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Track and Field

Irish runners, pole vaulter gear up for NCAA indoor championships

| Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Seven athletes will represent Notre Dame at the NCAA indoor championships at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium this weekend.

Sophomore Anna Rohrer will run the 5,000-meter run after winning the event at the ACC championships with a time 15:38.11, good for the fifth spot in the national rankings.

“When Anna’s in shape, and she’s in pretty good shape right now although she had to push herself to get the qualifying time at ACCs, we look for her finish in the top three,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said. “She’s peaking at the right time and she’s healthy. [At nationals], Anna has to make sure she runs an honest pace. She can’t sit back and wait for a kick because she doesn’t have that big, finishing kick that some of the other girls have, so she’s going to have to go out there and push the pace, so don’t be surprised if she takes the lead at the half-mile or mile point and just runs. She’s accustomed to leading from the front, so that going to be her strategy.”

The women’s distance medley relay team will also compete after winning ACCs in a time of 11:02.32, featuring senior Jamie Marvil, juniors Payton Miller and Jessica Harris and sophomore Kelly Hart. Junior Ashlyn Rambo is a potential alternate for the mile leg in the race, as Harris will be competing in the individual mile after winning the event at ACCs with a personal record of 4:33.80.

Irish junior Jessica Harris sprints to the finish line during the distance medley relay at the ACC indoor championships on Feb. 23.Ann Curtis

Irish junior Jessica Harris sprints to the finish line during the
distance medley relay at the ACC indoor championships on Feb. 23.

“The dilemma we’re going to have in the DMR is if Jess qualifies for the mile final,” Turner said. “She’s scheduled to anchor, but she’s only going to run in the DMR if she doesn’t make the finals in the mile. It’s a bit of a doubled-edged sword, because we won’t have anyone at Jess’ level in the mile. We told the other three to just run lights out, and told Ashlyn to just run as hard as she can and hold on to the lead. We have the chance to be first-team All Americans for the fifth straight year in the DMR, so I hope we get that.”

Despite the difficulty Harris’ dual qualification poses from a team perspective, Turner was excited to see her compete as an individual in the mile, he said.

“This is [Harris’s] first time going as an individual,” Turner said. “She’s also peaking at the right time, and she’s still a novice when it comes to running the mile. So whatever pace [the mile group] runs, Jess is going to be right there with them. If the pace is too slow, she shouldn’t be afraid to push it over that last half mile. She has the speed to compete with anybody since she started as an 800 runner and has even run some good 400-meter times — so she has the wheels. She can catch you at the end, she’s ultra-confident right now, and she’s running as well as anybody, so we look for her to be in the top five.”

Senior pole vaulter Nathan Richartz, who broke his own school record with a 5.50-meter clearance at the Tiger Paw Invitational at Clemson earlier this season, is the sole competitor at nationals for the men’s squad.

“Nate was eight last year [at nationals],” Turner said. “Pole vault’s that one event that’s unpredictable, but Nate’s been pretty consistent all year, and if he’s anywhere near 18 feet, he’s going to be first-team All-American. He’s had some really good attempts this year at [18-foot-1 and 18-foot-2], and if he can clear that level, he has a shot to be in the top three or four.”

The following weekend, Notre Dame will begin its outdoor season when it travels to the Yellow Jacket Invitational, although Turner said the whole team isn’t making the trip down to Atlanta.

“We’re just going to be taking our sprinters, jumpers and throwers; the distance people will not be going,” Turner said. “[Distance] is going to compete the following weekend at North Carolina State at the Raleigh Relays. At Georgia Tech, we’ll be looking to get our feet wet — our throwers are anxious to get outside and do something other than the shot put — and I’m looking forward to see what my sprinters can do.”

The NCAA indoor championships will start Friday and finish Saturday in College Station, Texas.

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