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ND Cross Country: Notre Dame competes in Catholic Champs

By A.J. Godeaux | Friday, September 20, 2013


The top Notre Dame runners will get their first taste of competition today, when the Irish host the 34th annual National Catholic Championships at the Notre Dame Golf Course.

The Notre Dame men’s team has won the meet an astounding 23 times and has come away with the title all but two years since 1995.

The Irish women’s team has been almost as successful, winning the invitational 19 times. Despite Notre Dame’s past success, junior Jake Kildoo said the team’s primary focus this early in the season isn’t even on winning the meet.

“This meet is really a tune-up for our top runners,” junior Jake Kildoo said. “It lets us get our legs used to racing again. This meet will be all about learning to run together and learning how to better run as a team.”

With only 10 Division I teams in the 37-team field, the unique event pits teams from all over the competitive spectrum against each other. The meet starts with an open race featuring men and women racing together-albeit separate distances-another unique aspect of the National Catholic Championships. The 5K women’s championship follows the open race, and the men’s five-mile championship race caps the invitational.

On the men’s side, Kildoo said the Irish gameplan involves running a team race, especially considering the sloppy course conditions after this week’s rainy weather.

“We’d like to win the team race with a pack of five or so guys at the front,” Kildoo said. “It looks like it’s going to be sloppy, so we just want to worry about putting in a good, solid effort and staying together as a group.”

In Notre Dame’s first meet of the year, the Crusader Open, the Irish took both individual crowns, as senior Patrick Lesiewicz and sophomore Sydni Meunier claimed the men’s and women’s titles respectively. The Irish women also won the team title behind a top-six sweep, while the men’s team finished second behind Valparaiso.

Kildoo said the Irish take a different approach to the National Catholic Championships, particularly with the Notre Dame Invitational looming in two weeks.

“Unlike some other races, we’re training through this meet,” Kildoo said. “We’re not trying to break any records or anything wild, and we’ll be running on tired legs because of the training, but we’re all fit enough to run a good race. As a plus, we’ll be ready for when the Notre Dame Invitational comes around.”

The National Catholic Championships get underway with the open race at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Notre Dame Golf Course. The women’s and men’s championship races follow at 4:15 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. respectively.

Contact A.J. Godeaux at [email protected].