With one team title and two individual crowns, Notre Dame has played a prominent role in the history of the NCAA cross country championships.
In fact it was 1938, at the first NCAA championship, when Notre Dame's Greg Rice would become the first-ever cross country national champion, running the four-mile course in 20:12.9 to lead the Irish to a second-place team finish. That marked the first of Notre Dame's 29 appearances in the NCAA top 20.
Four years later another Irish harrier, Oliver Hunter, raced to the individual championship with a time of 20:18. He is one of 13 Notre Dame runners to have recorded a top-10 finish in the event. The latest is former Irish All-American Dan Garrett, who dashed to a ninth-place showing in 1988.
In 1957, the Irish claimed a national team title. In frigid, 26-degree weather in East Lansing, Mich., Notre Dame surprised heavy-favorite Michigan State, the host school. And the Irish did it in strange fashion. Notre Dame's five-man point total added up to 121, an extremely high number to contend for a championship. After learning of their score, coach Alex Wilson and his harriers boarded the team bus and headed back home, content to settle for another high finish. About halfway home the stunning news came over the bus radio: Notre Dame had won the national championship, beating Michigan State by six points.
The Irish have continued their history of success, placing in the top-10 for six of the last nine years.
The women's program joined the storied tradition in 1993 when it finished 15th it its first appearance in the NCAA championships and watched its first All-American—Sarah Riley—finish 33rd overall.
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The Rockne Heritage Fund was created in 2002 to galvanize alumni, parents, and friends of Notre Dame to fund expendable grants-in-aid for student-athletes. Members help ensure that the University continues to offer its student-athletes, regardless of their financial resources, a transforming educational experience, one that combines intellectual rigor, athletic excellence, and an emphasis on spirituality and moral values.