Oct. 29, 2015

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame cross country team is prepped to compete in the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships Friday morning in Tallahassee, Florida. Hosted by Florida State at Apalachee Regional Park, the meet will feature four nationally ranked men’s teams, as well as five from the women’s contingent vying for the conference crown.

The showdown is slated to commence with the men’s 8k championship race at 9 a.m. The women’s 6k championship event will follow with a 9:45 a.m. scheduled start. Both races will be streamed live on ESPN3.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) will provide coverage of the event on the National Results Wall using crowd-sourced social media updates. Fans are encouraged to have an active role in generating Twitter/Instagram posts with live race updates and race photos: Link.

Name: 2015 ACC Cross Country Championships
Location: Tallahassee, Florida – Apalachee Regional Park
Schedule of Events:
Men’s Championship Race (8k): 9:03 a.m. (ET)
Women’s Championship Race (6k): 9:45 a.m. (ET)

Nationally Ranked Teams:
Men’s Teams
No. 2 Syracuse
No. 7 Virginia
No. 12 NC State
No. 18 Virginia Tech
Women’s Teams
No. 7 Virginia
No. 8 NC State
No. 16 Syracuse
No. 17 Notre Dame
No. 29 North Carolina

As the Fighting Irish prepare for the contest, here are the important news and notes to get a head start on the competition:

Notre Dame is one of five ACC women’s teams nationally ranked in the USTFCCCA weekly poll (Oct. 20). The Irish are posted 17th overall, which stands fourth among their conference counterparts. In the USTFCCCA Great Lakes regional rankings, Notre Dame jumped to second following a strong, 12th-place showing at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Michigan holds the top spot in the regional standings, while Big Ten foes Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue round out the top-five teams.

On the men’s side, Notre Dame is situated just inside the Top 10, ranking eighth in the Great Lakes region.

The 2015 edition of the ACC championships marks the third appearance for Notre Dame in the annual event.

On the men’s side, the Irish placed third with 105 points in their introduction at the conference showcase in 2013. Last season, Notre Dame earned seventh in the team competition, with Michael Clevenger leading the way individually. Clevenger, a senior from Decatur, Illinois, finished 21st overall. Notre Dame’s highest individual placing at the ACC championships came from Martin Grady, who placed fifth in 2013.

A pair of top-five performances precedes the Notre Dame women’s squad. The Irish have garnered fourth- and fifth-place team finishes in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Molly Seidel, a senior from Hartland, Wisconsin, stands as Notre Dame’s top finisher at the ACC championships thus far, claiming fifth last season.

Seidel, the runner-up at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and the reigning NCAA Outdoor 10,000-meter champion, is expected to contend for the title in the women’s race. Syracuse’s Margo Malone placed third at the ACC championships last season. She will return to the field, which also features newcomer and two-time USTFCCCA Cross Country Athlete of the Week Ryen Frazier from NC State.

Defending individual champion Martin Hehir of Syracuse will be a heavy favorite heading into the men’s race Friday. Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtin, who is coming off a first-place finish at Pre-Nationals, and Syracuse’s Justyn Knight, who placed runner-up at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, are also considered runners to watch.

Last season, Syracuse and North Carolina won team titles in the men’s and women’s competitions, respectively.

A runner-up finish courtesy of Seidel in the women’s championship race highlighted the Notre Dame cross country team’s performance at the seventh annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis. Ultimately, the Fighting Irish claimed 12th in the women’s team standings and placed 27th among the men’s team ranks. Historically a competitive field, the meet showcased 20 ranked women’s teams, as well as 17 of the top-30 men’s teams.

Setting her pace early in the race, Seidel led the pack after the 2k point. Neck-and-neck with Boise State freshman Allie Ostrander down the stretch, Seidel ultimately came up short of snagging the victory; however, her runner-up finish in a 6k time of 19:22.4 set the tone for her fellow Irish racers and secured her standing among the nation’s best.

“Our women did what we expected today,” Notre Dame associate head coach Matt Sparks said. “Molly (Seidel) and Anna (Rohrer) ran well and are establishing themselves as two of the better women in the country. We need to get a couple of other ladies healthy if we want to finish top-3 at the ACC championship in two weeks.”

Seniors Michael Clevenger and Timothy Ball continued to be steady, consistent finishers for the Irish men, placing 43rd (24:12.5) and 71st (24:17.8), respectively.

The 60th running of the previously known Notre Dame Invitational was special, not only for the diamond anniversary of the trademark event. This season the premier meet was named in honor of Joe Piane, the former Notre Dame cross country and track and field head coach.

Piane, a legend in both the collegiate and national ranks, retired following the 2013-14 campaign. Serving at the helm of the Irish program for 39 seasons, Piane concluded his career with the second-longest tenure of any Notre dame athletic coach in history – behind only former Irish baseball coach Jake Kline’s 42 seasons.

Coach Piane recapped his historic career with Jack Nolan, from Fighting Irish Media: Link

A headline grabbing freshmen class joined the Irish this season.

Hailed as the nation’s best by both FloTrack and milesplit.com, the women’s group includes a pair of five-star recruits – Anna Rohrer and Annie Heffernan – and one four-star standout – Rachel DaDamio. One of the roster additions specifically recognizable to the South Bend area is Rohrer. A local product from Mishawaka, Ind., Rohrer arrives at Notre Dame with several state and national awards, including the 2014-15 National Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

A trio of runners will look to have an immediate impact for the men’s team. Aaron Roe, who hails from Seattle, Wash., arrives with a cross country state championship to his name, while Joseph Suarez and Anthony Williams were multi-state qualifiers in Illinois and Indiana, respectively.

The Notre Dame men’s entries for the ACC Championships features:
Timothy Ball
Michael Clevenger
Chris Marco
Brent Kennedy
Calvin Kraft
Kevin Pulliam
Jacob Dumford
Anthony Williams

Representing the Irish women:
Molly Seidel
Anna Rohrer
Annie Heffernan
Rachel DaDamio
Karen Lesiewicz
Toni Finnane
Ella Fennelly
Sydney Foreman

For an inside look into the Notre Dame Cross Country/Track and Field program, follow the Fighting Irish on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

– Ashley Albertson, Athletics Communications Assistant Director