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ND Cross Country: Ferguson leads Irish efforts

Laura Myers | Monday, October 6, 2008

Lindsay Ferguson wears small gold shamrock earrings for good luck every time she races. But if she keeps improving, she may not need to wear them anymore. Ferguson finished the three-mile course in 17:03, 28 seconds faster than her time on the same course at the Sept. 19 National Catholic Championships. The Irish hosted both races at the Notre Dame Golf Course. “Going into this race, you know it’s going to be fast because of the level of competition,” Ferguson said. Five of the men’s teams and eight of the women’s teams that competed Friday were ranked in the top 30 of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll.The women finished 11th of 23 teams, while the No. 27 Irish men tied for sixth with Florida. Florida State swept the two titles, with the No. 26 men’s team finishing first with 81 points and the No. 3 women’s team finishing with 88 points.Senior Patrick Smyth paced the men’s five-mile race for the first 3.5 miles before being overtaken. Smyth finished fifth with a time of 23:36.Sophomore Dan Jackson finished 34th for the Irish in 24:26, and sophomore Paul Springer and freshman Joe Miller finished 43rd and 44th, both with times of 24:32.For the women, sophomore Marissa Treece finished 38th with a time of 17:19 and freshman Rachel Velarde finished 54th in 17:34. The event was important for both teams to see what to expect of national competition, women’s head coach Tim Connelly said.”Our kids learned today what it was like to run at the national level,” he said. Ferguson said the team accomplished its goals at the race.”We beat the teams we needed to,” she said. “And we know what we’re going to expect later in the season.”Connelly said the team is right where it should be heading into more national races.”We’re not too far away from being pretty good,” he said. “You look in the runners’ eyes and you see that every single one of them felt they could have been five, 10 places higher. Hopefully they walk away from this with a desire to improve.”The men and women will compete Oct. 18 at the Pre-NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Ind.