moore, Dan Bradley and Mike Popejoy and freshmen Chris Rodriguez, Robbie Barany, Kevin Veselik and Patrick Smyth.

Rodriguez, Adams, Bradly, Millar, Moore and Popejoy all contributed to last week’s victory at Valparaiso. Rodriguez led the way with a second-place finish. Einterz, Adams, Bradley and Moore also finished in the top 10.

Veselik, Smyth and Barany are all running in their first collegiate race. Division I schools competing in Friday’s meet include Canisius, Dayton, DePaul, Duquesne, Detroit-Mercy, Holy Cross (MA), Loyola (MD), St. Louis, San Diego, Siena, St. Bonaventure, Xavier and Notre Dame.

The Irish are the highest ranked team in the field. No other team is ranked in the top 30 by the USCCCA.

Notre Dame has won the last 10 National Catholic Championships and has 17 total wins in the meets 26-year history.

The meet will begin with a JV race at 3:30 p.m. today, followed by the women’s race at 4:15 and the men’s race at 5. Admission is free to all races.