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Four runners win All-America honors

Four Notre Dame runners are waiting this week for official word on their status as All-Americans on the track this year. All four are expected to win the award after a strong weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Championship meet in Eugene, Ore.

Senior Rebecca Tracy finished fourth in the 1,500 meter race Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

Seniors Rebecca Tracy and Jeremy Rae ad junior Alexa Aragon all ended their season with a top ten finish against the country’s best at Oregon’s iconic Hayward Field. Sophomore Carly Loeffel placed 15th in the heptathlon Friday, which should qualify her for a second-team All-American mention.

If they are all recognized as expected, it will be the ninth consecutive year that a member of the men’s team wins All-America honors. A member of the Irish women’s team has been an All-American every year since 1997 with the exception of 2011.

Tracy had the highest finish of the group, landing in fourth place overall in the 1,500-meter race. Tracy ran her best time of the year (4:14.42) in her final collegiate race. She missed third place by 0.12 seconds and was only a little more than one second behind national champion Natalja Piliusina from Oklahoma State.

“I had a handful of different scenarios that I said I’d be happy with. I figured if I finished in the top five I really could not complain,” Tracy said. “I was definitely excited to finish fourth. It was nice that I finally jumped over the 4:17 that I was stuck at pretty much all season.”

Tracy said the final heat started at “an honest pace” instead of the top runners taking their time and trying to turn the last lap into a 400-meter sprint. Onlookers later told her that the homestretch looked like it was playing out in slow motion with the entire group of runners jockeying for position.

Rae ran in a similar tightly-packed final in the 1,500 meters and finished fifth overall in 3:51.07. He was a few steps behind the pack of the top four finishers, who all finished within a quarter second of one another. Aragon, who ran two 3,000-meter steeplechases in a three-days span for the first time in her career, finished crossed the line in eighth place Saturday.

The distance runners did the most to represent Notre Dame in Oregon, which was not the case when the women won a Big East championship and the men claimed second place at the conference meet in early May.

“When it came to Big East it was definitely our sprinters that played the biggest role for us,” Tracy said. “We scored our points where we could, but the sprinters definitely carried us through.”

Junior Michelle Brown had the best finish of any of Notre Dame’s sprinters in Oregon, ending in 14th place in the 400-meter race. Her classmate Patrick Feeney ended his season with a 22nd place finish in the 400.

Tracy gradated from Notre Dame in May, but said she plans to return next season as a volunteer assistant coach while studying for a master’s degree in global health. Tracy was a second-team All-American in the 1,500 meters as a junior.

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