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ND Cross Country: Rae leads Irish into Great Lakes Regionals

Joe Wirth | Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Both the men’s and women’s teams will be competing in this week’s NCAA Great Lakes Regionals beginning Friday in Madison, Wis.

After their strong performances at the recent Big East championships, the Irish hope to continue their good form this week against strong competition.

Senior Jeremy Rae leads Notre Dame’s men’s team. Rae is coming off a third-place finish last week and the all-Big East honoree is hoping to close out his Notre Dame career with strong performances this week and next at the NCAA Championships.

The other representatives from the men’s team competing at the Great Lakes Regional include freshman Michael Clevenger, juniors Martin Grady, Patrick Lesiewicz, Walter Schafer, D.J. Thornton and seniors Jeff MacMillan, J.P. Malette and Jonathan Shawel.

Senior Rebecca Tracy will lead the women’s team in Wisconsin. Like Rae, Tracy also earned a spot on the All-Big East team after the conference tournament Oct. 26. Tracy comes into this regional in good form, having finished 15th in the Big East race. She finished 34th out of 227 runners at Great Lakes Regionals last year.

While the representatives from the men’s team are mostly upperclassmen, the women’s team is much younger. The Irish women’s field includes three freshman, four sophomores, three juniors and three seniors.

Throughout the year, coach Joe Piane has said he wanted his team to improve on their starts. He said the runners were too hesitant early and that cost them down the stretch, especially in races with large fields.

“We needed to be more aggressive and competitive early,” Piane said Oct. 12 after the Wisconsin Invitational. “I believe the experience we got from this race will benefit us in future big races.”

The Irish did just that in the conference event as the men finished third and the women took fifth. For the Irish to have success in the next two meets, Piane said they are going to have to stick with the quick-start philosophy.

“We were much more aggressive than we have been in other meets this year,” Piane told UND.com following the Big East Championships. “We will need to run similarly in two weeks to have a good shot at advancing to the NCAA Championships.”

The men’s field will include 30 teams with a total of 304 individual runners, while the women’s side will have a field of 32 teams with a total of 241 individual runners.

The women’s race will be a 6-kilometer race and will begin at 1 p.m. The men’s race will be a 10-kilometer competition and will begin approximately at 2:15 p.m. Both races will take place at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc.

Contact Joe Wirth at jwirth@nd.edu