Sep 6, 2013
VALPARAISO, Ind. - On a warm, but beautiful day in Valparaiso, Ind., the University of Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams kicked off the 2013 season with impressive individual victories at the Crusader Open as sophomore Sydni Meunier won the women's title, while senior Patrick Lesiewicz claimed the men's crown at Sunset Hills Park.
The women's squad saw their first six runners cross the finish line before an opposing competitor as the Irish earned an easy victory over the host Valparaiso Crusaders and Western Michigan Broncos. Notre Dame totaled just 15 points to 61 for Valpo and 63 for WMU.
The team victory was the first for the Irish since 2010 and the seventh overall since Notre Dame began racing at the event in 1999.
Leading the charge for Notre Dame was Meunier, who claimed the 5K victory in 17:57.7. Meunier is just the sixth Irish female to win the race and the first since Theresa Cattuna in 2009.
Juniors Emily Frydrych (2nd - 18:09.7) and Karen Lesiewicz (3rd - 18:10.8) followed Meunier. Senior McKinzie Schulz placed fourth (18:17.8), while freshmen Elli Brady (5th - 18:22.8) and Gabrielle Thivierge (6th - 18:23.7) closed out the top six for the Irish.
"The team did a really good job of doing what we talked about before the race," said women's head coach Tim Connelly. "We went out slow and conservative and then just went at the 1K mark. After what I have seen in practice the last couple of weeks I was expecting them to compete really well and they did just that."
The men's squad claimed second for the third consecutive year after losing to IUPUI by just a single point - 28-27.
Lesiewicz became the eighth Irish men's runner to capture the Crusader Open crown and the first since Paul Springer in 2010. The Schaumburg, Ill., native completed the 6K course in 19:11.8 and was joined in the top five by fellow Irish competitors Scott Milling (3rd - 19:20.7) and Kevin Durham (5th - 19:35.7).
"We had some individuals run very well," said men's head coach Joe Piane. "Lesiewicz and Milling were impressive, Kevin Durham is coming around after missing his freshman cross country season, John (Riely) ran the best race he has at ND and Nick (Laureano) put nose in there and was really competitive.
"Patrick (Lesiewicz) sat in the group the entire race and then took the lead the last 800 meters to claim the victory. I was very pleased with how he ran tonight."
Notre Dame returns to action in two weeks when it plays host to the 34th annual National Catholic Championships Friday, Sept. 21 at the Notre Dame Golf Course.
For more information on the Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams follow UND.com, Facebook (Facebook.com/NDXCTF) and Twitter (@NDXCTF).
Women's Results (33 Total Runners)
Men's Results (27 Total Runners)
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director