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ND Cross Country: Men and women run at NCAAs

By Joe Wirth | Monday, November 19, 2012

The Irish wrapped up their 2012 campaign Saturday when the men’s and women’s teams competed in the 2012 NCAA championship meet in Louisville, Ky.

The men’s team finished in 28th place with a total of 591 points, while the women’s team placed 15th with 394 points and recorded its best finish at the NCAA championships since 2005.

Between the two teams, the Irish had 13 total runners competing. On the men’s side, junior Martin Grady set the pace, as he finished in 52nd place with a time of 30:20 for the 10-kilometer race.

Senior Rebecca Tracy, sophomore Gabby Gonzales and junior Alexa Aragon led the women. Each finished in the top 100 and within a second of each other.

Women’s coach Tim Connelly said he was proud of the way his team competed and thought the results were a testament to how the team competed and worked all year.

“A top-15 finish is nothing to scoff at,” Connelly said. “We ran well and the results show that. Of course, there is never going to be a perfect race, but we really competed hard out there.”

Another notable finish on the men’s side was senior J.P. Malette, who finished in 117th place with a time of 30:53. Junior Walter Schafer was the third runner for the Irish to cross the finish line with a time of 31:02, which earned him 136th place.

Connelly said despite the strong showing on the women’s side, he felt there were missed opportunities which could have snuck the team into the top-10.

“The four ran as well as they could,” Connelly said. “We finished 22nd last year so it is good to see improvement, but you always wonder, ‘What if?’ We had to shut down [sophomore] Hannah Eckstein and [freshman] Molly Seidel was hampered by a sinus infection, so she was not able to be at her best.”

Oregon won the women’s meet while Iowa State senior Betsy Saina took home the individual crown.

Oklahoma State won the men’s meet for the third time in four years and Texas Tech junior Kennedy Kithuka won the individual race with a time of 28:31.

Looking back on the year, Connelly said it was nice to see his runners grow and improve from August workouts.

“I’m proud of the way they learned to compete,” Connelly said. “They put themselves in a position to be challenged and they responded well.”

This meet marks the end of the cross country season, but the indoor track and field season begins Dec. 7 with the Blue & Gold Invitational at the Loftus Sports Center.

Contact Joe Wirth at jwirth@nd.edu