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Cross Country: Rae looks to perform at elite level for Irish

Matt DeFranks | Thursday, September 8, 2011

Must be something about the number three.

Irish junior runner Jeremy Rae speaks three different languages — English, French and Portuguese. He runs during three different seasons. His favorite movie series — Lord of the Rings — is even a trilogy.

The Lake Erie, Ontario native has particularly excelled in his running career at Notre Dame, qualifying for nationals not only in track, but also in cross country.

“I was happy to qualify for nationals last year,” Rae said. “Getting there was our biggest goal. It was a great experience. It’s the biggest race you compete in.”

Big races are not unfamiliar to Rae, who has been running in them for years. In high school, Rae represented Canada at the Pan Am Junior Games in Trinidad while also setting multiple Canadian track records. Most impressive, however, may be his Penn Relays high school record of a 4:08 mile.

Rae, in his first year running cross country at Notre Dame, finished 78th in the NCAAs last year while helping the Irish to a 25th place finish.

“I like running because it’s very simple and very competitive,” Rae said. “It’s one person versus another person, and the only person to blame is you.”

Rae was even more successful during the track seasons, both indoor and outdoor. During indoor season, Rae finished first in the Big East mile race, while also helping the distance medley relay team to a Big East title. Rae ran a 4:08.01 mile.

During outdoor track season, Rae won the 1,500-meter run in the Big East championship, clocking in at 3:46.38.

“I want to keep winning that title,” Rae said. “The coaches have been stressing a team title a lot. This year, the goal going forward is to get those ten points for the team total.”

Using his Big East championship as a springboard, Rae then competed in nationals, finishing ninth overall in the 1,500 and earning second team All-American honors. The All-American tag marked the 21st consecutive year that the Irish have had a member with that distinction.

He was not, however, at full strength due to a lingering Achilles tendon injury.

“It was a bothersome injury throughout outdoor season and frustrating at nationals knowing it wasn’t my best,” Rae said. “When I’m healthy, it’s completely different. I expect to be in the top-five this year.”

The injury has also put much of Rae’s cross country season in jeopardy. While he may be able to race at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30, Rae said he will probably start racing at the conference championships. Despite his absence, Rae still believes his team is a strong one.

“The guys look really good,” Rae said. “We have a solid five guys that will be good for us. There is no reason we cannot be in the top 10 in the NCAA. Since our first team meeting, that has been the goal for us and we’re building towards that.”

The Irish are ranked 23rd in the nation and 4th in the Great Lakes region. Notre Dame will host the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 16.