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ND Cross Country: Both teams place in top 25 at national meet

Aaron Sant-Miller | Monday, November 21, 2011

In a field featuring the best teams in the nation, the men’s and women’s teams finished 24th and 22nd respectively at the NCAA championships. The times marked the highest finish for the men’s team since 2008 and the best finish for the women’s team since 2005.

“It was a nice race, but it wasn’t our best,” junior Jessica Rydberg said.

Junior Jeremy Rae of the men’s team echoed this sentiment.

“[The outcome] wasn’t good, but it’s not the worst,” Rae said. “It’s kind of where we thought we’d be.”

Wisconsin won the men’s 10-kilometer race, finishing with 97 points. Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang won the race with a time of 28:44.1.

Rae, who finished 105th with a time of 30:49.7, led the Irish along with sophomore Martin Grady (30:52.6) and junior J.P. Malette (31:10.2). All three runners finished in the top 150.

“It wasn’t too horrible, but I’m not happy with my performance,” Rae said. “I didn’t run quite as well comparatively as I did last year. We were ranked 25th coming in and finished 24th. Everyone could have been 20 spots up and that would have put us where we wanted to be.”

The women fared a little better, yet the pace was set by Georgetown, who took the top spot with 162 points. Villanova stood out with two runners in the top six. Wildcats senior Sheila Reid, who finished with a time of 19:41.2 in the women’s six-kilometer race, won the race and led Villanova to a top-three finish.

“It was exciting,” Rydberg said. “It is always exciting to be able to compete with that level of people.”

Overall, the Notre Dame women ran as a very tight group, with the team’s top five runners all finishing in the top 150 and within 14 seconds of each other. Sophomore Kelly Curran, who finished with a time of 21:09.8, led the Irish women.

Despite the solid results, Rydberg said the racers shared a certain level of disappointment.

“We did okay,” she said. “As a team we had a good pack together but we would prefer the pack be a little further up.”

In reflection on the season, which has now come to a close, there was a lot of untapped potential for both the men and the women.

“I think we all know we have a lot more potential that we’ll be able to reach in the future, which is pretty exciting,” Rydberg said. “We have a relatively young team, and this season we learned how to work out together really well and run together really well.”

Both teams have room to grow, and the runner remain optimistic for the rest of the year.

“It’s track season now,” Rae said. “For basically all of us, it is way more exciting than cross [country] season.”

Yet, even with the excitement building, the Irish runners need to recover from the exhausting season.

“We will probably take a week or two off to recover,” Rydberg said, “But then we’ll get refocused and get straight to the indoor season.”

The first indoor race occurs on Dec. 2, but many of the runners will likely sit that race out.

 

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu