Nov. 7, 2000
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Irish Hope for a Memorable November: The end of the 2000 cross-country season is quickly approaching for the Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams. On November 11th, the Irish head to Ypsilanti, Mich., for the NCAA District IV Meet--which could be both team's tickets for a return visit to Ames, Iowa, on the 20th. Ames, the site of October 14th's Pre-National Meet, will also host the 2000 NCAA Championship Meet.
Notre Dame's harriers expect to face tough competition on Saturday, as they have all season. All of three October meets featured nationally-ranked teams in both the men's and women's fields. The District meet boasts two automatic bids to the National Championship race in Iowa, but a strong finish for either Irish team could prove to be justification for an at-large invite to run in Iowa from the NCAA.
The Irish men have already proven themselves to be among the nation's best this year, remaining in the top 20 all season. [The Irish currently are ranked 20th]. The Irish certainly have some of the nation's toughest individual athletes. Junior Luke Watson (Stillwater, Minn) has stepped into the leading role on the men's team with confidence this season and developed into one of the top runners in the nation. At the BIG EAST Championship in Boston on Oct. 27, Watson finished seventh, and was named to the All- BIG EAST squad, for the third time in his three seasons at Notre Dame. Watson also won the first three races of the season (Valparaiso Invitational, National Catholic and Notre Dame Invitationals).
Close behind Watson is fellow junior Marc Striowski (Toronto, Ont.), who earned All-BIG EAST honors both this year and the last, and also ran in last year's NCAA Championship race. The duo has proven to be a formidable combination for the Irish, with both runners finishing in the top ten in every race Notre Dame has run this season. They both finished in the top 25 at last year's District competition, [Watson was 12, Striowski was 21] and helped to lead the Irish to a NCAA bid.
For the Irish women, a high-caliber performance in the District Meet will be crucial to receiving an invitation to run in Ames on the 20th. The women's squad, who started out the season very strongly, behind the running of several talented underclassmen, most notably sophomore Jennifer Handley (Barrie, Ont.) and freshman Megan Johnson (Seattle, Wash.), have not run as well in recent meets as they may have liked. The coming meet gives them an excellent chance to showcase the depth of talent on the squad, and reaffirm that they belong classed with the nation's elite teams. At last year's District competition, Handley finished fourth on the team for the Irish in 58th-place, behind graduated seniors Alison Klemmer, Nicole LaSelle, and Patty Rice, helping the Irish turn a fourth-place team finish into a NCAA bid.