NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame men's and women's cross country teams each punched their ticket to participate in the 2012 NCAA Championship Saturday (Nov. 17) after capturing at-large bids last Friday (Nov. 9) during the NCAA Great Lakes Regional as the Irish finished third and fifth, respectfully. The 2012 NCAA Championship will be held at the E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The women's six-kilometer race will begin at noon (ET) followed by the men's 10-kilometer race at 1:15 p.m. (ET).
CHAMPIONSHIP RACE UPDATES: A live webcast will be available at NCAA.com and race results will be accessible at the race-timing site, deltatiming.com. Follow @NDXCTF on twitter for the most up-to-date news. Visit UND.com for a full recap and final result postings. Sign up for Irish alerts and receive meet updates straight to your mobile phone.
Thirty-one teams and thirty-eight automatic individual qualifiers were selected to participate in the championship.
LAST TIME OUT AT THE NCAA GREAT LAKES REGION MEET: (Women) Notre Dame finished third out of 32 teams and topped No. 27 Toledo, who was ranked No. 18 nationally at the time. In addition the Irish defeated 11 of the top 15 teams in the Great Lakes Region. Notre Dame compiled a total of 89 points finishing between second-place Michigan State (77 points) and fourth-place Butler (144 points). Junior Kelly Curran (Bloomington, lll.) finished 10th in the field of 218 participants with a time of 20:12. Senior Rebecca Tracy (Barrington, lll.) slide into 15th place with a time of 20:48 and freshman Molly Seidel (Hartland, Wis.) finished 19th with a time of 20:50. Sophomore Hannah Eckstein (Middletown, N.J.) placed 22nd with a time of 20:53 and junior Alexa Aragon (Billings, Mont.) finished 23rd with a time of 20:56. All five runners took all-region honors by finishing in the top-25.
(Men) The Irish finished fifth in a field of 30 teams despite their top runner, senior Jeremy Rae (Fort Erie, Ont.), retiring due to injury just past the two-kilometer mark. Notre Dame defeated 10 of the top 15 teams within the region. Junior Martin Grady (Burr Ridge, lll.) finished ninth (31:02), junior Walter Schafer (Centennial, Colo.) placed 18th (21:37) and senior J.P. Malette (Windsor, Ont.) took 23rd (31:46) to represent the Irish with all-region honors in the field of 204 participants. Notre Dame scored 122 points placing them behind fourth-place Michigan State (113 points) and ahead of sixth-place Miami (OH), who scored 214 points.
MEN'S TEAM AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Notre Dame will make its third-straight appearance in the championship meet as a team. The Irish have had a participant in the race 58 times since 1938 and have participated as a team 47 times. Notre Dame won the NCAA Championship in 1957. The Irish have finished runner-up three times (1938, 1944, 1945), claimed a top-five finish sixteen times and a top-ten finish 33 times. The last time the Irish finished in the top-five was in 2005 as Kurt Benninger (eighth-31:53) led Notre Dame to a third-place finish. Greg Rice (1938) and Oliver Hunter (1942) are the only Irish to ever win the event. Rice ran a winning time of 20:12 and Hunter left his mark with a 20:18 in the four-mile contest.
ALL-AMERICANS (Men): All-American selections are chosen by participants that finished in the top-40 at the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame has housed 30 honorees. Kurt Benninger, Tim Moore and Kaleb Van Ort each received All-American accolades in 2005 and were the last Irish to earn the honor. Oliver Hunter (1940-43) and Mike McWilliams (1990-93) are the only Irish to receive the award all four years.
2011 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP (Men): The Irish finished 24th out 31 teams, scoring 575 points. Notre Dame was just 37 points away from 23rd place Ohio State and held off 25th place Tulsa by five points. Rae led the attack as he finished 105th with a time of 30:49. Grady (110th-30:52), Malette (146-31:10) and junior Walter Schafer (Centennial. Colo.), who finished 192th with a 31:40, all return from last year's race. Wisconsin claimed the team title with 97 points and surpassed second-place Oklahoma State by 42 points.
WOMEN'S TEAM AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Notre Dame will make its second straight appearance in the championship meet as a team. Since beginning the team in 1980, the Irish have had a participant in the race on 14 occasions. The Irish have had six top-20 finishes and three top-three finishes. Notre Dame had their best performance in 2002 when Molly Huddle led the Irish to a third-place team finish after running a 19:55 and placing sixth overall. JoAnna Deeter (1996), who ran a 17:24 in the 5,000 meters, and Stephaine Madie (2005), who ran a 19:48 in the 6,000 meters, are the two highest finishers for the Irish as the pair each placed third.
ALL-AMERICANS (Women): Notre Dame has eight All-Americans in the history of the program. Molly Huddle (2002-05) and Lauren King (2001-03) each lead the Irish with three All-American accolades. Lindsey Ferguson (2009) was the last Notre Dame runner to receive the honor.
2011 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP (Women): Notre Dame finished 22nd out of 31 teams compiling 512 points. The Irish chased behind 21st place Toledo by 29 points and held off 23rd place N.C. State by six points. Curran was the top-finisher, crossing the finish line at 21:09. Sophomore Gabby Gonzales (Florence, Ky.) finished 128th (21:14) and senior Jessica Rydberg (Pinetop, Ariz.) finished 132nd (21:16). Aragon stopped the clock at 21:19 (141st), Tracy placed 115th (21:23), and junior McKinzie Schulz (Naperville, lll.) placed 237 (22:26). BIG EAST foe, Georgetown won the event last year with a score of 162 points, outlasting second-place Washington by eight points. The Irish finished just 32 points behind the Hoyas this year at the BIG EAST meet. Curran and Tracy each finished better than six of the eight Georgetown runners in the BIG EAST championship.
Following the NCAA Championship the teams will take a brief recess before the first indoor track and field meet of the 2012-13 season, the Blue & Gold Invitational, begins at 5 p.m. (ET) Dec. 7 at Loftus Sports Center.