Sept. 30, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Battling weather and 14 ranked foes between the two blue races, the Notre Dame women's and men's cross country squads placed fifth and 11th, respectively, at the 56th annual Notre Dame Invitational.
Runners fought through tough conditions all day, as temperatures dipped into the high 40s and winds blew at 20-30 MPH, with top gusts reaching 40 MPH and above. Due to severe rain in the area over the last week, the course was extremely wet, with soft spots throughout. The meet started out with ominous clouds and small showers and ended with sunny skies.
Junior Jessica Rydberg paced the Irish women for the third meet in a row, placing 25th out of 225 runners in the women's 5K blue race to help Notre Dame to a fifth-place finish out of 28 teams. The Irish defeated two ranked foes in No. 22 Princeton and No. 29 BYU.
"It wasn't a perfect race by any means, but our team found a way to put something together and place well," said women's head coach Tim Connelly. "Hopefully they gained some confidence and learned that they can run with the best."
Four ranked teams claimed the race's top four spots, as No. 7 Florida State won the race, followed by No. 18 Arkansas, No. 2 New Mexico and No. 28 Penn State.
SMU's Silje Fjortoft (16:54) won the individual title.
On the men's side, the No. 23 Irish finished 11th out of 26 teams. J.P. Malette paced Notre Dame, placing 41st in 24:51. Following behind Malette were sophomores Martin Grady (53rd, 24:56) and Walter Schafer (68th. 25:10), junior Jeremy Rae (73rd, 25:11) and senior Kelly Lynch (86th, 25:19).
No. 14 BYU won the race, followed by No. 10 Florida State, No. 12 Princeton and No. 3 Stanford. Also finishing in the top 10 were No. 21 New Mexico and No. 26 Eastern Kentucky. The Irish did defeat No. 25 Ohio State, besting the Buckeyes by one spot.
"Today wasn't our best race," said men's head coach Joe Piane. "We have to learn to be more aggressive. Even though we finished 11th, we still may have earned some at-large points, which will help us towards our goal of qualifying for the NCAA Championships."
The third race of the day saw three members of the Irish women's team place in the top ten in the 5K open race. Senior Allison Schroeder (18:21) led the charge for Notre Dame, finishing third. Junior Angela Ryck (18:29) followed closely behind in sixth place, while freshman Katherine Stultz (18:36) claimed ninth place.
In the second race of the day, the Notre Dame men placed seventh in the gold division five-mile race, finishing behind ranked teams Grand Valley State (No. 3, Div. II), North Central College (No. 1, Div. III), Calvin College (No. 4, Div. III) and No. 15 Wisconsin-Oshkosh (No. 15, Div. III).
Senior Zac Suriano was the top finisher for the Irish finishing 24th in 25:41.
Windsor's Matt Walters (24:54) won the individual title.
In the first race of the day, Grand Valley State (No. 4, Div. II) cruised to the women's gold division team title on the strength of three top-five finishes on the 5K course. Northwestern's Audrey Huth (17:29) won the individual crown.
The Irish return to action in two weeks when they head to Madison, Wis., for the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 14.