Nov. 1, 2013
KERNERSVILLE, N.C. --- Head men's coach Joe Piane and head women's coach Tim Connelly both said that the University of Notre Dame cross country teams had the potential to have their best race of the season this weekend at their first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship meet. With both the men and the women at their fittest and healthiest of the season, the coaches expected great results.
Both teams clearly came to run, as the men placed third of 14 and the women claimed fourth of the 15 teams competing.
"The kids competed--both genders," Piane said. "That's the best they've raced all year. That's encouraging, and I think the future is very bright."
The men posted a score of 105 behind Syracuse and North Carolina, while the women finished with a total of 124 points, behind only Florida State, Virginia and Syracuse at Beeson Park in Kernersville, N.C. The meet was the first ACC Championship meet for former BIG EAST member Syracuse as well.
"Results overall show that the former BIG EAST teams had a good day here," Connelly said. "It just shows the strength of where we came from."
Senior Kelly Curran (16th) and junior Hannah Eckstein (20th) claimed all-ACC honors for the women's team and senior Martin Grady (fifth) and fifth-year student Jeremy Rae (11th) earned the honors for the men. Grady and Rae are both three-time all-conference performers while Curran is a two-time honoree.
Grady finished the 8-kilometer men's race with a remarkable time of 24:13.2, just 35.3 seconds behind the first-place finisher. Rae was just a few second behind with a time of 24:21.8. Senior J.P. Malette came in 26th place with a time of 24:26.9 and sophomores Michael Clevenger (27th) and Timothy Ball (36th) rounded out the Irish top five with times of 24:47.6 and 24:56.3, respectively.
"Jeremy ran well when you consider that he's been a little bit injured," Piane explained. "And Martin went right up to the front and stayed there; he competed with the best. But the runner I was really impressed with was Tim Ball because today was the first time he's run varsity all year and he was our fifth man."
Curran's performance continued her strong record for the season, and she finished the 6-kilometer race with a time of 20:55.8. Eckstein was right behind her at 21:08.7. Senior Alexa Aragon just missed the All-ACC honors mark with a 22nd place finish with a time of 21:14.1. Sophomore Molly Seidel finished 26th (21:23.1) and junior Gabby Gonzales finished in 41st (21:43.3) to fill out the top five women for the Irish.
Connelly said that it was a good day for many of his runners but that a few were not as sharp as they have been in recent weeks.
"We were hoping to be top three," said Connelly. "We had some really good races, but we also had a few kids struggle. I thought Hannah Eckstein had a great race and Molly Seidel had an especially great race considering that it was her first in six weeks. But we couldn't get five great races together, and we're still not quite there, unfortunately."
Notre Dame will travel to Madison, Wis., in two weeks for the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals Nov. 15, where they will look to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Connelly says that in the coming weeks, the team will focus on less mileage and more intensity in practice to get all of the runners to where he knows they can be.
--Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant
Men's Team Results (14 Teams)
3. Notre Dame - 105 Points
Men's Individual Results (129 Runners)
5. Martin Grady - 24:13.2 (all-ACC)
11. Jeremy Rae - 24:21.8 (all-ACC)
26. J.P. Malette - 24:46.9
27. Michael Clevenger - 24:47.6
36. Timothy Ball - 24:56.3
46. Jake Kildoo - 25:09.4
48. Walter Schafer - 25:11.8
54. Patrick Lesiewicz - 25:17.3
109. Christopher Quinn - 26:54.4
Women's Team Results (15 Teams)
4. Notre Dame - 124 Points
Women's Individual Results (140 Runners)
16. Kelly Curran - 20:55.8 (all-ACC)
20. Hannah Eckstein - 21:08.7 (all-ACC)
22. Alexa Aragon - 21:14.1
26. Molly Seidel - 21:23.1
41. Gabby Gonzales - 21:43.3
45. Danielle Aragon - 21:47.8
52. Emily Frydrych - 21:54.7
70. McKinzie Schulz - 22:09.3
73. Sydni Meunier - 22:11.7
99. Karen Lesiewicz - 22:43.4