College Sports and Maryland: A Perfect Fit

In recent weeks, Maryland has hosted many NCAA sporting events, like the ACC Field Hockey Championships and MEAC Cross Country Championships, and this past weekend was no different. Two big events took place in our great state this past Saturday: The NCAA Mid-Atlantic Cross Country Regionals in Princess Anne and the Notre Dame Shamrock Series game against Maryland in Landover.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore hosted another Cross Country tournament on Saturday, this time an NCAA regional. Schools from the Mid-Atlantic region made their way to Princess Anne for their chance to qualify for the National Championship. More than 40 teams competed in Saturday’s regional. The top two teams and top 25 runners automatically advanced to the championship. The regional at UMES was one of eight taking place this past weekend. Villanova and Georgetown tied for first in the women’s team division, and Villanova runner Sheila Reid finished first with a time of 21:32.7. In the men’s division, Georgetown University finished first and Villanova men took second. Donn Cabral of Princeton University finished first with a time of 30:30.3.

This race was very different from the last cross country meet at UMES. Last time, the rain, wind and cold proved to be an additional hurdle for runners to face. This past Saturday, the weather couldn’t have been any nicer. Under sunny skies and seasonal temperatures, fans turned out in large numbers to root on their favorite teams and runners. A few runners from Maryland schools advanced to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, IN on November 21st. Jess Palacio, a senior from Navy, and Julie Fricke, a junior from Maryland, both got automatic bids in the women’s division. James Pearson and Cody Rome, both seniors from Navy, and Kikanae Punyua, a freshman from Maryland, all qualified in the men’s division. For a complete list of the results from this past weekend, click here.

While the Mid-Atlantic regionals were taking place on the Eastern Shore, another battle was brewing in Prince George’s County. Notre Dame’s annual Shamrock Series made a stop in Landover this year. Every year, Notre Dame plays one of it’s home games at a neutral site, giving its fans around the world a chance to see their team in action. (Next year, they play in Ireland against another Maryland team, Navy.) This year the Fighting Irish took on the Maryland Terrapins at FedEx Field. While neither team was fighting for a spot in the National Championship, they were fighting for pride. While this was a home game for Notre Dame, the game was in Maryland’s backyard: FedEx Field is about 10 miles away from the University of Maryland campus.

View from my seats at FedEx Field

Both teams had disappointing starts to their seasons, but Notre Dame has been able to turn that around while Maryland has struggled. Dealing with a new head coach and the loss of key players, Maryland is having a down year. But that didn’t mean that the Terps would just give up. While the game was never really close, Maryland never surrendered, scoring some points late in the game. Notre Dame walked away with the “home” win, 45-21.

The game was televised nationally on NBC. Lots of Irish fans made their way to FedEx Field, but a good number of Terps fans showed their pride, as well (me, included). The parking lots were at capacity with cars donning Notre Dame and Maryland paraphernalia. The weather was chilly, football weather at it’s best, but that didn’t stop the over 70,000 fans that filled the stands at FedEx Field. The atmosphere was loud and rowdy, but definitely respectful. As a Maryland alum, I was none too pleased with the outcome, but many fans left pretty happy on Saturday evening.

With state-of-the-art arenas and top-notch facilities being bulit on campuses around the state, the chance for more events like the ones this past weekend is increasing. Big-time college sporting events are taking place in Maryland, showing that our state is a prime location for college sports.

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