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ND Cross Country

Notre Dame strives to become a perennial power

| Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams will begin their 2015 seasons at the Crusader Invitational on Sept. 4, an event which the Irish men won in 2014. The beginning of the season for Notre Dame follows a 2014 season in which the Irish raced in seven events and culminated in the Notre Dame women’s team running in the NCAA championships in late November the under first-year head coach Matthew Sparks.

On top of winning the opening Crusader Invitational in 2014, the Notre Dame men were runner-ups in the National Catholic Championship in September and finished seventh and sixth respectively at the ACC championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional championships. The Irish men did not compete as a team in the NCAA championships, although senior Michael Clevenger finished 92nd individually.

“The men’s program is still in rebuilding mode,” said Sparks. “One of our next steps is to get to the national meet since we missed out last year. I feel like we’ve made some positive steps in the right direction and we have a great senior leader in Michael Clevenger, so I am confident we can take that next step.”

In 2014, the Irish women won the National Catholic Championship and had successful finishes at the ACC championships (fifth) and the NCAA Great Lakes Regional (sixth) at the beginning of their postseason before ultimately taking 29th at the NCAA championships.

“The women’s team has consistently been represented in the national meet over the last 10 years,” said Sparks. “We feel like we can make a good jump on the women’s side this season.”

Irish senior Molly SeidelWei Lin | The Observer

Irish senior Molly Seidel cruises to the finish line at the National Catholic Championship on Sept. 19 at Notre Dame Golf Course. Seidel won the race and is also coming off an individual national championship title at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championships in June.

A top performer for the Irish throughout the 2014 season was Molly Seidel, who became Notre Dame’s first All-American since 2009 and finished 19th overall at the NCAA championships. Seidel returns to the Irish as a senior this season coming off her national championship victory in the 10,000-meter race at the Outdoor Track and Field championships in the spring. However, Seidel is not the only runner Sparks said he expects to have a big impact in 2015.

“Another returning young lady that should make a contribution for us is Danielle Aragon,” said Sparks. “She is another senior and a school record holder. One of our signees is Anna Rohrer, who was the Gatorade National Runner of the Year in high school, so she should be able to step in right away and run right with Molly.

Irish senior Danielle AragonWei Lin | The Observer

Irish senior Danielle Aragon sprints down the stretch at the National Catholic Championship at Notre Dame Golf Course on Sept. 19. Aragon finished second in the race behind her teammate Seidel.

“On the men’s side, [senior] Tim Ball was a pretty consistent second or third guy on the team last year and he’s coming off an improved track season, so we expect him to step up this year.”

Following the season opener, the Irish are scheduled to compete in two events at Notre Dame (the National Catholic Championship on Sept. 18 and Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 2) as well as at meets hosted by Big Ten schools Wisconsin and Illinois. The ACC championships will be in Tallahassee, Florida, at the end of October before the Great Lakes Regional, and the NCAA championship events — should Notre Dame qualify — take place in November.

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