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ND Cross Country: Men and women take first

Aaron Sant-Miller | Monday, September 17, 2012

For the first time this fall, the Irish put some of their best runners on the line at the 33rd edition of the annual National Catholic Championship, hosted at the Notre Dame Golf Course. As a result, the men’s and the women’s teams raced to both individual and team titles. For the men, Irish senior Jeremy Rae claimed the win with a time of 24:16.0 in the five-mile race. For the women, senior Rebecca Tracy crossed the line first at a blistering 17:11.8 in the five-kilometer race.

“It was a great start, it really was,” Irish men’s cross country coach Joe Piane said. “We had a lot of guys run solid, so I’m pleased with the outcome.”

Irish women’s cross country coach Tim Connelly echoed this sentiment.

“I thought we did a lot of things really well,” he said. “Overall, I thought it was a pretty good start.”

As a team, the Irish men finished strong, claiming seven of the top-12 finishes. Following Rae was senior Johnathan Shawel and junior Walter Schafer. Shawel finished fifth with a time of 24:34.6, while Schafer cruised to a seventh-place finish with a time of 24:46.0. The Irish had runners grab the eighth and tenth spots as well, rounding out five runners in the top 10. Sophomore Jake Kildoo finished eighth with a time of 24.52.1, and senior Jeff MacMillan finished 10th with a time of 24:54.4.

“I don’t think anybody ran great. I don’t think our team ran great,” Piane said. “Still, it’s still a good start. For most of those guys, it was their first race of the year.”

For the women, the Irish claimed four of the top five spots. Junior Kelly Curran finished third with a time of 17:22.2, freshman Molly Seidel claimed fourth with a time of 17:22.9 and sophomore Gabby Gonzales took fifth with a time of 17:26.1. The only non-Irish runner in the top five was Duquesne sophomore Amber Valimont, who finished second. Valimont crossed the line just behind Tracy with a time of 17.12.7.

“[The Irish women] did a really good job of getting out well, finding each other early in the race and running together for a long stretch of the race,” Connelly said.

Historically, the Irish have done very well, with the men capturing 23 victories and the women winning 19. Since 2003, the women have claimed both the individual and the team title every year. This was the fourth-consecutive victory for the men.

Much of this is a result of the strong training regimen the Irish have instituted, which can provide a better start to the season, Piane said.
“The team has been training exceptionally well,” he said. “Still, it’s not the hardest meet we’re going to run. For the majority of the guys, this was the easiest race they will run in.”

The Irish responded positively in their first big race this year, Connelly said.

“Whenever you come off a really hard training phase, it’s hard to know exactly how people will respond to racing,” Connelly said. “Overall, it was pretty close to what I had hoped for and what I had expected.”

For the Irish, the training continues this week and next. The teams next compete on Sept. 28, when the Irish host the Notre Dame Invitational. The meet will take place on the Notre Dame Golf Course and will begin at 2 p.m.

Contact Aron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu