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ND Cross Country

Irish set for NCAA championship

| Thursday, November 19, 2015

Notre Dame will look to finish the season strong and boost its national ranking this weekend at the NCAA championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

“We’ve got team goals and some individual goals,” Irish head coach Matthew Sparks said of the team’s upcoming race. “The individual goals start with [senior] Molly Seidel, who has been one of the top girls in the country and I’d like to see her challenge for the individual championship. And then our number two girl, [freshman Anna Rohrer], has been running with Molly all year. We’d like to come home with two All-American spots.”

“On top of those two, we need our three, four and five runners to be in the top 100. If they can do that, then we feel like we can finish in the top 12 or so overall. Right now, we’re ranked 15th, so we’d like to improve on that national ranking.”

The Irish women finished in second as a team at last weekend’s NCAA regional and earned an automatic bid to this weekend’s race.

Irish senior Molly Seidel, No. 265, leads the pack during the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 19, 2014, at Notre Dame Golf Course. Seidel won the race, and the Irish women won the event as a team.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish senior Molly Seidel, No. 265, leads the pack during the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 19, 2014, at Notre Dame Golf Course. Seidel won the race, and the Irish women won the event as a team.

At the Great Lakes regional, which took place in Madison, Wisconsin, the Notre Dame women took the top two individual spots, as Seidel placed in first and Rohrer was runner-up. Freshman Rachel DaDamio finished the day 21st, while graduate students Karen Lesiewicz and freshman Annie Heffernan finished 27th and 28th, respectively. Sophomore Ashlyn Rambo pulled in in 36th.

Sparks said he has similar expectations for Notre Dame’s top runners at this weekend’s national event.

“I think they can both be in the top 10. I think Molly has a little bit of an upper-hand obviously because she has been in so many national meets over her career that running in a national meet is not going to be overwhelming for her. She’s been in the limelight her entire career, and I don’t expect any freshman jitters out of her. She’s a very confident runner.

“Both of them are at different ends of their career with Molly being a senior and Anna being a freshman, but we expect big things out of both of them, and they’re both running for top-10 spots.”

As a team, the Notre Dame men did not qualify for Saturday’s race after their fourth-place finish at the Great Lakes regional. However, the Irish will be represented by senior Michael Clevenger, who will be participating individually after his third-place finish last weekend. This will be the second consecutive year Clevenger will be participating at the NCAA championship.

“Michael was in this thing a year ago as an individual but was there more as a tourist,” said Sparks. “He thought he was serious about it, but once the gun goes off, if you’re not ready to race, then things get tough on you. This time around, he’s a lot more focused and a lot more committed to running where he’s capable of running. He’s gunning for a top-40 spot.”

The NCAA championship is set to begin at noon Saturday.

legup_graphic_webZach Klonsinski | The Observer
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