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ND Cross Country

Irish women qualify for NCAA championship

| Monday, November 17, 2014

After finishing sixth in the NCAA Great Lakes regional meet in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday, the Irish women’s squad earned an at-large bid to participate in the NCAA championship meet next weekend.

Irish junior Molly Seidel sprints down the homestretch during her win at the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 19 at Notre Dame Golf Course.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior Molly Seidel sprints down the homestretch during her win at the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 19 at Notre Dame Golf Course.

Notre Dame was one of the six teams that qualified for the national championships from the Great Lakes region. Irish coach Matt Sparks said he is confident in the women’s ability to excel at next week’s meet.

“The success of the women’s team is a product of the maturity and confidence of the collective group,” Sparks said. “Our team captains, [senior] Emily Frydrych and [junior] Molly Seidel, demonstrate those traits. The rest of the team has done a good job of following their lead.”

Seidel and fellow junior Danielle Aragon both won all-ACC and all-region honors after placing in the top 25 in both the conference championship and the Great Lakes regional championship. Seidel, who placed fourth at the regional championship, would have automatically qualified as an individual for the NCAA championship if the Irish had not been given an at-large berth.

Seidel led the Irish on Friday as she has in every race this season, completing the 6-kilometer race in 19:59. Aragon clocked in close behind at 20:45 (25th), while Frydrych came in at 20:59 (37th). Senior Karen Lesiewicz finished in 21:11 (49th) and senior Katie Moran completed the race in 21:48 (80th) to cap off Notre Dame’s scoring runners.

Sophomore Taylor Driscoll and junior Sydni Meunier rounded out the Irish varsity seven at 21:57 (93rd) and 22:07 (101st), respectively.

Irish junior Danielle Aragon charges to the finish during the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 19 at Notre Dame Golf Course. Aragon finished in second overall.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior Danielle Aragon charges to the finish during the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 19 at Notre Dame Golf Course. Aragon finished in second overall.

On the men’s side, Notre Dame also finished in sixth place, but the Irish were not awarded a spot in the NCAA championships. Instead, junior Michael Clevenger clinched an individual spot in the meet and earned all-region honors after finishing the 10-kilometer race in sixth place, clocking a time of 30:22.

“Mike Clevenger has a lot of experience competing on a national level in high school and last year at the NCAA meet,” Sparks said. “Those opportunities, undoubtedly, gave him the confidence to know he could compete with anyone in our region. He had some injury issues in August that slowed him down early in the season. Now, Michael’s fitness continues to progress and I know he has some lofty goals going into the NCAA championship.”

Senior Jake Kildoo clocked a time of 31:03 (39th), junior Timothy Ball finished in 31:07 (40th), sophomore Jacob Dumford completed the race in 31:23 (54th) and sophomore Chris Marco rounded up the top five, in 31:35 (66th).

“The men’s team this year was very young,” Sparks said. “Our top two men most of the year were [juniors Clevenger and Ball]. We also had to count on [sophomore] Chris Marco and Scott Milling, as well as freshman Calvin Kraft. We lost a lot of senior experience last year with four of our seven athletes competing at the NCAA meet graduating. We are already looking forward to next year and getting the entire group back to the NCAA championship.”

Looking towards next week’s national championship, Sparks said his runners are getting mentally ready for the most important meet of the season.

“We have already talked about not being satisfied about simply going to the the NCAA championship meet,” Sparks said. ” We need to go into the race with a very specific purpose and targeted goals. This week will be more about mentally preparing for the race than the physical preparation.”

The NCAA championship will take place Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

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