Sept. 10, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After opening the 2013 season with a first place finish at the Crusader Open Friday night, University of Notre Dame sophomore Sydni Meunier has etched her name in school history by becoming the first Irish student-athlete to earn Atlantic Coast Conference weekly honors after being named the ACC Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week Tuesday.
"Wow, I can't really believe this honor honestly," said Meunier. "Three or four years ago if you would have told me that I would have been chosen for this honor I probably would have laughed. But this award really does mean a lot to me because it's a testament to the many hours and miles I have put into my sport and it's nice when it can show through in a race or an honor like this one."
Meunier, who didn't run cross country in high school and only ran in four meets as a freshman in 2012, pulled away from the field to win the 5K race in 17:57.7 at Sunset Hills Park in Valparaiso, Ind. Her victory was just the start of a dominating day for the Irish as the first six competitors and seven of the top ten all wore Notre Dame Blue and Gold.
"Coach (Connelly) really wanted us all to stay together and let someone else lead through the first kilometer, so we were all still really grouped and really relaxed," said Meunier. "At that point I was feeling really good and just wanted to see where my fitness was at, so I pushed myself. I just really love racing and was excited to be out there and work with the team to win the meet by running my best."
"Sydni's race didn't surprise me at all because she has been running that well," said women's head cross country coach Tim Connelly. "I knew coming into the season she would be really fit and ready to go. Last fall was an adjustment period for her since she didn't run cross country in high school, but I knew being the type of competitive runner she is that she would be ready for this fall."
A standout on the track in high school, Meunier couldn't run cross country at Gibson City Melvin-Sibley as the school didn't sponsor the sport. However, Connelly saw a talented track and field runner that could make the transition to cross country with hard work.
Last year in her first cross country season, Meunier ran at the four regular season meets, but didn't compete at any of the postseason competitions as she adjusted to a new sport and a new level.
"At first it was pretty hard," she said. "I was running more miles than I ever had and harder workouts than I ever had before. Just like anything else though I got the hang of it and I think that it really shows through my summer training and the couple of weeks that we have been back together as a team training as well. I feel like now I am definitely in at a much more knowledgeable point than I was when I arrived, but I still have a lot to learn and can't wait to help and make more of an impact this year."
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).
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director