Oct. 29, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Racing against some of the nation's best, the Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams both finished sixth at the 2011 BIG EAST Championships held in Louisville, Ky., at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park on Saturday morning. Sophomore Martin Grady and junior Jeremy Rae each earned all-BIG EAST accolades after finishing 10th and 12th, respectively. Junior Jessica Rydberg led the Notre Dame women for the fifth consecutive race, placing 18th.
The men's 8K race featured two other ranked teams in addition to the No. 29 Irish in No. 14 Providence and No. 16 Villanova. Grady and Rae stayed within 15 seconds of the lead for much of the race to net the top 12 finishes. Grady crossed the line in 23:52.2, with Rae following closely behind in 23:55.4. The all-conference honors marked the third in two years for the Irish men, as former Notre Dame runner Dan Jackson placed 12th last season.
"Both ran extremely well," said men's head coach Joe Piane. "Martin was the highest placing sophomore and Jeremy was the second highest placing junior."
Following Grady and Rae and also placing in the team scoring were junior J.P. Malette (27th, 24:19.8) and seniors Jordan Carlson (34th, 24:28.9) and Kelly Lynch (38th, 24:37.4). "We ran pretty well as a team, but everyone knows they can get better," said Piane. "We will work on that the next couple of weeks in getting ready for regionals."
In the women's race, the No. 23 Irish ran against an impressive field that featured seven teams in the USTFCCCA national top 30 poll.
Rydberg was within 10 seconds of the top of the field for most of the race, sitting at 11:14 at 3,300 meters. The Pinetop, Ariz., native held on for 18th place, finishing the 6K in 20:41.2. She missed all-conference accolades by just three spots and under seven seconds.
Following behind Rydberg were sophomores Kelly Curran and Alexa Aragon. Curran finished 26th in 21:02.2, while Aragon was one spot lower in 27th, finishing in 21:03.5. Also scoring for the Irish in the team standings were freshman Gabby Gonzales (31st, 21:12.6) and senior Rachel Velarde (34th, 21:16.8).
"Today was a good overall team performance, with runners one through five finishing closer together than in the past meets," said women's head coach Tim Connelly. "It was definitely a step in the right direction as we head into the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet. We are definitely closer to being the team I thought we were capable of being than we were two weeks ago, but there is still some work to do to get there."
Villanova swept both races, with the men winning with 43 points and the women with 54 points. Eric Finan from Cincinnati won the men's race in 23:17.7. Villanova's Sheila Reid claimed the women's crown in 19:40.9.
Notre Dame will compete in the Great Lakes Regional in two weeks in Toledo, Ohio.
Men's Team Results (14 Teams)
Men's Individual Results (123 Runners)
Women's Team Results (16 Teams)
Women's Individual Results (138 Runners)