ND WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Catholic schools set to run at Burke Memorial
Ryan Kiefer | Friday, September 16, 2005
Catholic college cross country supremacy will be on the line this afternoon when the Notre Dame women’s cross country team hosts the National Catholic Championships at Burke Memorial golf course.
The Irish, who are ranked third in the nation by Finishlynx/WICAA, have dominated the Catholic Championships, winning 11 of the last 13 races, including each of the last three.
Notre Dame will enter nine runners in the race, which begins at 4:15 p.m.
After running a number of underclassmen last weekend at Valparaiso, the Irish will add more experience to this afternoon’s lineup.
Coach Tim Connelly’s goal is much the same as last weekend’s. He hopes to get his younger runners more experience and build his team’s depth for later in the season.
Heading the lineup will be sophomore Sunni Olding, who earned All-America honors by finishing 32nd in the NCAA championship meet last fall.
Connelly explained his decision to run one of his top athletes in this afternoon’s meet.
“She needs a race, a confidence booster,” Connelly said. “She ended the track season injured so she’s a little behind. It will be good for the rest of kids to have Sunni running with them.”
Olding will be joined by veterans Elizabeth Webster, Jean Marinangeli and Loryn King. Marinangeli and Olding will be running their first races of the season, while King and Webster contributed to a third place finish at Valparaiso last weekend.
Ann Mazur, last weekend’s top finisher for the Irish, will join Becca Bauman, Amy Kohlmeier, Katie DeRusso and Julie Opet in rounding out the squad.
Last year’s individual champion at the Catholic Championships, Stephanie Madia, will not compete in the race this year.
She will continue training for later in the season with the rest of her Irish teammates.
Notre Dame’s success in the meet is a considerable accomplishment considering the large number of schools competing.
Thirty-five schools are expected to field teams this afternoon.
Connelly thought the large field may present some problems for his team at the race’s outset.
“The start could be a little hairy,” Connelly said. “It’s going to be tight getting to that first turn. They need to get out well to put themselves in good position. It should spread out quickly once the race gets going.”
Race strategy will be Connelly’s focus this afternoon.
Connelly said he is more concerned with how the Irish run today than with how fast they run.
He stressed the importance of getting out well together and staying together through the early part of the race.
Conditions are expected to be ideal for racing this afternoon, with the forecasted high in low 70s, a far cry from the 85-degree heat the Irish battled last weekend.
Connelly felt the weather, combined with his team’s familiarity with the surroundings, would give them an excellent opportunity to succeed today.
“It should be a lot more comfortable this weekend,” Connelly said. “The girls get to race at home in a low-key environment. When you are relaxed, often times you run well.”