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Irish cross country teams to compete at Joe Piane Invitational

The Irish men’s and women’s cross country teams will return to action this Friday at the Joe Piane Invitational, their biggest home meet of the season. The Irish have competed in a couple of smaller meets this year, but Friday’s meet will be the first larger meet with some high-caliber competition.

Because of the competitiveness of the invite, head coach Matt Sparks is racing the majority of his top runners on Friday. The one notable runner that will not be racing is sophomore Josh Methner, who Sparks said will debut in a couple of weeks.

“[Methner]’s had a bit of a slow start to the season,” Sparks said. “He just needs another couple of weeks, and we will see him debut at Wisconsin. With his absence, it will force some other guys to step up as well.”

The men will look to fill the shoes of former All-Americans Yared Nuguse, Dylan Jacobs and Danny Kilrea, who all graduated last year. Sparks hopes that a leader will emerge on Friday.

“We have a lot of talent behind them, but we need to figure out who is going to establish themselves as the leader when it comes to racing,” Sparks said.

Sparks mentioned three men who he expects to step up on Friday.

“[Sophomore] Carter Solomon and [junior] Tom Seitzer are two guys that competed well last spring for us and have looked great in practice and been great leaders in practice. Those are guys that we would like to see run up front for us,” Sparks said. “[Senior] Matthew Carmody is a veteran on the team that has competed at the national level for us previously. We are confident that he can find his way back to the front of the group.”

Sparks is also looking forward to seeing freshman Izaiah Steury race this weekend.

“We are confident in Izaiah, who will be the only freshman running in uniform this weekend on either side,” Sparks said. “He has had a great first month of practice, so we are going to take the redshirt off of him. I expect him to be another one of those guys to establish himself as a leader.”

Steury is part of an Irish recruiting class that is arguably the best in the nation. Sparks mentioned freshman Ethan Coleman, who is not running on Friday, as another runner with potential.

“Ethan has had a great preseason of training and could potentially earn a roster spot and compete for us this year,” Sparks said. “[Steury and him] are really the two that have really stepped up. They have both come from very good training backgrounds in high school.”

Sparks said he understands that despite the great freshman recruiting class, it might take some time for those recruits to pay dividends.

“We arguably have the best freshman recruiting class in the country, but it takes a year or two to see that recruiting class play out with the exception of Izaiah, who is ready to put his uniform on right now and lead us into battle,” Sparks said.

On the men’s side, there will be plenty of competition for the 14th-ranked Irish with 24th-ranked Butler, 25th-ranked Alabama, and 27th-ranked Michigan competing.

On the women’s side, the Irish are led by two veteran runners in graduate student Maddy Denner and junior Olivia Markezich. Sparks hopes that the women’s team can establish depth behind their two stars.

“We have a very veteran group led by two All-American leaders in Maddy Denner and Olivia Markezich,” Sparks said. “We are looking to just establish our depth in our top seven. We are going to run a strong group of five women, but we aren’t sure how strong we will be in the six-seven spots. We are hoping to find some more depth on the women’s end of the roster.”

The eighth-ranked Irish women will face a very difficult test on Friday. Defending national champions and top-ranked North Carolina State, third-ranked New Mexico, and tenth-ranked Alabama are all competing.

Sparks said he was for both of his teams to compete at the elite level this season.

“There have been a great group of guys and women training really well this fall, but when it’s time to compete on the elite level, this will be the first time this year that either team has had elite level competition,” Sparks said. “It will be exciting to see who takes on the leadership responsibilities for both genders.”

Sparks said he plans to use Friday’s meet as another building block to the postseason, which begins in four weeks with the ACC Championships.

“It’s great to have a home meet building towards the postseason,” Sparks said. “The month of September is very comfortable for us as far as training and building towards the postseason. This is really our first competitive opportunity. It’s a little bit of a pretest for the postseason run to see where we are today.”

The Irish will have one more meet between Friday’s race and the conference meet.

“Each meet kind of builds on the previous, and each meet gets a little bit more competitive. This is the first meet with some elite teams coming to our home course to race. And then we will head to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks in a little bit more of an elite field compared to the Joe Piane Invite,” Sparks said.

The women’s 5000m race will begin at the Burke Golf Course at 10:30 am. The men’s 5-mile race follows at 11:15 a.m.

Contact Nate Moller at nmoller2@nd.edu.

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Irish cross country dominates, Belles battle at National Catholic Invite

Notre Dame cross country swept Friday’s National Catholic Invite, with both the women’s and men’s teams winning handily in their home opener. A field of 15 Catholic institutions from around the country (14 in the men’s race) was no match for the nationally ranked Irish squads, both of whom won by over 50 points.

The afternoon meet began with the women’s race, which saw several top Irish runners make their season debut. The No. 6 Irish got into a strong position right off of the opening gun, with a pack of five Notre Dame runners behind Loras runner Kassie Parker, the defending Division III individual national champion. The top six runners were on their own for a majority of the race, with an advantage of nearly thirty seconds over the rest of the competition.

Over the course of the race, the Irish runners fought to close the gap, but Parker never relinquished the lead as she crossed the finish line first in a time of 17:02.1, a school record and a huge PR in the 5k. From there, it was all Irish, as six Notre Dame runners in a row followed Parker. Junior All-American Olivia Markezich finished in second in 17:13.0 and was closely followed by senior Katie Thronson and sophomore Sonia Chisholm (who ran unattached), a pair of transfers who provided strong performances in their Irish debuts.

Notre Dame sophomore Erin Strzelecki earned fifth place and graduate student Anna Sophia Keller and freshman Sophie Novak took sixth and seventh to complete the Irish’s front pack. Of the Irish’s first six finishers, all but Novak — who took third at the Winrow-Valparaiso Invite earlier in the year — were racing for the first time this season as a team expected to contend for ACC and national championships began to show its strength.

Saint Mary’s made the short trip to Notre Dame’s Burke Golf Course to compete and the Belles ran well against a competitive field, finishing in fourteenth place. Belles head coach Jackie Bauters praised the team’s performance after the meet, especially given the extremely warm conditions.

“Overall, I feel like we ran well,” Bauters said. “Some people had PRs today, some people had season bests, and I feel like we ran tough. It was hot for everybody, and I think it’s hard to perform for some people in the heat. I was really happy that we had a lot of good packs and pairs.”

Saint Mary’s was led by sophomore Amanda Tracy, who finished seventy-first with a time of 20:20. The other four scorers all came in within a ten second period. Senior Anna Demars took 80, sophomore Susanna Bernovich was 84 and in 86 and 87 were freshman Isabelle Auch and senior Angela Bannan.

Bauters emphasized the importance of the runners staying close together and pushing each other, especially in a meet against unfamiliar opponents where it can be difficult to gauge position against the rest of the field.

“We don’t compete against any of these teams otherwise during the year, so it’s not something where we’re trying to be super competitive with a [specific] team,” Bauters said. “We really wanted to see our packs continue to work together and we did that today.”

As Saint Mary’s shifts their attention to the NCAA Division III Preview meet in two weeks, they will look to build on this effort while working hard in order to reach the next level.

“We have to get more comfortable in that second mile,” Bauters explained. “I think that’s where, mentally and physically, it just drops off. We’re going to be working to get them uncomfortable for a while so they can get more comfortable [during races].”

The men’s race was next, and the No. 13 Irish were in a class of their own from start to finish as they took each of the top ten places for the second meet in a row, having also accomplished this feat at Valparaiso in early September. Just like the women’s team, the Notre Dame lineup featured several top runners in their first appearances of the season. One of those runners, sophomore Carter Solomon, took home the victory, finishing the five-mile course in 24:35.0. Freshman Izaiah Steury, coming off of a win in his first ever college race at Valparaiso, pushed Solomon all the way to the line and finished in a close second (24:39.7).

The seemingly endless string of Notre Dame runners continued, as the Irish put eight more across the line before there was a single finisher from an opposing team. Junior Carter Cheeseman finished in third, and senior Matthew Carmody and sophomore Ryan Schumacher were hot on his heels to seal the perfect score.

Up next for Notre Dame is their final home meet of the season, the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite on Sept. 30. The Irish will be put to the test as the meet is expected to bring one of the deepest and most talented fields of any regular season meet in the country this year. On Oct. 1, Saint Mary’s will head to Olivet College, the site of this year’s Division III National Championship, for the Division III Preview meet.

Contact Matthew Crow at mcrow@nd.edu.

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Irish cross country prepares to host National Catholic invite

Notre Dame cross country will serve as host for the National Catholic Invite on Friday afternoon at Burke Golf Course. The Invite will be the home opener for the Irish. Both the men’s and women’s squads will be heavy favorites coming into a meet that the program has historically dominated as they look to build on season-opening victories. The meet will feature a field of 16 Catholic institutions, several of which are located in the Midwest region. The women’s race is a 5K, while the men’s race will be five miles.

The Notre Dame men’s team enters the meet ranked No. 13 nationally after taking each of the top ten places in a strong showing at the Winrow-Valparaiso Invite. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that the Irish were not at full strength for the race. They rested several of their top athletes to provide experience for a talented but youthful group of underclassmen. These runners will be counted on to play major roles for the team during this season and beyond.

Given the opportunity to impact Notre Dame’s team score, the highly touted group of Irish freshmen stepped up. Izaiah Steury won the race, Ethan Coleman finished in fourth, and several other freshmen placed in the top ten. Notre Dame’s more experienced runners also performed well. Juniors Carter Cheeseman and Jake Renfree and sophomore Robbie Cozean earned top-five finishes.

Friday’s meet will likely feature a similar lineup for the Irish men, as the team is unlikely to race its full top seven until closer to the postseason. At last year’s Catholic Invite, Notre Dame won the race handily, taking the top four positions and posting a near-perfect score of 16. Top finishers junior Tom Seitzer, Cozean, sophomore Carter Solomon and senior Quinn Gallagher all return. The Irish should once again put a large pack at the front of the field.

On the women’s side, the No. 6 Irish have similar goals for the Invite after a comprehensive opening-meet victory against competitive Purdue and Western Michigan teams. A more veteran team than the men, Notre Dame placed five in the top ten, led by graduate student Katie Ryan, who placed second. Freshmen Sophie Novak and Charlotte Turesson came in third and fifth, respectively. The Irish victory came without appearances from All-Americans graduate student Maddy Denner and junior Olivia Markezich, along with other returners who will begin racing later in the year.

The Notre Dame women enter the Catholic Invite as the 14-time solo defending champions. They’ll strive to make it fifteen and to match their performance from last year. Then, they earned a perfect score by taking each of the top five spots. Last year’s race was won by freshman Kate Wiser, who emerged from a strong pack of Notre Dame runners. That included a pair of returners on this year’s team along with Wiser – Denner, who finished as runner-up, and senior Katie Rose Blachowicz, who placed fourth. None of these three runners competed at Valparaiso earlier in September, so the Irish lineup will likely look quite different from last year’s in their quest to retain the title.

Saint Mary’s will also be in the women’s field, aiming to continue a strong start to the season in what will be their third meet. The Belles placed sixth at last weekend’s Calvin Knight invitational, competing against several nationally ranked Division II and III programs. Junior Amanda Tracy led the team in the 6k race with a 31st place finish. Sophomore Susanna Bernovich, freshman Isabelle Auch, and senior Angela Bannan finished as a pack behind Tracy in 48th, 49th, and 51st, respectively. Saint Mary’s finished in 13th place out of 15 teams in last year’s Catholic Invite. A 59th-place effort from Bannan paced the team. The Belles look to better that result on Friday.

Temperatures at race-time are expected to be in the mid-eighties. The warm conditions will test the toughness of the Irish in their final “tune-up” race before diving into the challenging slate of meets that the second half of the season will hold.

The National Catholic Invite will begin with the women’s race at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at Notre Dame’s Burke Golf Course. The men’s race will follow at 4:15 p.m., and the awards ceremony will be at 5 p.m.

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Notre Dame XC starts season at Winrow-Valparaiso Invite

Notre Dame cross country got its 2022 season underway on Friday, competing in the Winrow-Valparaiso Invite just 58.7 miles west of South Bend. The Fighting Irish are no strangers to the Valpo course, having opened the season there all but twice in the 21st century (2002 and 2020). Both the men’s and women’s teams – coming off top-10 finishes at the 2021 NCAA Championships – flexed their muscles with a sweep of this year’s invite, even with a host of new names leading the charge.

On the men’s side, a seventh consecutive Winrow-Valparaiso title may be just another feather in the cap. But Friday’s triumph is especially relevant to the program’s development. Much of Notre Dame’s success this fall will hinge upon its ability to replace the star-powered core of Dylan Jacobs, Danny Kilrea, and Yares Nuguse; the performance of ND’s highly-touted recruiting class provided a strong first step toward accomplishing that. Freshman Izaiah Steury, an Indiana native, took home 1st place with a time of 17:52.3 in the six-kilometer race.

Nine more Domers followed in a pack to paint the top ten blue and gold – junior Carter Cheeseman (17:52.9), sophomore Robbie Cozean (17:59.3), freshman Ethan Coleman (17:59.6), junior Jake Renfree (18:06.3), freshman Ryan Schumacher (18:07.3), freshman Gabe Hinrichs (18:11.8), freshman Daelen Ackley (18:22.6), and junior Henry Chapman (18:29.3). Chapman also competed in last season’s invite, and his 2022 time would have actually won what was a significantly slower race in 2021. The men’s team was rounded out by freshman Luke Schildmeyer, who checked in at 18:44.2 to claim 12th place as the Irish cleared Purdue by a whopping 49 points. 

The women’s team, returning several key pieces from a late-blooming 2021 team, reclaimed the invite crown from the Boilermakers after a second-place result last September. Graduate student Katie Ryan paced the squad with an 18:10.7 in the five-kilometer race, crossing the finish line behind only Makayla Perez of Western Michigan.

Behind her, a collection of Fighting Irish runners populated the top 20. Freshman Sophie Novak (3rd, 18:16.3), freshman Charlotte Turesson (5th, 18:22.0), freshman Molly Grant (7th, 18:39.0), freshman Elizabeth Schmidt (18:44.3), senior Emily Eberhart (11th, 19:05.0), freshman Paige Grant (14th, 19:17.8), sophomore Isalina Coleman (15th, 19:28.3), and junior Catherine Coffey (19th, 19:53.6) delivered Notre Dame it’s third women’s victory in the last four meets at Valparaiso.

The Irish topped Purdue by 19 points and Western Michigan by 26 to secure a golden start to 2022. Ryan, Eberhart, and Coffey all ran there last year too when the event was comparatively faster for the women (this year’s 2nd place time would have placed 9th at the 2021 invite).

After Friday’s meet, Notre Dame cross country is already a quarter of the way through its regular season schedule. Next up are two home contests – the National Catholic Invite on September 16, and the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite on September 30 – before a trip to Madison for the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite on October 14.

Tyler Reidy

Contact Tyler at treidy3@nd.edu

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Irish cross country aims high as new season begins

Entering the 2022 season, Notre Dame cross country finds itself in the unique position of having its men’s and women’s teams on divergent trajectories. Irish director of track & field and cross country Matt Sparks called the current state of the program “a tale of two teams,” with the men counting on underclassmen to take up new leadership roles in the midst of a transition period while the women return a veteran-laden lineup coming off of their most successful season in over a decade. The one constant, though, is that both teams appear to have all the necessary pieces to be among the nation’s best.

Men’s team looks to rebuild

The past three seasons were prosperous ones for the Notre Dame men, as the Irish claimed two ACC Championships and three consecutive top-ten NCAA Championship placements, including a runner-up finish in 2020. Those teams were built around an elite nucleus of Yared Nuguse and Dylan Jacobs, both individual national champions on the track, and Danny Kilrea, a three-time All-American. All three stars have now moved on, along with former men’s head coach Sean Carlson, and Notre Dame’s grasp as the class of the ACC is suddenly considerably less firm than it had been.

“The last two years, we’ve kind of been the clear-cut favorite [in the ACC],” Sparks, now coaching both the men’s and women’s teams, said. “Now it’s a bit of an open competition.” 

While that trio brought consistent excellence on the course, they leave just as gaping of a hole off it, having been the team’s “perennial captains and leaders” over the last three years.

“There’s a lot of leadership loss there,” Sparks said. “We’re still looking for someone to assert themselves as a leader off the course.”

The Irish believe that they have the personnel to fill the massive shoes of the graduating class, with senior Matthew Carmody and sophomore Josh Methner being counted on to carry the torch for this year’s team.

“From a competitive standpoint, Matthew Carmody and Josh Methner are the two guys that we expect to lead us come time to race,” Sparks said. “They could be great leaders for the team, but neither one of those guys … has had to step up and be a leader up until this point.”

There is no doubt that the pair have competition resumes worthy of being tasked with running up front for a national contender. Carmody has been named to numerous All-ACC teams and was a national qualifier in the 10000 meters in the spring, and Methner was an All-American in cross country during his freshman year. Sparks describes them as having “done some elite things” but never having the chance to “lead the charge,” an opportunity they will have this season.

Behind them is an extremely talented group, albeit one that is largely untested and unproven, new territory for the program as of recent years.

“We’re going to be counting on freshmen to run in our top five or seven,” Sparks said. “For the last two or three years, we’ve had a very veteran team and didn’t need to count on the newcomers to carry much weight for our success.”

Luckily, the Irish hauled in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes and early returns from practice indicate that the group will be ready to make an impact from day one.

“Traditionally, the freshmen haven’t been able to make the top seven, and part of it was that their fitness just wasn’t of that caliber to contribute,” Sparks said. “It’s still too early to tell who’s going to rise out of that group and be a contributing member, but it’s been fun because they’re all having a lot of success and are very ready for college running.”

With a young roster and many unknowns about who will emerge as the Irish’s top runners for the postseason, the regular season meets, beginning with this Friday’s Winrow-Valparaiso Invite, will provide a valuable opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the team.

“It’s going to be a fun next month to sort things out and let them compete,” Sparks said. “We travel to Valparaiso on Friday for what’s more of an exhibition type of competition, but then we’ve got the two home meets that follow where we’ll really be able to see who’s ready for elite Division I running and who needs some time to figure some things out.”

After the trip to Valparaiso, Notre Dame will host the National Catholic Invite and the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite in September and travel to Madison in October for the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite that will serve as the final tune-up before the postseason.

Despite the attrition, the Irish maintain aspirations of high finishes at the ACC and NCAA Championships and will work throughout the season to find the right combination of runners and ensure that they are ready to peak at the right time.

“Having a blend of a couple graduate students, a couple of third year, fourth year guys, and then sprinkle in a freshman or two, it will be a really diverse group,” Sparks said. “We just have to help those guys gel over the next six to eight weeks before we get to the conference meet.”

Women’s team seeks to continue last season’s success

Last year’s Notre Dame women’s team provides a clear example of what it looks like when a group finds its best form at just the right moment. It is uncommon to see a team follow up a fifth-place conference finish by placing fifth in the nation, but that is exactly what the Irish did.

The women’s team brings back a majority of their top seven from a group that earned the program’s highest NCAA Championship finish since 2004, and led by three key returners, they are highly motivated to go even further this year.

“Conversely from the men’s team, the women have a very veteran feel about who they are,” Sparks said, noting that he expects graduate student Maddy Denner, senior Katie Rose Blachowicz, and junior Olivia Markezich to provide strong performances for the team.

Denner and Markezich headlined an excellent team effort at the NCAAs, earning All-American honors with ninth and eleventh-place finishes, respectively, but for much of the season, this type of standout showing by the Irish seemed unlikely. While the team will still plan to be at its best for the national meet this year, Notre Dame will strive for more consistency throughout the season.

“We knew all along that we had that kind of talent but in the last three weeks [of the season], everything gelled to the point that fitness found confidence at the ideal time,” Sparks said. “We’re hoping to [reach] those objectives a little bit earlier, finding the intersection of those two pieces so that we can be more competitive at the conference meet.”

While the strong returning core merits high expectations on its own, the Irish will be joined by two transfers that are expected to immediately contribute, senior Katie Thronson and sophomore Siona Chisholm. Thronson was previously an All-SEC performer at Tennessee while Chisholm competed in Canada, and Sparks believes that they will help put Notre Dame “over the top.”

The Irish will use the coming weeks to give their younger runners more experience and move closer to determining the postseason lineup, and their first major test will come at the Notre Dame Invite. They will play host to three of the nation’s best teams in New Mexico, NC State, and Alabama. Unlike last year, the Irish hope to match up well with these other national contenders at this early stage in the season.

“Now that we’ve had [a top-five finish nationally] last fall under our belts, I think they’ll come out more sure of themselves come midseason,” Sparks said. “We’d like to be a little bit more competitive.”

Notre Dame’s fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championship last year came as a surprise to many. This season, they will not be sneaking up on anyone. The Irish are confident that another top national finish is on the way, and ready to deliver it.

Matthew Crow

Contact Matthew at mcrow@nd.edu

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ND Rankings in the ACC

Notre Dame Women’s Soccer 

Notre Dame women’s soccer completed the 2021 season with an ACC conference record of 7-3, good for a fourth seed in the ACC tournament. The team was eliminated in the first round of conference tournament play to the fifth-seeded Clemson Tigers. The Fighting Irish were able to ascend further in the Women’s College Cup, losing out in the round of 16. 

This year the Irish landed sixth in the 2022 preseason ACC coaches poll. An impressive performance in the 2021 NCAAs, coupled with a hot 4-0 start to the 2022 season, lends hope that Irish could advance to the semifinals or even the finals of the ACC tournament this season. To get there, Notre Dame will have to wade through a stiff field of ACC competition such as 2021 Women’s College Cup champions Florida State and 2022 ACC women’s soccer preseason favorite Duke.

Notre Dame sophomore Korbin Albert, possibly the most dynamic attacking midfielders in the ACC, is one player to look out for this season for the Irish. Last season Albert was awarded third team all-ACC honors and racked up 12 goals. This ranked second nationally amongst Division I freshmen. In August, she was named to the 2022 women’s soccer preseason all-ACC team.

Notre Dame Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame men’s soccer won their first ever ACC title last year in an impressive run that included the defeat of Louisville on penalties in the quarterfinals and the shutout of Duke in the championship round. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish went on to fall to the Clemson Tigers on penalties in the semifinals of the 2022 Men’s College Cup. 

In the ACC preseason coaches poll this year, Notre Dame men’s soccer earned one first place vote. The team is predicted to finish third in the ACC’s coastal division. Just off their 2021 NCAA victory, the Clemson Tigers were selected as the 2022 preseason ACC men’s soccer favorite. This season the Fighting Irish will hope to overcome the replacement of their top-two goal scorers with a returning core of young contributors. Don’t let Notre Dame’s home opener loss have you fooled; the team fell to 1-3-1 last season before making their stunning post season run. Expect the Fighting Irish to make a final four appearance in ACC tournament among 2022’s conference competition.

Returning as one of the top goalkeepers in the country, junior Bryan Dowd will be the anchor of the Fighting Irish defense this year. A Notre Dame postseason legend, Dowd secured six straight shutouts over the ACC and NCAA tournaments last season. Dowd stands alone as the only goalkeeper on the 2022 ACC preseason watch list. 

Notre Dame Cross Country

Last fall, Notre Dame hosted the 2021 ACC Cross Country championships. The Fighting Irish men captured their second consecutive ACC championship last season and will hope to win their fourth team title in five years in 2022. The Notre Dame’s women’s cross country grabbed a fifth-place finish at the ACCs in 2021. In seven of the past eight seasons, the Fighting Irish women have placed in the top five at the ACC championships. At the 2021 NCAA division I Cross Country Championships, the men’s team finished ninth and the women’s team finished fifth. Notre Dame men’s coach Sean Carlson earned his second consecutive ACC Men’s Coach of the Year award in 2021.

This season the Fighting Irish will host two meets in September, including The National Catholic Invitation on September 16th. Bank on both the men’s and women’s teams being strong contenders for ACC champions and top five finishers nationally. The 2022 ACC championships will be held in late October at Charlottesville, VA where the Syracuse men and NC State women are perennial contenders. The 2022 NCAA Cross Country Championships will take place in November at the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Keep an eye on senior Olivia Markezich this year as she comes off an All-American season in 2021 and an 11th place finish at the NCAA championship. All-American returners for the men include senior Jake Renfree and junior Joshua Methner.

Notre Dame Volleyball

Forget about 2021, Notre Dame volleyball is looking to transition this year under new head coach Salima Rockwell. A three-time All-American at Penn State, Rockwell has filled three assistant volleyball coaching since arriving in South Bend. The Fighting Irish landed ninth in ACC’s 2022 preseason volleyball coaches pool. Louisville, who received ten first-place votes in the coaches poll, and Pitt, who received five first-place votes, are expected to be top contenders this season in the ACC. Notre Dame finished eighth last season in the ACC and Fighting Irish fans should hope to see the team finish in the top half of the conference in 2022. An invitation to the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament this season would be a step in the right direction for the Fighting Irish.

A key returning player for Notre Dame is junior libero Hattie Monson. In the 2021-2022 season Monson played in all 103 sets for the Fighting Irish and led the team with 407 digs. Monson was honored as member the ACC All-Freshman team in 2020 and as a member of the ACC All-Academic team in 2020 and 2021. SMU transfer Kaylyn Winkler is another name to look out for this season for Notre Dame Volleyball. Winkler led the AAC with a .384 hit percentage in 2021 and led her team, the Mustangs, with 114 blocks. The Irish will also hope to see leaders emerge among the five freshmen welcomed to the team for the 2022 season.

Peter Breen

Contact Peter at pbreen2@nd.edu.