Men’s Cross Country: Grady leads in postseason
Alex Wilcox | Monday, November 4, 2013
There are just two more meets on the calendar for Notre Dame, the regional championships in two weeks and then nationals after that, making these final meets the most important races of the season.
And when there is an important race to be won, odds are senior runner Martin Grady is going to be right at the top. Grady, an accounting major from Burr Ridge, Illinois, consistently turns in his best performances when the stakes are highest. Last year he led the team at both regionals and nationals, finishing ninth out of 201 runners at regionals and 52nd out of 245 at nationals. He also earned all-Big East and all-region honors.
The postseason success is all a matter of training, Grady said.
“I think part of it is just the way the season goes. The workouts just don’t hit me ’til later,” Grady said. “I don’t think my mindset changes. I approach all of them the same; things just start clicking. I can tell from the workouts I’m a bit sluggish in the beginning, and then for championship season I’m just ready for go.”
This postseason has proved no different for Grady, as he led the team with a fifth place finish, with a time of 24:13.2, in last weekend’s ACC Conference Championships. He finished just 35 seconds behind the winner, and his performance earned him all-ACC honors, the third time in his career he has been named all-conference. Despite the impressive performance, Grady was nonchalant about once again leading his team.
“It was cool,” Grady said. “I think there’s a lot of guys who did well. Most races [Irish graduate student Jeremy Rae] might be our top guy, but he’s had a little foot thing that he’s working with. It’s nice to be up there, but I think we’ve gotten to the point where a certain guy could finish first or fifth and it wouldn’t matter because we have that kind of support and depth.”
Overall, Grady said the season has gone well, but he feels he is now finally where he needs to be to have another successful championship run.
“I think that first race at National Catholic we just ran as a team, and it went pretty well,” Grady said. “The ND Invite was not my best showing, and then I actually strained my calf before Wisconsin, so I knew it wasn’t going to be my best, but we did all right. ACC was probably good for me, and hopefully it’s the level I should be at.”
In his four years running cross country for Notre Dame, Grady has been to nationals as a sophomore and junior and anticipates qualifying again this year. While he has been on good teams before, Grady said none compare to this year’s squad.
“There’s a lot more talent on the team this year,” Grady said. “This year we have two fifth years and two regular seniors. I think this is all of our fourth nationals so it’s a pretty senior-heavy team, which is definitely a good thing. Me and [senior Walter Schafer] joked around how it was shocking we made nationals in past years because the team now is so much better.”
For these next two races, Grady is focused all on the team.
“At regionals, I think we have a really good shot at winning it,” Grady said. “Different teams have different strategies, but I think we’ll race it all out. As long as you’re one of the top three teams, you automatically qualify. Individually, I don’t have anything set in stone, although it would be nice to have three or four of us in the top 10.”
Since Grady is a senior, he knows these next two meets will be the last times he ever competes for Notre Dame in cross country. He plans on coming back next year to get his MSA in accounting and will be able to run indoor and outdoor track, but he has used up all of his cross country eligibility.
For Grady, the best way to go about that is to simply ignore it.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Grady said. “Maybe it’ll hit me in the last 400 of the last race. I think it’ll definitely push me and the rest of the seniors to push a little harder, but we pretty much approach all races with the same mindset.”
Contact Alex Wilcox at email@example.com