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Track and Field

Nathan Richartz pushes for NCAA spot

| Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When the Irish compete in the ACC indoor championships in two weeks, Nathan Richartz’s name is unlikely to be the first one mentioned. That honor will likely go to senior All-Americans Molly Seidel or Margaret Bamgbose.

Though he often doesn’t get same level of recognition as some of the team’s stars, the junior pole-vaulter also plays a big role in Notre Dame’s success.

So far this season, Richartz has placed first at three competitions: the Blue & Gold Invitational, the Notre Dame Invitational and the Meyo Invitational. Richartz said his early success stems from his mental preparation.

“I would attribute my success thus far to overall mental toughness” Richartz said. “I have matured a lot as a vaulter in my time at Notre Dame and have learned to trust myself in high-pressure situations. But it is not just big moment, meet-day mental toughness, another aspect I’ve been working on is daily focus and attention to detail, which helps me get the most out of my training and practice sessions.”

Junior Nate Richartz competes in the pole vault, which he won, at the Meyo Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 6.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Junior Nathan Richartz competes in the pole vault, which he won, at the Meyo Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 6.

And though he may get overshadowed by the likes of Seidel and Bamgbose, Richartz sees the team’s star power as a positive and uses the success of his teammates to push himself towards higher achievements.

“Molly [Seidel] and Margaret [Bamgbose] are incredible runners and are hands down a couple of the most accomplished and reputable athletes on the squad,” Richartz said. “So yeah, from the outside looking in I can see how It might seem I could be overlooked. But I wouldn’t say I feel overlooked. The support I get from the coaches and the rest of the team goes along way in making me feel I am a part of something bigger, something more than myself or any individual accomplishments. I draw a lot of inspiration from the success of my fellow teammates, and their success motivates me to do better and raise my expectations of what I’m capable of, and what Notre Dame track and field is capable of as a whole.”

High expectations may be new to Richartz this year, but success is not. Last season, Richartz earned second-team All-American honors after placing 14th in the NCAA outdoor championships. Richartz said that after last year’s success, he has even higher hopes for this year.

“Last year was a pleasant surprise, so I had to take a step back and re-evaluate my goals for this season,” Richartz said. “As a season-long goal, I’d like to jump 5.50 [meters]. This might sneak me into trials but it ultimately depends on how high other people jump this year, it could be 5.55 or 5.60, but we [coach Jim Garnham and I] think 5.50 has a good chance. I’d like to qualify for the NCAA indoor championships, and earn first-team All-American status at the NCAA outdoor championships.”

To earn All-American status for a second straight season, Richartz will have to continue improving — his season’s best is 5.30 meters — but he is optimistic about improving.

“I’ve always been my own biggest critic, and I feel that maintaining a critical mindset is particularly important to success in the pole vault,” Richartz said. “One thing I’m most excited about moving forward towards the ACC championships is there are plenty of things I can still improve in my technique to make my vault more efficient, along with getting on bigger poles.

“The plan is to tackle one thing at a time and continue with a critical mindset to keep improving. I take comfort in finding what little details I can improve on, because the day I have nothing left to fix technically is the day I won’t be able to go any higher.”

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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