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ND Cross Country: Sophomore garners conference distinction

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, October 31, 2011

Sophomore Martin Grady was a nine-time letter-winner in high school. He ran cross country and track and field, while also competing in a more unconventional sport — bass fishing.

“It was a great time,” Grady said. “We actually had a pretty good fishing team, but I could not make it to the state meet for fishing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of competitive fishing, but just sitting there and tossing a worm out was enjoyable.”

While Grady calls fishing a mere hobby now, the Burr Ridge, Ill. native has excelled in cross country and has finished as one of Notre Dame’s top two finishers in each race he ran this season.

He earned All-Big East honors last week during the Big East Championship. He placed 10th in the field, finishing the eight-kilometer race in just 23:52.2. The No. 29 Irish finished sixth in the conference.

“It’s nice to have it done, but ultimately, it’s for the team,” Grady said. “Whether I’m ninth or 11th didn’t matter too much. [I] probably would have rather had our team move up a little bit more.”

Grady said many of his Irish teammates set high goals for the conference meet, hoping to place in the top 10.

“A lot of guys on the team have the potential to be up there too,” Grady said. “I’ve always had a little bit of high expectations for myself. A bit of confidence can come from [finishing as the top sophomore in the Big East].”

Last season, Grady ran a 4:27.71 mile at the Notre Dame Invitational, finishing in 17th place. He also finished 11th during the 3,000-meter race at the Indiana University Relays, posting a time of 8:45.94. During the Big East Indoor Championships, Grady placed 21st in the 5,000-meter race as a freshman.

“The transition of being a freshman is pretty big,” Grady said. “People need to adjust to the workload, the number of miles. Being done with that is definitely a good thing. To have the system down is a big help.”

Grady, a business major, said learning under the experienced upperclassmen helped him develop and adjust to college athletics better.

“[They’ve] been huge,” Grady said of the upperclassmen. “I’ve been lucky at the time I came in. Last year we had [former Notre Dame runner] Dan Jackson. He was just perfect. He would tell us his experiences, both the good and the bad. This year, we’ve had a ton of guys to step up and take those senior leadership spots.”

While the upperclassmen have helped Grady become a better runner, it was the underclassmen that helped woo him to Notre Dame.

“I really liked the guys on the team, great academics, pretty much a good combination of everything,” Grady said. “I knew some of the other freshmen coming in. I really liked those guys.”

With the Big East race behind the team, the Irish will try to finish the season strong at nationals.

“The biggest thing is to make it to nationals,” Grady said. “I think we’re in a decent position now. We need to run well in a few weeks. After that, it’ll just be how good we do at nationals.”

Notre Dame will compete in the Great Lakes Regional in Toledo, Ohio on Nov. 12.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu