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Cross Country: Women finish 23rd in country

Molly Sammon | Thursday, May 13, 2010

Although both the men’s and women’s cross country teams started out the 2009 season with back-to-back first places in their first two meets, the end of the season produced different results for the two squads.

The Irish competed in seven meets during the fall, including two at home — the National Catholic Invitational and the Notre Dame Invitational. The two squads mirrored each other several times during the season, finishing in first place at the National Catholic Invitational while falling to sixth at the Big East championships.

A first-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet clinched a spot for the women to race at the NCAA Championships, where the Irish finished 23rd out of 31 teams.

“Our goal every year is to get to the NCAA meet, and from that perspective it was definitely a successful year,” Irish women’s coach Tim Connolly said. “The highlight of this season was winning the regional meet.”

Senior Lindsey Ferguson finished 30th overall, earning All-American honors.
Including Ferguson, a total of five seniors will be graduating, leaving behind quite a legacy for the underclassmen to carry on. Beth Tacl, Molly Sullivan, Analisa Sandoval and Dominique Taylor will be moving on from Notre Dame, passing over their leadership to the four juniors on the team.

“I think that we are all feeling very excited about the team next year,” freshman Jessica Rydberg said. “If we are able to keep everyone healthy and we can all get a solid summer of training, then the outlook for the next cross country season looks great.”

A seventh-place finish for the men’s squad at the Great Lakes Region was not enough to qualify for a spot at the NCAA Championships, a meet they had been preparing for all season. Nevertheless, senior Jake Walker qualified for the individual competition with a ninth-place finish and all-region honors. Walker finished 129th at the NCAA meet.

Along with Walker, Blake Choplin, Daniel Clark, Cameron Eckert, Jack Howard, James Notwell and Brier Steenberge will be graduating. The seven seniors led the Irish to season opening victories at Valparaiso and in the National Catholic Invitational.

“It was an average year at best,” Irish men’s coach Joe Piane said. “We performed pretty well, especially at the National Catholic meet where we dominated, but beyond that it was somewhat of a disappointing year. We’re not prepared yet because of track, but we will be when the time comes.”