Friday, August 9, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #14- Notre Dame

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Notre Dame
Head Coach: Joe Piane (39th Season)
2012 National Finish- 28th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Jeremy Rae (Sr., 3:38 1500m, 8:11 Open 3k, 13:59 5k)
  • Martin Grady (Sr., 14:20 5k, 29:14 10k, former outdoor nationals qualifier in 10k '11-20th)
  • J.P. Malette (Sr., 3:45 1500m, 8:16 Open 3k, 14:13 5k)
  • Walter Schafer (Sr., 8:23 Open 3k, 14:37 5k, All-Great Lakes Region '12)
  • Jake Kildoo (Jr., 8:13 Open 3k, 14:14 5k, 29:26 10k, East Regional Qualifier in 10k '12)
  • Michael Clevenger (So., 8:12 Open 3k, 14:21 5k)

Impact Recruits/Transfers 
  • Kris Moran (Fr., 4:13 1600m, 9:08 3200m, 10th NBON 2 Mile '12, 7th NBIN 2 Mile '12)
  • Scott Milling (Fr., 27th NXN '12, NXN Qualifier '11, 27th FL Finals '12)

Season Preview

The question for Notre Dame heading into the 2013 season is not whether they are going to be good, but how good? Getting Jeremy Rae and J.P. Malette one more year of eligibility was huge for the Irish as (before Rae got hurt) they were consistently the no. 1 and no. 3 runners for them. Coach Piane has developed these athletes so well and has patiently waited for them to all be seniors where they can do their most damage. 

If there was ever a year to jump on the Notre Dame bandwagon, this is it. Here's why:

Jeremy Rae is one of the best 1500m runners in the country who is also just as valuable out on the cross country course (Rae has good range, see his PRs above). Liken him to a Miles Batty, or Chris O'Hare, whose talents on the track do not only apply to the track, but he is this team's leader out on the course as well and must have a great year for the Irish to do what they are capable of. 

Martin Grady is one of the most underrated athletes in the NCAA. He is a pure cross country guy and was so close to All-American last season that he is definitely looking at a top-40 spot for 2013. Grady has qualified for Outdoor Track Nationals in the 10k (2012) and has been a pretty consistent 10000m runner for the last few years. 

J.P. Malette is a well-rounded athlete with good PRs ranging from 1500-5k. He is the perfect no. 3 runner because he provides stability to their pack of seven and should be the guy to keep the spread close and bring a few of his teammates with him. 

A few of those teammates include: Walter Schafer, Jake Kildoo, Patrick Lesiewicz and D.J. Thornton. These runners should make up the rest of the Irish top seven, but not forgetting to mention Michael Clevenger (a very good prep runner) and a few of the new additions. 

These new additions, Kris Moran and Scott Milling, are definitely capable of making their way into the top seven by the end of the season. Moran has solid experience on the track at the highest levels running well at both New Balance Indoors and Outdoors in the 2-Mile. Scott Milling is another pure cross country type that finished 27th at both FL Finals and NXN. This kind of practical experience, he could be ready to step right into the scoring picture. 

The Irish are definitely an ACC contender, one of the favorites at the Great Lakes Regional, and is certainly a top-15 caliber team. The good news for Notre Dame is that making NCAAs is almost guaranteed and with them being able to focus not on just making the meet, but racing well there, this could be one of the best Notre Dame teams Coach Piane has had in years.  

1 comment:

  1. While Chris Marco is more of a middle distance guy, he will be coming to Notre Dame with some pretty good track credentials: