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ND CROSS COUNTRY: Notre Dame hopes to bomb Big East in Bronx

Chris Khorey | Friday, October 28, 2005

After not venturing outside the state of Indiana during its first four meets this season, Notre Dame will travel to Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx, New York this weekend for the Big East Championships.

The No. 5 Irish men, who the won the conference last year by one point over current No. 9 Georgetown, are looking to get a boost from their second-place finish at the Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. Oct. 15.

“We know Georgetown is going to be out there and we know Providence is going to be out there,” runner Patrick Smyth said. “We just have to get out there and run like we’ve been running and try to get as many people in the top 15 as we can.”

Smyth said that although the Irish and Hoyas competed in separate races in Terre Haute, the Irish had a better time.

“We beat them at pre-[nationals],” Smyth said. “We were in different races, but if you scored [pre-nationals] as one meet we would have beaten them.”

For the No. 4 women, this year’s Big East Championships represent an opportunity to earn redemption after they were upset by Providence last year. The No. 16 Friars will once again provide stiff competition for the Irish.

Women’s head coach Tim Connelly will send a familiar lineup to the course. All-Americans Stephanie Madia and Molly Huddle will probably be the front runners, with Sunni Olding and freshman sensation Ramsey Kavan close behind.

As with previous meets, the fifth spot will be a question mark for the Irish. Jean Marinangeli was the fifth runner for Notre Dame at the pre-nationals, but she finished No. 76, 46 places behind Kavan.

The men will feature their veteran lineup for only the second time this season. The first time Kurt Benninger, Tim Moore, Kaleb Van Ort and Sean O’Donell ran together this season – the pre-national meet – the Irish took second place.

The Big East Championships represent the point in the season when the Irish traditionally start to look ahead to regionals and nationals. Moore believes with so many experienced runners, this year’s Notre Dame men are ready to make a run beyond the Big East. The team finished a disappointing No. 11 at last year’s NCAA Championships.

“We have high goals at nationals and we’ve learned from the disaster that was last year,” Moore said. “This year we’re a stronger team. We have basically the same top five back, although [Smyth’s] been helping out a little bit. We also have the bitter taste of screwing up at nationals last year and we’re a year stronger.”