Freshman Handley brings experience from Canada
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Freshman cross country runner Jennifer Handley already has more experience in national and international competition than most athletes get in a lifetime.
Handley looks to be the top newcomer on the Notre Dame women’s cross country team this fall. Coaches hope their discovery from Barrie, Ontario, Canada, can propel the Irish to contend for the national title.
The women’s team did not lose a single runner to graduation last year and returns three top runners — seniors JoAnna Deeter, Patti Rice and Allison Klemmer. Erin Olson, Erin Luby and Bridget O’Brien also return.
With other top prospects Melissa Schmidt, who won the Montana state cross country championship, and Carrie Eaton, an All-State cross country runner from Ohio, Handley and the Irish should top the Midwest, if not the nation.
“I think [Handley] has a lot of experience at a real high level, which is kind of unusual for a 19-year-old,” head coach Tim Connelly said.
Handley’s best finishes in the Canadian Junior Nationals were third in the 1,500-meter run and second in the 3,000-meter run. She also has competed in three Junior World Championships, though she never ran for a high school team.
“There are huge amounts of spectators in track here [the U.S.], and they are so enthusiastic,” said Handley. “There is a lot better competition here.
“I think there is a lot more talent in college than in high school, and we’re really going to push each other,” she added. “I know that we are going to have a good team, and I feel really comfortable already.”
Connelly noted Handley’s influence on other runners.
“She’s a kid that can come in and be an NCAA qualifier and make a real big impact,” Connelly said. “She also isn’t afraid to run a lot of mileage.”
If Handley can make the adjustment to college-level competition in a new country, the Irish cross country squad should have the potential to go to nationals.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, August 4, 1999