Cross Country

Irish Cross Country Off To Crusader Open; Both Squads Earn Preseason Rankings
Junior Meg Ryan returns to the cross country course after missing the 2011 season with injury.
Junior Meg Ryan returns to the cross country course after missing the 2011 season with injury.

Aug. 30, 2012

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The 2012 Notre Dame cross country season will open on Friday in a manner that has become familiar to the Irish over the past decade: namely a one-hour trip west to Valparaiso's Crusader Open.

This will be the 10th consecutive season (and 13th time in 14 years) the Irish have kicked off the campaign at the event, which is in its 24th running in 2012. This year's version of the Crusader Open gets underway at 5 p.m. CT at Sunset Hills Farm in Valparaiso, Ind., with the 5K women's race, while the 6K men's challenge follows at 5:45.

Notre Dame has had great success in the meet in the past, with the Irish men winning the team crown six times in the last eight seasons and the women doing so four times in the past five trips.

On the individual side, only once since 1999 have the Notre Dame men failed to place a runner in the top three (2008, when Kevin Veselik led the team by finishing fifth), and likewise for the women (2005, Ann Mazur in sixth). Notre Dame has captured seven individual men's crowns and five individual women's titles since '99, including back-to-back first-place finishes by Jennifer Handley in 1999 and 2000. Paul Springer (2010) and Theresa Cattuna (2009) were the last Irish harriers to outdistance the field at the Crusader Open.

This contingent heading to Valparaiso this year will not include participants from ND's appearance in the NCAAs last year (of which there are 10 returnees, four men and six women), as coaches Joe Piane and Tim Connelly will utilize the Open to gain collegiate experience for some of the squads' younger members. Making their collegiate cross country debuts on the men's side will be freshmen John Riely and Josh O'Brien and sophomores Kevin Byrne and Johnny Fuller, while freshmen Jessica Balko, Sydni Meunier and Abbey Murphy and sophomore Karen Lesiewicz will do so on the women's side. Junior Meg Ryan will also make her return to the course after missing last season with an injury. A full list of Irish runners at this year's meet is included at the end of this release.



Joining Notre Dame at the event will be men's and women's teams from Purdue, Purdue Calumet (NAIA) and host Valparaiso.

Following the Crusader Open, Notre Dame returns home for the annual National Catholic Championships, held at the Burke Golf Course on campus on Sept. 14.


Notre Dame will head into its 2012 cross country season having received preseason recognition in the USTFCCCA's preseason coaches' poll released this week. The women open the campaign slotted 22nd, while the men start at 25th. It marks the first time since 2005 that both the men's and women's teams were ranked among the top 25 in the preseason polls. If the 2012 season ends anything like the 2005 one did, the Irish faithful will be might happy; the 2005 men's team finished in third at the NCAA Championships, tied for its highest finish at nationals since the 1957 squad won the school's lone national title in the sport, while the women's team placed seventh for its fourth consecutive top-10 finish.

Oregon sits atop the preseason women's poll despite receiving fewer first-place votes than second-ranked Washington, while defending champ Wisconsin opens as the front-runner on the men's side after claiming 10 of the 12 first-place votes.

The Notre Dame men have now earned a spot in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings in 12 of the last 13 seasons, while the women have now done so in eight of the past 11.

In addition to the national rankings, the 2012 ND squads each open the year fourth in their respective Great Lakes Region polls. The men trail Big Ten teams Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, with the women sitting behind Michigan, Michigan State and Toledo.


Notre Dame women's runners in 2012 Crusader Open (10)
Previous finishes at Crusader Open in parentheses
Jessica Balko, Fr.
Sydni Meunier, Fr.
Abbey Murphy, Fr.
Megan Heeder, So. (2011: 26th/81 runners 19:50.7)
Karen Lesiewicz, So.
Katie Moran, So. (2011: 41st/81, 20:18.7)
Katherine Stultz, So. (2011: 12th/81, 19:06.6)
Ryan Russ, Jr. (2010: 6th/46, 18:52.44; 2011: 42nd/81, 20:20.6)
Meg Ryan, Jr.
Angela Ryck, Sr. (2011: 38th/81, 20:11.0)

Notre Dame men's runners in 2012 Crusader Open (9)
Previous finishes at Crusader Open in parentheses
John Riely, Fr.
Josh O'Brien, Fr.
Kevin Byrne, So.
Johnny Fuller, So.
Jason Hoard, So. (2011: 6th/53 runners, 16:04.4)
Christopher Quinn, So. (2011: 11th/53, 16:22.4)
Patrick Lesiewicz, Jr. (2011: 3rd/53, 15:48.5)
DJ Thornton, Jr. (2011: 5th/53, 15:58.7)
Jeff MacMillan, Sr. (2011: 15th/53, 16:31.8)

Women's team finishes in Crusader Open (since 1999)
1999: 2nd/7 teams
2000: 1st/?
2001: 2nd/8
2002: Did not appear in meet
2003: 1st/7
2004: 3rd/6
2005: 3rd/8
2006: 2nd/7
2007: 1st/8
2008: 1st/6
2009: 1st/5
2010: 1st/5
2011: 2nd/6

Men's team finishes in Crusader Open (since 1999)
1999: 1st/9 teams
2000: 1st/?
2001: 1st/7
2002: Did not appear in meet
2003: 2nd/7
2004: 1st/4
2005: 1st/8
2006: 1st/6
2007: 1st/6
2008: 2nd/5
2009: 1st/4
2010: 1st/4
2011: 2nd/4

Top women's finishers in Crusader Open (since 1999)
1999: 1st, Jennifer Handley (18:00.27)
2000: 1st, Jennifer Handley (17:58)
2001: 2nd, Christi Arnerich (23:03)
2002: Did not appear in meet
2003: 1st, Jean Marinangeli (22:16)
2004: 3rd, Elizabeth Webster
2005: 6th, Ann Mazur (23:30)
2006: 3rd, Julie Opet (14:45)
2007: 3rd, Beth Tacl (19:07)
2008: 1st, Marissa Treece (17:42)
2009: 1st, Theresa Cattuna (18:25)
2010: 2nd, Susanna Sullivan (18:17.50)
2011: 2nd, Jessica Rydberg (18:04.9)

Top men's finishers in Crusader Open (since 1999)
1999: 1st, Marc Striowski (24:48)
2000: 1st, Luke Watson (25:08)
2001: 1st, Todd Mobley (25:17)
2002: Did not appear in meet
2003: 2nd, Brian Kerwin (25:13)
2004: 1st, Daniel Driscoll (25:30)
2005: 2nd, Chris Rodriguez (26:01)
2006: 3rd, Kevin McFadden (19:27)
2007: 1st, Chris Rodriguez (19:51)
2008: 5th, Kevin Veselik (19:48)
2009: 1st, Spencer Carter (19:16)
2010: 1st, Paul Springer (19:34.50)
2011: 3rd, Patrick Lesiewicz (15:48.5)


2012 USTFCCCA women's preseason national rankings
First-place votes in parentheses
1. Oregon (4)
2. Washington (5)
3. Georgetown (2)
4. Florida State (1)
5. Iowa State
6. Vanderbilt
7. Providence
8. Stanford
9. Syracuse
10. Villanova
11. Arkansas
12. Michigan
13. Colorado
14. Arizona
15. Princeton
16. Boston College
17. Michigan State
18. Virginia
19. Weber State
20. San Francisco
21. West Virginia
22. Notre Dame
23. Toledo
24. Oklahoma State
25. NC State
26. Texas
27. Minnesota
28. BYU
29. Wisconsin
30. Cornell

2012 USTFCCCA men's preseason national rankings
First-place votes in parentheses
1. Wisconsin (10)
2. Oklahoma State (1)
3. BYU (1)
4. Oklahoma
5. Colorado
6. Texas
7. Portland
8. Iona
9. Stanford
10. Florida State
11. NC State
12. Syracuse
13. Indiana
14. Georgetown
15. Texas A&M
16. Villanova
17. Northern Arizona
18. Minnesota
19. Michigan
20. Tulsa
21. Princeton
22. Oregon
23. Arkansas
24. New Mexico
25. Notre Dame
26. Washington State
27. Columbia
28. Georgia
29. Eastern Kentucky
30. UCLA

2012 USTFCCCA women's preseason Great Lakes Region rankings
1. Michigan
2. Michigan State
3. Toledo
4. Notre Dame
5. Wisconsin
6. Indiana
7. Butler
8. Ohio State
9. Ohio
10. Central Michigan
11. Xavier
12. Indiana State
13. Eastern Michigan
14. Miami (Ohio)
15. Dayton

2012 USTFCCCA men's preseason Great Lakes Region rankings
1. Wisconsin
2. Indiana
3. Michigan
4. Notre Dame
5. Michigan State
6. Ohio State
7. Butler
8. Marquette
9. Central Michigan
10. Eastern Michigan
11. Cincinnati
12. Indiana State
13. Purdue
14. Akron
15. Kent State

Notre Dame women, preseason national rankings since 1995
1995: 21st
1996: -
1997: -
1998: -
1999: 22nd
2000: -
2001: -
2002: 10th
2003: 3rd
2004: 4th
2005: 3rd
2006: -
2007: 27th
2008: -
2009: 29th
2010: 17th
2011: -
2012: 22nd

Notre Dame men, preseason national rankings since 1998
1998: 11th
1999: -
2000: 20th
2001: 5th
2002: 25th
2003: 18th
2004: 29th
2005: 7th
2006: 12th
2007: 13th
2008: 20th
2009: 27th
2010: -
2011: 23rd
2012: 25th


Event Calendar


September 2
5:30 PM
Crusader Open
Valparaiso, Ind. (Sunset Hills Farm)
September 16
3:30 PM
National Catholic
Notre Dame, Ind. (ND Golf Course)
September 30
2:00 PM
ND/Joe Piane Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind. (ND Golf Course)
October 14
12:00 PM
Wisconsin Adidas Invitational W
Madison, WI (Zimmer Championship Course)
October 14
3:00 PM
Bradley Classic M
Peoria, IL (Newman Golf Course)
October 28
ACC Championships
Cary, NC (Wakemed Soccer Park)
November 11
NCAA Great Lakes Regional
Madison, WI (Zimmer Championship Course)
November 19
11:00 AM
NCAA Championships
Terre Haute, Ind. (Lavern Gibson CC Course)

Shop Now



Official ND Online Auctions // Bid Now »

Gear Store

Get your Official ND Gear // Shop Now »

Photo Galleries


St. Joseph Health System Nissan Delta Canon Visit South Bend Mishawaka