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ND Cross Country: Irish participate in NCAA Midwest Regional

Megan Finneran | Monday, November 15, 2010

After a week of tapering in preparation, the Irish joined more than 30 teams this weekend for the NCAA Midwest Regional Saturday. The men placed third, finishing behind Wisconsin and Indiana, and the women took sixth.

The race, hosted at the Katke-Cousins Golf Course in Rochester, Mich., set the tone for the NCAA Championship next weekend.

“The team ran really well and we were pleased with how we placed. Coming into the meet we knew that a top-three finish would get us to Nationals, and that’s exactly what ended up happening,” Rae said.

Senior Dan Jackson continued his season-long streak, finishing at the top of the Irish line-up. Jackson came in at fourth place of over two hundred runners in the 10-kilometer race, coming in at 30:31.11. Only seconds later came sophomore Jeremy Rae, who took 16th place in 30:42.01, and junior Jordan Carlson, who crossed the line in 30:51.30 for 22nd place. All three earned all-region honors.

“I had never run a 10-kilometer race before, so I really did not know what to expect. Jordan Carlson and I had just planned on running together for as long as possible and beating as many Indiana, Ohio State or Michigan State guys as we could,” Rae said.

Junior Johnathan Shawel finished the race in 31:18.36 for 35th place. Freshman Martin Grady was not far behind at 40th place in 31:22.08. Junior Joe Miller and senior Mat Abernethy rounded out the Irish line-up in 31:43.98 and 33:24.02 to take 57th and 139th place.

“The team’s next step is to be competitive as possible at nationals. We’ve got a young team, so any experience we pick up this time around will help us for when we’re back at nationals next year,” Rae said.

The women were led by freshman Alexa Aragon, who completed the six-kilometer race in 21:25.22 to take 22nd place earning all-region. As with the men, a small gap existed between the first and second runner when junior Rachel Velarde crossed the line just seconds later at 21:43.83 for 41st.

“I did not achieve my goal I had coming into this race, but it was probably my best race of the season,” Velarde said.

The next three runners for the Irish piled in neatly back to back, with senior Erica Watson taking 45th in 21:47.16 and freshmen Kelly Curran and Meg Ryan taking 48th and 51st in 21:48.56 and 21:50.73.

Rounding out the line-up were sophomore Rebecca Tracy and senior Molly Hirt, who finished the race in 22:10.81 and 22:43.22 to earn 69th and 102nd place.

While they may not have advanced to Nationals, the women nonetheless have a fun memory to carry forward from this weekend.

“The best part of the experience was having the entire team on the sidelines wearing kilts and being the loudest cheerers out there. They gave us so much momentum during the race, and I can’t thank them enough for that,” Velarde said.

The men have a week to prepare before the NCAA Championship next Monday, Nov. 22 at Terre Haute, Indiana at noon. The women’s team concluded their fall season at regionals and now begins preparation for the indoor track season, which begins December 3 at Notre Dame’s Blue and Gold Meet.