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WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: New runners vie for five positions

Chris Khorey | Thursday, August 17, 2006

In the process of reloading a squad that lost five of its top seven runners to graduation after last season, Notre Dame coach Tim Connelly brought five freshmen distance runners to bolster his roster.”There are some of them that we think can contribute right away,” Connelly said of his class of 2010, which starts practice with the team Aug. 21.Last season, then-freshman Ramsey Kavan burst on the scene, finishing No. 11 in the Notre Dame Invitational in her first collegiate race and holding down the team’s fourth position for most of the season.This year, Connelly said he has three runners that may make an immediate impact – Molly Sullivan of Elmhurst, Ill., Beth Tacl of St. Cloud, Minn. and Lindsay Ferguson of Greenfield Center, N.Y.Ferguson holds the national high school record for the 2,000-meter steeplechase and ran the second-fastest high school time in the nation in the 3,000 meters during indoor track season last fall. “She’s a pretty talented kid and a really good competitor, so we’re counting on her to make an impact right off the bat,” Connelly said of Ferguson.Sullivan spent most of the summer nursing an injury, but Connelly said he expects her to be ready when practice starts.”She’s a little behind, but we think she’ll catch up quickly,” Connelly said.Dominique Taylor (Gary, Ind.) and Maria Analisa Sandoval (Los Alamos, N.M.) will also practice with the team, although Connelly said they most likely will be training for track season and are not expected to compete in meets. Both will compete in middle distances for the Irish track team in the winter and spring.Connelly said Taylor and Sandoval may compete in cross country down the road.”We’ve had a bunch of kids over the years that have taken a few years before they were ready to contribute at cross country, but once they’ve gotten out on the cross country course, they’ve been great,” he said.Connelly sent each of the runners detailed instructions for their summer work outs last May.”We set a mileage goal and then move up to it,” he said. “When we get close to the goal we start adding speed and tempo workouts as well.””What we want them to do and what they do are sometimes two different things,” he said. “Usually after their freshman year they’ll have a much better idea of what we want them to do. More than anything, over the summer we just want them to be really diligent and train really consistently.”Still, Connelly said his most important expectation for incoming freshmen over the summer is that they work hard.”If they train consistently, they’ll probably be ready for what we ask them to do when they get here,” he said.The Irish open their season Sept. 8 at the Valparaiso Invitational in Valparaiso, Ind.