Striowski steps up in sophomore year
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Sophomore cross country runner Marc Striowski went the distance Saturday, earning his first college victory in the Valpa-raiso Invit-ational and hinting at the impact he will have on the Irish this season.
"For me, personally, it was kind of nice because I won, but our team also ran very well without our top four guys," Striowski said. "It shows that we're pretty deep, and lots of guys are running well. It's just a starting point for the season."
Striowski is a native of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, where he competed for one of the top high school cross country and track teams in the province.
"I started running in high school because my high school team was pretty good," Striowski said. "I joined the team and did well so I kept doing it. After a while, I knew I wanted to run in college, so that was a motivator."
Striowski said that a number of runners come to the U.S. from Canada to run in college, including several from his team.
"He's a real solid distance man. He can run well at 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters," Notre Dame cross country coach Joe Piane said.
"I think he is going to make vast improvements and he already has between his freshman and sophomore years," added Piane. "He's going to get nothing but better."
Last year, Striowski was usually Notre Dame's sixth finisher, but with others' graduations and his summer training program, he moved up in the Irish lineup. This summer, he practiced at high altitude in Boulder, Colo., working out with fellow cross country runners Sean McManus, Bridget O'Brien and Nicole LaSelle.
"It was a lot more focused training, which helps you not lose track," said Striowski. "We had kind of a disappointing year last year, so everyone's kind of motivated to get back to nationals."
Training at high altitude helps athletes get into top shape. Because the air is thinner, they have to work harder to get the oxygen they need. Then when the athletes return to a lower altitude, they are able to compete more easily. Striowski did long distance training all summer to prepare for the season.
This year, he has his mind set on team goals of winning the Big East championships, qualifying for the national championships with an automatic qualifier position (the top two finishers at districts receive these) and to place among the top ten teams at the NCAA championships in November.
One of the best aspects for Striowski of cross country is the team unity.
"It's a team sport," he said. "I love the team unity, team camaraderie and the competitiveness and rivalry with other schools."
In last week's meet, Striowski captured the title in 24:48 in the 8,000 meter race Ñ 28 seconds better than his personal record last year.
Paine sees even more improvement in Striowski's future.
"I think he can run under 30:00 in the 10,000 meter run this year," said Piane.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, September 15, 1999