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Sticking Together on the Biggest Stage

Nov 21, 2012, 12:19 PM EDT

Photo by Walt Middleton Photo by Walt Middleton

A lot of cross-country teams talk about running as a pack – but not many stick this close together. Senior co-captain Rebecca Tracy, sophomore Gabby Gonzales, and juniors Alexa Aragon and Kelly Curran finished 96th, 97th, 98th, and 100th – all within one second of each other – in the NCAA championships Saturday.

“The goal all season has been to run together,” Tracy said. We do it in workouts and we’ve done it for parts of races, but never had we quite gotten it together like Saturday. We hurt a little at five, but overall we really did a better job of racing with each other not just near each other.”

That pack pulled the women’s team into 15th place overall, the highest finish for the women’s team since 2005.

“I’m happy,” Tracy said about her run. “It was my last cross country race ever and I was able to say at the finish, I put it all out there today. The best part is I know in the coming years that the group is only going to move forward in the pack, and that is exciting.”

The men’s team finished in 28th place overall, hampered by the absences of senior Jeremy Rae and graduate student Johnathan Shawel, both of whom were out with Achilles injuries.

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Photo by Walt Middleton

“We definitely thought we could have run better. We knew going in that missing Jer and Shawel would hurt,” junior Martin Grady said. “Overall, we missed our goals from the start of the year by a good amount, but I think we take a lot from the race and return the scorers for next year.”

Although there were some concerns about the Louisville, Ky., course, Martin said it was not problematic after all.

“The course was actually a lot better than we had thought going in,” Martin said. “It got narrow early on, but nothing unbearable, we still had enough room to get around people.”

Martin said the Irish had one of the loudest cheering contingents at the meet.

“Outside of the number of people’s family members who showed up, we had the majority of our team, and a few alumni, there to support us,” Tracy said. “The meet itself had a great atmosphere, it was a great course and we had beautiful weather, but nothing beats Irish fans doing the football kickoff cheer for over two minutes while you stand at the start line waiting for the gun to go off.”

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