Sept. 17, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams will host the first of their two home meets this season when the 30th Annual National Catholic Cross Country Championship kicks off Friday afternoon at the nine-hole Notre Dame Golf Course. The women will begin competition with a 5K race at 4:15 p.m. (EDT) with the men to follow in a five-mile contest at 5 p.m. (EDT).
The National Catholic Championship was started by current Notre Dame men's cross country coach Joe Piane in 1980. The meet premiered as an event featuring prominent Catholic institutions from throughout the United States, with a women's race being added in 1984. The annual event has continued from there, with host Notre Dame showing success throughout the competitions tenure.
The Notre Dame men have won 19 team titles, including 17 of the past 21 championships, while the Irish women have earned 15 team titles, all in the past 17 years. Notre Dame runners have claimed 14 men's titles and 14 women's crowns overall, including two wins in the 2008 edition of the National Catholic. Paul Springer won the men's race with a time of 24:54, while Lindsey Ferguson earned the women's crown in 17:31. The Irish women took home the team trophy a year ago, while the Duquesne men edged out Notre Dame for top honors.
Both the men's and women's teams enter the National Catholic Championship ranked nationally. The men currently sit 27th, while the women are 29th in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll. Both the men's and the women's squads opened up the season strong, earning top-team honors at the Valparaiso Open Sept. 4.
Several Irish runners will make their season debut Friday. 2008 all-BIG EAST honoree Jake Walker and defending National Catholic champ Springer will hit the course for the first time this season, as well as veteran runners Dan Jackson, Ryan Jacobs and Joe Miller.
On the women's side, defending NCC champion and all-BIG EAST choice Ferguson returns to the course with several top members of the Irish running corps in Marissa Treece, Beth Tacl, Rachel Velarde and Molly Hirt. Freshmen Jessica Rydberg, Rebecca Tracy and Anne McCarthy will make their Irish debut on Friday.
A complete list of entrants for the 2009 National Catholic Championship can be found at www.und.com. Complete results will be available at www.und.com following the meet.