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    Irish Cross Country Off To Crusader Open; Both Squads Earn Preseason Rankings

    FIGHTING IRISH Junior Meg Ryan returns to the cross country course after missing the 2011 season with injury.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Junior Meg Ryan returns to the cross country course after missing the 2011 season with injury.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    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.

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    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.

    CRUSADER OPEN

    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)

    RANKINGS

    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

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