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Cross Country: Men finish fourth at ISU

Jay Fitzpatrick | Tuesday, October 24, 2006

For the second race in a row, the No. 12 Irish men were able to shock higher ranked teams in a big-time national meet, finishing fourth out of 36 in the Pre-National Meet Oct. 14 at Indiana State.

Notre Dame accumulated just 255 points in the race, better than five teams ranked ahead of the then-No. 21 Irish before the race – No. 9 BYU, No. 14 Michigan, No. 16 Virginia, No. 19 William and Mary and No. 20 Arizona State. The Irish finished behind only No. 5 Iona (100 points), No. 3 Stanford (106) and No. 25 Florida (217).

Senior Kurt Benninger (23:40) and sophomore Patrick Smyth (23:49) led Notre Dame across the line, finishing seventh and twelfth, respectively.

“It was good we ran together for about three-quarters of the race and went with a group,” Smyth said. “I kind of fell off a little bit, but we were both pretty high.”

Joining Notre Dame’s top two runners were juniors Jake Watson (24:23) and Brett Adams (24:50) and freshman Jake Walker (24:51). Of the Irish qualifiers, four set career-highs for an eight kilometer race while Smyth was a mere three seconds off his personal best set at the Notre Dame Invitational run Sept. 30.

Walker’s finish was especially impressive as it was the freshman’s first time in the team’s top-five lineup in his Notre Dame career.

“As a freshman stepping into that role, I think he’s going to be great and I think he’s going keep it moving,” Smyth said.

Despite the high finish, Smyth feels Notre Dame has the capability to do even better as the season continues.

“We have the Big East this Friday – we’re just going to keep rolling,” he said. “We had a real good training over fall break and we just keep rolling with it and hopefully the Big East goes well.”

The race was an important stepping stone for Notre Dame’s hunt for a national title because the NCAA championship next month will be run at the same course in Terre Haute.

The Irish women also competed in the Pre-National Meet, finishing tied with Indiana for 15th out of 36 teams in the six kilometer race with 441 points.

Defending national champion Stanford dominated the competition with a paltry 45 points, an incredible amount considering second-place Minnesota amassed 200.

Junior Sunni Olding was the only Notre Dame runner in the top 50 finishers of the meet, clocking in at 20:38 for 19th place. Next for the Irish was junior Julie Opet (21:15), followed by senior Ann Mazur (21:15), sophomore Heidi Rocha (21:49) and freshman Lindsey Ferguson (21:51).

After training during fall break and this coming week, the Irish return to action Friday at Boston College to compete for the Big East Championship.


uLiberty’s Josh McDougal won the men’s race with a final time of 23:14. Wake Forest’s Michelle Sikes took the top spot in the women’s race at 20:16.