October 23, 2013

Bulldogs Climb In The Polls

A strong performance at the Indiana State Pre-National Invitational has boosted the Butler men's and women's cross country teams in both the regional and national polls.  Both Butler teams recorded their biggest climb of the season.

A stellar finish by Butler's women, led by All-American Katie Clark (10th-place individual), caused quite the shakeup on the women's side.  After the Bulldogs' third place finish at the Pre-National Meet this past weekend, Butler moved up 13 spots in the national poll to number seven.  Butler finished ahead of seven nationally-ranked teams at the meet in Terre Haute, including Virginia, Oregon, Michigan, and Colorado -teams now ranked 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th, respectively.

"Katie Clark needed a good race," said head coach Matt Roe. "That was important for her individually. And she is seen as a leader; when we go up against the best teams in the country, the others feed off that."

The women's ranking is the highest in school history, erasing the No. 18 spot captured by the All-American Victoria Mitchell-led Bulldogs in 2005.  Butler's move in the national poll also gives the BIG EAST Conference three of the nation's top ten teams.  Georgetown and Providence are third and fourth, respectively.  Butler also moved up in the regional rankings, jumping to second place in the Great Lakes Region behind Michigan State.

But it wasn't just Butler's women causing a stir this week.  The men's team also moved up in both polls. Junior Tom Curr paced the Bulldogs at the Pre-National Meet, running the fastest time ever by a Butler athlete on the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course and placing eighth as an individual with a time of 23:40.10.  The Bulldogs finished in 11th place with one of the team's top runners sitting out the race with injury.

"Tom Curr was just incredibly impressive," Roe said. "To say he was going to go in and get eighth - that turnaround is remarkable from (his race at the Notre Dame Invitational) two weeks ago.

"(But) we obviously need to close the gap if we want to be a team contending for the national meet. And getting Harry (Ellis, who is out with a calf strain) back will be important."

While the squad has yet to crack the top thirty in the nation, which is required to make the official ranking list, Butler pulled three votes in this week's national poll. This tentatively puts them in a 36th-place spot. The Butler men also moved up to fifth place in the Great Lakes Region, behind Wisconsin, Michigan, Notre Dame and Indiana.

Butler's next race will be the Big East Championships, to be held in Wisconsin on November 2nd.

Contact:  Bethany Werge (bwerge@butler.edu)