Irish distance runner becomes first Notre Dame Woman to capture an NCAA individual title in track and field
A profile on legendary Notre Dame track and cross country coach as he prepares to retire after 39 seasons.
Piane departs following second-longest tenure of any coach in Notre Dame athletics history.
Latest in a series, offering an inside look at some of the meaningful items that line the walls in the offices of Notre Dame's head coaches.
Don't let his quiet demeanor fool you. Longtime Notre Dame coach Tim Connelly has made a lasting impact on the women's cross country and track distance runners over the past quarter-century.
AS A SENIOR: Returned to the dominant form that now has earned her a school-record-tying nine career All-America honors (men's distance runner Ryan Shay won nine from 1999-2002) and four school records ... made her cross country debut at the Notre Dame Invitational, finishing second to teammate Stephanie Madia in 16:39 ...took 20th overall (20:43) at the Pre-National Meet, leading Irish to runner-up team finish ... was second at the BIG EAST Championship (her fourth top-five finish in as many seasons), covering the 6,000-meter course in 20:52 for her fourth career all-conference cross country accolade ... ran extremely well at the Great Lakes Regional, placing third overall in 21:04.5 (her third top-three finish in as many regional appearances; missed 2004 with an injury) ... earned her third cross country All-America citation at the NCAA Championship, taking 15th overall in 20:13 to help the Irish team finish seventh (its fourth consecutive top-10 national placement) ... did not compete during the indoor track season ... resumed competition during the outdoor campaign, posting a number of top finishes ... ran 15:54.41 over 5,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational, placing fourth ... took third in an international 5,000-meter field at the Mount SAC Relays, running 15:40.41 to established the fourth-best mark in school history (behind three others of her own) and the top collegiate mark of the 2006 season; the performance also qualified her for not only the NCAA Mideast Regional, but also the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship ... posted another regional qualifying mark at the Hillsdale Gina Relays, running the 1,500 meters in 4:22.31 to win the competition ... won the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter titles at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championship, giving her five career conference titles (four individual), and making her just the second woman (fifth runner overall) in BIG EAST history to pull off the 5K/10K double victory (Villanova's Carole Zajac did it in 1993) ... the 10,000-meter race was particularly notable as she competed at that distance for the first time in her college career, clocking a school- and BIG EAST-record 32:27.87 to outduel Providence's Mary Cullen while once again qualifying for both the Mideast Regional and USATF Outdoor Championship (the 10K mark also was the top time of the national collegiate season) ... named the BIG EAST Outstanding Track Performer for her efforts at the conference's outdoor meet ... won the NCAA Mideast Regional 5,000-meter title for the third time in as many tries (2003, 2004, 2006 -- missed 2005 with injury) behind a time of 16:24.51, claiming a spot in the NCAA Championship ... named USTFCCCA (U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association) Great Lakes District Track Athlete of the Year ... ran 16:07.44 in the NCAA 5,000-meter preliminaries to advance to the finals as the second-fastest qualifier ... wound placing second in the nation and earning All-America honors with a time of 16:05.93 in the final; her second-place showing was the best in any event by a Notre Dame female track & field athlete at the NCAA Championship level ... placed ninth in the 5,000 meters at the USATF Outdoor Championship (15:44.66), putting an end to a very successful year ... has one year of track eligibility remaining for 2006-07 season.
AS A JUNIOR: One of the frontrunners on sixth-ranked Notre Dame women's cross country team ... runner-up at the Notre Dame Invitational, covering the Irish home course in 16:31 and helping the team to a third-place finish ... had a third-place showing at the Pre-National Meet (6,000 meters, 20:29) ... earned all-BIG EAST honors at the BIG EAST Championship, finishing fifth in 20:16 ... battled injury in the latter part of the season, skipping the NCAA Great Lakes Regional ... showed her commitment to the team by running at the NCAA Championship despite not being fully healthy ... ran 21:13 for 40th place, helping the team to a fourth-place finish and its second team trophy in three years ... earned all-BIG EAST honors at the BIG EAST Indoor Championship with a second-place effort in the 5,000 meters (16:12.17) ... did not compete during the outdoor track season due to injury.
AT THE 2004 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS: Established herself as one of the top talents in collegiate distance running by finishing seventh in the finals of the 5,000 meters at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif. ... posted the top finish by a collegiate/non-professional athlete in the field ... finished the race in 15:37.92 after running 15:47.15 in the preliminaries.
AS A SOPHOMORE: Became the most decorated female athlete (in terms of All-America honors) in Notre Dame history in just her second season ... brought home four All-America honors (cross country, indoor 3,000 meters, indoor 5,000 meters, outdoor 5,000 meters) to push her career total to seven ... the 2003 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Runner of the Year after winning her first regional individual title (and helping the Irish finish first as a team) ... finished third at the NCAA outdoor meet in the 5,000 meters, matching JoAnna Deeter (10,000 meters, 1999) for the highest individual finish for a Notre Dame female athlete at an NCAA track and field meet ... won her second consecutive NCAA Mideast Regional 5,000-meter crown and has the distinction of winning the only two ever competed (the NCAA switched to regional competition for the outdoor season in 2003) ... began the 2003 cross country season with a victory in the Notre Dame Invitational (17:12) ... moved on to finish 10th in the Pre-National Meet ... claimed her second straight all-BIG EAST finish at the conference cross country championship, finishing third to lead Notre Dame to its second consecutive team title ... won the NCAA Great Lakes Regional individual title (after finishing second in `02) and led Notre Dame to the meet title once again ... affected by a virus during the NCAA Championship, finishing 41st overall to earn her second straight All-America honor and help Notre Dame finish 10th - the team's second consecutive top-10 finish at the national meet ... finished no lower than third (save for the NCAA Championship) in each race she competed during the 2004 indoor season ... won the 3,000 meters in a school-record and personal-best 9:08.60 at the Meyo Invitational ... claimed her first BIG EAST individual track and field title in the 5,000 meters, running a school-record 15:57.22 ... earned all-BIG EAST honors with a third-place finish in the 3,000 meters at the conference indoor meet ... helped the distance medley relay team (Lauren King, Kerry Meagher, Kristen Dodd) qualify for the NCAA Championship with a 11:07.94, second-place effort at the Meyo Invitational ... was spectacular at the NCAA Indoor Championship, finishing third in the 5,000 meters (15:58.42) and seventh in the 3,000 meters (9:13.67) ... became the first Irish women's athlete to earn two All-America honors at the NCAA indoor meet ... focused on the 5,000 meters during the 2004 outdoor season ... began the season with a school-record effort at the Mount SAC Relays, finishing eighth in 15:32.55 ... moved on to finish first in the 5,000 meters at the BIG EAST Championship (her second individual title of the year) and the NCAA Mideast Regional ... took third place in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA outdoor meet, finishing the race in 16:25.44 ... also competed in the 1,500 meters during the outdoor season and contributed points toward the team effort at the BIG EAST outdoor meet by finishing sixth ... ran a personal-best 4:20.47 in the 1,500 meters at the Georgia Tech Invitational.
AS A FRESHMAN: Enjoyed one of the top rookie campaigns in Notre Dame women's cross country/track and field history ... 2003 U.S. Junior National 3,000-meter champion ... earned three All-American certificates during her freshman season ... key member of Notre Dame's third-place effort at the 2002 NCAA Championship, the highest finish in women's cross country history ... began the cross country season with a team-best fourth-place effort at the Notre Dame Invitational ... finished seventh in the Pre-National meet ... helped the Irish women win their first BIG EAST cross country championship with a second-place effort (behind teammate Lauren King) to earn all-BIG EAST honors ... top finisher for the team at the Great Lakes Regional, finishing second ... also the top team finisher at the NCAA Championship, finishing sixth overall to earn her first career All-America honor ... the sixth-place effort is the second-highest at the NCAA Championship (JoAnna Deeter finished third in 1996) ... won her first collegiate track and field race, placing first in the 3,000 meters against Western Michigan and Ball State ... set the school record in the 3,000 meters at the Meyo Invitational, finishing second in 9:14.33 ... just missed out on her first individual BIG EAST title in the 3,000 meters at the league indoor meet, finishing second in 9:18.24 ... member of the BIG EAST Champion distance medley relay team, which won in a meet-record 11:24.45, along with teammates King, Tricia Floyd and Megan Johnson ... moved on to the NCAA Championship in the 3,000 meters, earning All-America honors with a ninth-place finish (9:20.30) ... concentrated on the 5,000 meters during most of the 2003 outdoor season ... placed fifth in the 5,000 meters at the Mount SAC Relays, running a season-best 15:36.95 ... competed in the 1,500 meters at the Stanford Invitational, finishing sixth in 4:20.50 ... won her first BIG EAST individual title at the league's outdoor meet, placing first in the 5,000 meters (15:58.51) ... followed up with a victory in the 5,000 meters at the inaugural NCAA Mideast Regional, out-running an elite field to finish in 16:12.81 ... made the trip to the NCAA Championship for the 5,000 meters and finished third in her preliminary heat (16:18.21) ... ended up fourth in the NCAA finals of the 5,000 meters, claiming her third All-America certificate of the year in 15:55.90 ... ran away with the U.S. Junior National 3,000-meter title at the yearly competition in Palo Alto, Calif., crossing the finish line in 9:19.52, a full 25 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL: Twice earned All-America honors in outdoor track and field (one and two mile runs), while also garnering All-America recognition in indoor track and field and cross country as a senior ... did not start running cross country until her senior year because high school did not have a team ... ran as one-runner team in 2001 with her father as coach ... was undefeated in cross country during regular season, winning conference, regional and state titles ... set 12 course records ... finished fourth at 2001 FootLocker National Cross Country Championships ... two-time outdoor track conference, regional and state champion ... won Nike Indoor Classic (one mile) and adidas Outdoor Championships (two mile) as a senior, setting a meet record in the former event (4:46) ... established new national high school record in outdoor two-mile run (10:01) ... owns New York state outdoor 3,000-meter record (9:21) ... four-sport standout at Notre Dame High School in Elmira, N.Y. ... also lettered her junior year in basketball and soccer ... member of National Honor Society ... born Aug. 31, 1984 in Elmira, N.Y. ... daughter of Kathleen and Robert Huddle ... third of four children ... father, Robert, is a 1969 Notre Dame graduate ... uncle, Tim, is a 1976 Notre Dame graduate ... graduated in May 2006 from College of Science with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences ... currently pursuing graduate studies at Notre Dame.