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ND Cross Country: Notre Dame takes seventh

Megan Finneran | Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Irish took part in the Pre-National Meet Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., competing against 19 of the top 30 teams in the country. The Notre Dame men took seventh place, while the women took 23rd in an invitational that served as a preview for the National Championships coming up next month.

“At the beginning of the season we were not ranked at all by the NCAA — no one thought we would have any sort of presence on the cross country course,” senior Dan Jackson said.

Since their first meet, the Irish have turned that perception around. Coming in first for the men was Jackson, who finished the eight-kilometer race 19th overall in 24:11.3.

“I was moderately pleased with my finish,” Jackson said. “The Pre-National race is one of the most competitive races in the entire country, and to finish inside the top 20 while still training hard in the weeks leading up to the race makes me confident that I can race better once I ease off my training and let my body recover.”

Following Jackson were Notre Dame juniors Jordan Carlson, who took 31st in 24:19.1, and Johnathan Shawel, who took 55th in 24:39.9. Sophomore Jeremy Rae finished 59th in 24:39.9.

“One of our biggest strengths as a team this year has been the small spread we have between our second to fifth guy,” Carlson said. “We feed off each other and work together as a group as much as we can and for as long as we can during the race. Sometimes it’s just whoever is feeling better that day.”

Completing the team finishes were freshmen Martin Grady at 61st in 24:40.7, senior Mat Abernethy at 121st in 25:16.0 and freshman Walter Schafer in 156th place in 25:39.4

“Seventh place is pretty good considering the number of ranked reams that were at the meet, but we know we have a lot left in the tank and have the potential to perform much better than we did,” Carlson said. “We are definitely going to surprise some people at the Big East next weekend.”

For the women, senior Erica Watson took 64th place overall, finishing the six-kilometer race in 21:23.1 Freshman Meg Ryan turned in a time of 21:38.5, good enough for 92nd place.

Following Watson came three close finishes for the Irish, with freshman Kelly Curran finishing 120th in 21:51.9, sophomore Rebecca Tracy at 132nd in 21:55.8 and junior Rachel Velarde at 139th in 21:58.9.

Juniors Molly Hirt and Susanna Sullivan rounded out the squad’s finish, taking 178th in 22:23.4 and 211th in 22:49.2 respectively.

Both teams compete next Saturday at the Big East Championships in Syracuse, N.Y.