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ND Cross Country

Aragon embraces leadership role for Irish

| Thursday, September 17, 2015

Irish senior Molly Seidel stole the headlines over the summer, winning the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA championships. But she’s not the only senior important to Notre Dame’s success this season. Danielle Aragon has a role to play for the Irish, both on and off the course.

The Billings, Montana native holds All-ACC honors for her performance on the course, but off it, Aragon looks to impact the team with her leadership.

“I think I have been working on just helping the freshman figure things out and trying to be more aware of if people are confused about something or struggling with school,” Aragon said. “I think all the seniors and our fifth-year, Karen [Lesiewicz], have really tried to step up and fill the shoes. We had great seniors last year, and we were able to watch the seniors last year lead and help everybody along the way. We are just hoping to fill those shoes and do our best.”

Senior Danielle Aragon runs towards a second-place finish in last year’s National Catholic Championship at Notre Dame Golf Course.Wei Lin | The Observer

Senior Danielle Aragon runs towards a second-place finish in last year’s National Catholic Championship at Notre Dame Golf Course.

As for this year’s seniors, Aragon said she, Seidel and Sydni Meunier live together off-campus.

“It’s probably the best situation I could have,” she said. “Living with your teammates, we all keep each other accountable and kind of help each other make good choices as far as sleeping and eating and of course, training. We all know when we have a big workout coming and that kind of thing. It’s really nice to live with my teammates; I think we’re going to grow closer throughout the year just by being roommates.”

That chemistry will be important for the Irish this season as they move into the second year of associate head coach Matthew Sparks’ tenure. Aragon said there is a greater comfort level this year compared to last.

“Everything was new last year,” Aragon said. “Now we have a year under our belts having coach Sparks. He seems more comfortable and I think all the girls really like coach Sparks, they like his training program. I think it’s been a really good thing and this year, being used to his training, I think everyone’s going to do well.”

Though Sparks is in his second season, he is changing up the training program for the star runners on the team like Aragon and Seidel. Instead of competing in the opening meets of the season, Sparks plans to have Aragon and others do a separate training regime, a plan which Aragon said is good, because it will keep her rested and give her time to come back from a nagging injury.

“I have a bit of an injury right now, so that’s why [Sparks] is holding me back,” Aragon said. “But also Molly Seidel isn’t racing either and I think that’s just to kind of keep her fresher later in the season and make her ready for the meets that really count, like ACCs, regionals and nationals.”

Despite not racing much in the first part of the year, Aragon is staying focused on helping the team once she gets back.

“Right now I’m hoping to get healthy and be able to be a contributor at ACCs and nationals,” Aragon said. “As far as team goals, I think we hope to win ACCs and score in the top ten at nationals.”

And while it may be a few weeks until Aragon races, her impact should be felt — both on the course and off it.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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