Nov. 22, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Alex Lundy's qualification for Monday's NCAA Division I Cross Country Nationals has sent people scrambling through the record books.
The University of Maryland sophomore from Littleton, Colo., qualified as an individual for the Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., with his 10th-place finish last Saturday at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Princeton.
Lundy's feat marks the first time in recent memory that a Terrapin cross country runner has qualified for nationals. The record books are sketchy in terms of the exact time a Maryland runner achieved that feat.
What is definitely known is that Maryland last appeared as a team in the NCAA Nationals in 1976, when the men placed 17th as a team.
What is also known about the 2008 appearance of Lundy at Nationals is that his effort has given the Maryland track and cross country program another milestone under the direction of head coach Andrew Valmon.
"This is an enormous accomplishment considering how long it has been since we had someone from the sport of cross country at the NCAA meet," said Valmon, in his fifth season as cross country head coach.
"This speaks to the level of commitment to excellence we're striving for from all six of our programs," Valmon said, referencing also the men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field programs.
For his part, Lundy's trip to nationals is a fitting result of the season. His first two performances - an individual win at the Mount St. Mary's Duals and a second-place finish at the Navy Invitational - earned him recognition as ACC Performer of the Week.
"Alex has been a model of consistency all season long and he showed why he was the ACC Performer of the Week twice this season," said Valmon.
He also had top-10 finishes at George Mason (ninth) and the Princeton Invitational (third).
"Alex is such a bright and humble kid," said Terry Weir, the Terps' distance coach. "He is the nice guy next door who always looks at the glass half-full.
"But under all that Mr. Nice Guy stuff, Alex has a nasty competitive instinct. Once the gun goes off, he is tough as nails and is not afraid to push his body - or someone he's competing against for that matter - to places they haven't been before.
"For most people, pushing yourself to that unknown is a very scary thing," said Weir. "But Alex seems to understand that's what it takes to be an elite competitor."
Weir said Lundy will be ready for the course in Terre Haute.
"Alex is from Colorado and he's had some of his best high school cross country races in the Midwest," said Weir. "The course can run soggy and a bit slow if it rains or snows, and they're calling for a little bit of both right now. That will benefit Alex, as he is a strong, grind-it-out runner.
"But no matter what the condition of the course is in, he tends to rise and race with the competition. But if it's wet, cold and snowing, I'm sure he's going to have a smile on his face."
To become Maryland's first male All-American in cross country since 1974 (Dan Rincon) and first Terp All-American in cross country since 1988 (Rosalind Taylor), Lundy would need a top-40 finish at nationals.
"With the exception of the World Cross Country Championships, the NCAA Division I Nationals is the most competitive cross country meet in the world," said Weir. "It brings 255 of the best collegiate runners this country has to offer and many of the top under-24 foreign athletes competing in the U.S. system.
"Needless to say, placing in the top-40 is a lofty and challenging goal, but that's Alex."