Irish look to dominate at Catholic Invitational
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
The men's cross country team aims for its fifth straight title and the women seek their fourth-consecutive championship as Notre Dame hosts the National Catholic Invitational today.
"For this meet, we're looking to go out in a group and just dominate the meet," said sophomore Luke Watson, who is running in his first meet of the season today. "If you're hurting in a race, it really helps to have your teammates there and pull you up with them."
Thirty-three teams will compete in the meet, held on Notre Dame's Burke Golf Course. Despite the large number of teams competing, only 10 squads are Division I. Only a few teams present a high level of competition.
"Obviously, we're going to try to win and work on some things which we really need to work on," said women's coach Tim Connelly. "For a couple of kids, it's their first race, so we want to see what kind of shape they're in. Basically, in both cases [men and women], we're trying to develop depth."
Connelly will run senior All-American JoAnna Deeter, senior Alison Klemmer and junior Erin Olson in the National Catholic Invitational. The women finished second at the Valparaiso Invitational last week, and with the addition of Deeter, Klemmer and Olson, they should have no trouble showing the home crowd a victory.
Deeter won the meet her first three seasons, and looks to extend the streak. Her best time in the 5-km race came in 1996, when she finished in 16 minutes, 39 seconds.
"To be honest, we were too aggressive and never really got into a rhythm last week," Connelly said.
The seven varsity runners in the National Catholic Invitational are Deeter, Klemmer, Olson, senior captain Erin Luby, and freshmen Jennifer Handley, Chrissy Kuenster and Muffy Schmidt.
On the men's side, Watson, fifth-year senior Ryan Maxwell and junior Ryan Shay are competing for the first time this season. However, men's coach Joe Piane will hold out last week's victors — sophomore Marc Striowski, senior Sean McManus and sophomore Pat Conway.
Shay won the Notre Dame meet his first two years, with an improvement of nearly one minute from 1997 to 1998.
"Our goal is clearly to win," Piane said. "It'd be nice to get three or four guys in the top 10. If we do that, it will be a successful day."
Among the top teams competing are Holy Cross, Maris (N.Y.), Lewis, Dayton (Ohio) and Detroit. The Irish hold a clear advantage over the competition with their depth and talent.
"One of our main goals this season is to win races," Olson said, "so tomorrow we're going to try to win the meet and have fun while we're doing it. We want to keep that mentality all season long of winning while having fun."
This will be a final tune-up for the Irish before facing stiff competition in the Notre Dame Invitational at home on Oct. 1.
All Sports Stories for Friday, September 17, 1999