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Track and Field

Molly Seidel takes home two titles at ACC championships

| Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Notre Dame placed third in the women’s competition and seventh in the men’s competition at the ACC indoor championships this past weekend in Boston.

Irish head coach Alan Turner said the results matched his expectations for the meet.

For the men, we traveled a squad of 16 men,” Turner said. “We do not have the depth as in the past, and we had a handful of injured athletes, so we knew that we couldn’t contend for a team title. The focus was having the guys at the meet focus on their main event, meaning I didn’t enter them in multiple individual events, and score as high as they could.”

The women’s team took a more aggressive approach to the meet, according to Turner, entering its top runners in several events.

“On the women’s side, we were loading up and trying to win the meet,” Turner said. “Anyone who could possibly score a point in an event, we entered them in it. Several of our top athletes were entered in more than one individual event. My expectation was to put us in the best position to win the women’s ACC team title; we did that, just came up a little bit short of pulling out the win.”

The weekend concluded with several impressive performances on both the men’s and the women’s sides. Defending 10,000-meter national champion Molly Seidel broke the ACC all-time record in the women’s 5,000-meter race with a time of 15:19.64 and broke the ACC-meet record in the 3,000-meter race the next day. Irish freshman Anna Rohrer took second place in both events, and the two led the team by earning 36 of the total 82 points.

Senior Molly Seidel competes during the Meyo Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 6. Seidel set the school’s all-time record with a time of 8:57:13 during her 3000-meter run at the event.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Senior Molly Seidel competes during the Meyo Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 6. Seidel set the school’s all-time record with a time of 8:57:13 during her 3000-meter run at the event.

“Molly Seidel’s performances have almost become commonplace, so that wasn’t a surprise,” Turner said. “We knew she would win the [3,000 meters] and [5,000 meter] races, but putting up the No. 4 women’s indoor [five kilometer] performance in collegiate history was huge and breaking the ACC meet record and ACC all-time record.”

Turner said he was also proud of Rohrer and predicted her having a bright future at Notre Dame.

“In any other year, Anna Rohrer would be the talk of the conference,” Turner said. “What she has done as a freshman is incredible. Anna is one the NCAA elites, and she will, if she remains healthy throughout her collegiate career, become our most decorated track and cross country athlete.”

Turner attributed Rohrer’s standout performances to the work of distance coach Matt Sparks.

“[Sparks] has done a tremendous job with them this year, making sure they are well trained, healthy and ready to put up championship performances when it matters the most,” Turner said.

On the men’s side, junior pole vaulter Nathan Richartz and freshman high jumper Matthew Birzer each beat out highly ranked competitors to finish the weekend with Richartz in first place and Birzer in second in their respective events.

“Nate Richartz in the pole vault broke our school record and won the ACC title over several Virginia Tech vaulters who were ranked ahead of him,” Turner said. “He went 17-11 [5.46 meters] and had several good attempts at 18-1. Hopefully he’ll get that 18-footer at the NCAA championships and come back an All-American.”

Birzer was projected to finish eighth in the high jump but ended the meet in second place with a personal best of 2.10 meters. Turner said Birzer’s underdog mindset helped him pull out the second place showing.

“He was in the zone, emotionally and physically, and just put it all together at the right time,” Turner said. “He trusted his training and just went out there and competed. He wasn’t highly ranked, and he had nothing to lose, with no pressure. His performance actually spurred our men’s team on. The men’s high jump was the first individual event on Friday during most of the preliminaries, and our team saw how well this unheralded freshman did, and it inspired [them].”

Looking towards the future, Turner is optimistic about the team’s prospects as it enters the outdoor season.

“We are a very good team, especially the women,” Turner said. “The ACC is ranked the No. 2 conference for women’s track & field, and we just missed winning it by a very thin margin. One more inch here or there or a place here or there in an event, and we win the title. The women have been on the verge of winning an ACC title the last couple of years. We will again be hungry to get the ACC title at the outdoor championships in May. What can be learned from the meet, is what I emphasized to the team right before the meet, that every point counts and that everyone contributes to the team success.”

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