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ND Cross Country: Walker eyes lofty season goals

Molly Sammon | Thursday, September 24, 2009

Irish senior Jake Walker was second to cross the finish line out of 231 competitors at Friday’s National Catholic Invitational, only a few seconds behind the race’s champion.

Walker ran the Burke Golf Course’s five-mile course in 24:59.1, which wasn’t exactly in line with his expectations heading into to the race.

“I was expecting to finish really high up in the race and possibly win,” Walker said. “I was not really that excited with the outcome but I got an idea of what adjustments and improvements need to be made throughout the season.”

The National Catholic Invitational was only the second meet of the season and far less competitive than the rest of the meets the 2009 season will bring for the team.

“National Catholic is our least important meet of the year, but as the season goes on the meets keeping getting more important,” said Walker.

For Walker, his most important goal for the remainder of the season is clear and succinct: becoming an All-American. To receive the honor, he must qualify for the NCAA championship race and place in the top-50.

“I have wanted to do this ever since I started running in college,” Walker said.

As a senior, this year marks his last chance to do so, but placing well in the National Catholic Invitational shows he has an excellent shot.

At the 2008 NCAA Championship meet, Walker came in 96th place. This season, he has his eyes set on placing in the top-15 at the national meet in Terre Haute, Ind. in November.

To prepare himself for meeting his goals for the season, Walker switched his summer training program.

“The summer training went really well because I stayed injury free for the most part,” Walker said. “I trained a little more conservative than past years to make sure I am at my best when the NCAA Championships roll around in November.”

Now that the season in back in full swing, Walker has a training plan that he hopes will increase his chances of a good performance when it counts the most.

“I am just working on getting in consistent training throughout the season and making small improvements every week,” he said.