Katie Clark Leads Butler To NCAA National Meet

Junior Katie Clark

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BREAKING NEWS:  The Butler women's cross country team has been selected as an at-large team for the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country National Meet in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17.  It's the third time in school history that the women's team has qualified for the national meet and the first time since 2005.

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MADISON, WIS. --Junior Katie Clark placed second in the individual competition and helped lead Butler to a fourth place team finish at the 2012 Great Lakes Regionals, hosted by Wisconsin on Friday (Nov. 9).  Butler's men, led by junior Ross Clarke, wound up ninth at the regional meet.

Clark, who won the Atlantic 10 Conference individual championship two weeks ago, narrowly missed the top spot, finishing three seconds behind individual champ Julie Accurso of Ohio.  Accurso posted a winning time of 20:07 on the 6K layout at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, while Clark finished in 20:10 to earn a bid to the NCAA national meet.

The finish by Clark was Butler's best in the Great Lakes Regional since 2005 and the second-best in school history.  Victoria Mitchell won the Great Lakes Regional title in 2005.  Butler's fourth place team finish matched the 2005 Bulldogs for the best finish in school history.

Clark was one of two Butler runners to earn All-Regional honors in the race.  Junior Kirsty Legg, who placed 18th in 20:49, joined her on the honor squad.

"Our women ran really well and put us in a good position to get an at-large bid to the national meet," said Butler head coach Matt Roe.  "We felt going in that we had to beat Notre Dame or Toledo, and we finished ahead of Toledo."

The Butler women placed four of their top five runners in the "Top 50" in the 218-runner field.  Sophomore Mara Olson came in 28th in 21:02, while senior Lauren McKillop finished 44th in 21:30.  Freshman Oliva Pratt was Butler's fifth runner, coming in 52nd in 21:35.  Senior Kaitlyn Love, who was 113th in 22:25, and junior Shelbi Burnett, who came in 116th in 22:26, rounded out Butler's top seven.

Clarke led Butler's men with a 30th place individual finish.  He covered the men's 10K course in 31:54, missing a "Top 25" finish and All-Region honors by six seconds.  Sophomore Harry Ellis came in 37th in 32:02, and senior Matt Proctor finished 68th in 32:28.

Rounding out Butler's top seven were senior Kevin Oblinger, who placed 71st in 32:46, sophomore Tom Curr, who came in 81st in 32:58, freshman Erik Peterson, who finished 97th in 33:13, and junior Tom Anderson, who wound up 125th in 33:44.

"Our men weren't at full strength," noted Roe.  "We had some injuries and illness and that took a toll.  But our runners did compete and gave everything they had."

Michigan and Michigan State claimed the automatic bids to the national meet in the women's competition, while host Wisconsin and Michigan landed the men's bid. 

The NCAA National Cross Country Championship will be held in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17.