Sep 2, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
The transition from high school to college can be tough for any student-athlete as they adapt to new teammates, coaches and a higher level of competition.
However, two things that usually stay status quo for most sports are the length of the playing surface and the size of the equipment used. For example, in football the field is still 100 yards long, in soccer the goal is still eight feet by 24 feet and in volleyball the net is still 7-4 tall.
Cross country is one of the few exceptions to the rule though. After running 5Ks (3.2 miles) in high school, women routinely move up to 6Ks (3.7ish miles) in college, while the men make an even more extreme change, venturing up to 10Ks (6.2 miles) at the conference, regional and national meets.
Despite having to adjust to the differences, several freshmen on the University of Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams are still expected to make an impact this fall for the Irish.
Touted by head coach Joe Piane and recruiting coordinator Sean Carlson were nine freshmen, some of whom weren't announced in earlier releases regarding incoming freshmen.
These high school standouts (with some top times in parenthesis) include: Chris Marco (4:07.31 - Mile, 1:52.33 - 800m), Jacob Dumford (1:51.15 - 800m, 4:08.04 - Mile), Andrew Stone (1:51.64 - 800m), Kris Moran (9:04 - 3,200m, 4:13 - Mile), Scott Milling (9:17 - 3,200m), Nick Lauriano (9:13 - 3,200m, 4:16 - 1,600m, 1:55 - 800m), Patrick O'Connell (1:53.61 - 800m) and Grant Koch (1:53.5 - 800m) and Adam Turner (1:54 - 800m).
"Cross country is a big transition for men due to the drastic change in distance," said Piane. "However, we have a talented group of guys that can definitely help us towards the end of cross country and especially into the track and field season. We will work to build up their stamina throughout the fall and are excited to see how they can help us throughout their rookie campaigns."
The Irish are also anxiously awaiting track and field season as Arizona State graduate Nick Happe (3:58 - Mile, 7:52 - 3,000m, 13:54 - 5,000m) will use his final season of eligibility at Notre Dame as he attends law school.
On the women's side, head coach Tim Connelly sang the praises of incoming freshmen Taylor Driscoll (2:12 - 800m, 4:52 - Mile) and Gabrielle Thivierge (10:40 - 3,200m).
Some of the many accomplishments of this pair include a ninth place finish by Driscoll at the 2012 Nike Cross Country Nationals and a fifth place finish at the Michigan DI high school cross country meet by Thivierge.
"Gabrielle had a really good high school career," said Connelly. "The thing that impressed me about her is that she always ran her best race at the big meets like the state championships. She is a really good competitor and I think once she figures out what we're doing here she'll respond and compete really well.
"Taylor is from a great high school program. She is from the same high school as former Irish All-American Lindsey Ferguson, and has competed at a high level for a very long time."
Several of these first timers will get their feet wet this Friday as the Irish kick off the 2013 season in Valparaiso, Ind., at the Crusader Open. Notre Dame usually runs many rookies at the event, often taking home the crown on both the men's and women's side.
The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) released its preseason coaches poll last Thursday. The women's squad was picked to place third (188 points) at the ACC meet and earned one first place vote. The Irish were selected behind Florida State and Duke. Meanwhile, the men were selected fifth with 150 points. They were picked behind former BIG EAST foe Syracuse, Virginia, Florida State and N.C. State.
Notre Dame continues its preseason preparations Tuesday with an afternoon practice that will take them from the outdoor track to the Notre Dame Golf Course, which is the site of both the National Catholic Championships and the Notre Dame Invitational.
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director