Nov. 14, 2000
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Irish Men Finish Third at Districts, Earn a Trip to Ames, Iowa for the NCAA Championship: The Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams competed for spots in the 2000 NCAA Championships during the Great Lakes Regional Championships last weekend in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The men finished a strong third, which secured them an at-large bid in the NCAA meet. The women's team finished eighth and will not be returning to the NCAAs this season.
The lead runner for the Irish men was junior Luke Watson (Stillwater, Minn.), who became the first Notre Dame harrier to capture the regional championship individual title. Watson moved from seventh to first in the final stretch of the race to finish in 30:47.1. It is the fourth individual title for Watson this season (Valparaiso, National Catholic, Notre Dame Invitational, and District Meet).
"Luke ran a great race (at the Regional meet)," Irish head coach Joe Piane says.
"He has been our leader all year and is a strong contender for All-America honors at the (2000) NCAA meet (Watson finished 58th at the 1999 NCAA Cross Country Championship)."
Not far behind Watson at the Great Lakes meet was classmate Marc Striowski (Toronto, Ontario), who has consistently been Notre Dame's second runner this season. Striowski took eighth in 31:23.0
"Luke and Marc have just been fantastic this year," Piane says.
"They will be our leaders once again at the national championship."
Notre Dame's third runner was junior Pat Conway (Springfield, Va.) in 17th (31:44.7).
"Pat is a completely different runner than last year," Piane says.
"His dedication and work ethic has transformed him into a better runner."
The fourth runner across the finish line for the Irish was freshman Todd Mobley (West Bloomfield, Mich.) in 24th (31:54.2). Mobley has steadily improved throughout the season to become one of the team's top runners.
"Todd has just had a great freshman season," Piane says.
"In a race of that magnitude (in the regional meet), a top-25 finish is quite an accomplishment."
Senior Sean Zanderson (Poway, Calif.) was the fifth Irish harrier to cross the finish line in 93rd (33:31.0).
"We know that Sean can run better than his finish last week," Piane says.
"He has been a consistent top-five finisher this season and we are confident he has better races in him."
The men will travel to Ames, Iowa, Monday, Nov. 20, to race at 12:15 for the NCAA championsip. The Irish, who finished eighth last year, will be on a mission for another top-10 finish.
History is on the side of the Irish harriers, as the team has finished in the top-10 at the NCAA meet five out of the last eight years. They also finished 10th at the Pre-National Meet this year in Ames, while getting a look the same course the race will be run on for the national meet.