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Track and Field

Irish look to continue success at NCAA championships

| Friday, May 19, 2017

Although the Irish had a tough season filled with injuries, multiple individuals broke personal and school records to carry the team in 2017.

“You would want a normal trajectory kind of heading up, but it kind of looks like a stock chart, but it has been upwards as a whole,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said on the progression of the team. “And I say that because I am talking about my women’s team right now. Getting everyone healthy and as of right now our top athletes have been our distance ladies. Throwers have been pretty solid, [senior] Indi Jackson has been doing well and my short hurdlers have been coming along pretty well.”

“ … We’re going to need a lot of point production from the sprints and the throws to help our distance runners so we can improve on that fifth-place finish we had indoors. Of course we are expecting [sophomore] Anna Rohrer to lead the way for us and also [junior] Jessica Harris and [graduate student] Danielle Aragon. Those three have been having an outstanding outdoor season.”

With the women’s side relying on the distance runners to lead at the ACCs, the men are mostly relying on the throwers and field players to pick up the team.

“Men’s sprints we have just been totally devastated by injuries,” Turner said. “But we do have [freshman] Troy [Pride Jr.] who is going to run for us and I think he is going to make the finals in the 100 and the 200. [Sophomore] Zach Zajdel, former soccer guy, he’s run pretty well in the 200 so hopefully he can sneak in that final. [Junior] Drake [Stimson] was in the finals last year for the 400 in hurdles. Our throwers have been pretty solid all season. [Senior] Anthony Shivers broke his own school record again in the hammer throw. [Freshman] Logan Kusky has come along well in the hammer and so has [freshman] Shae Watkins in the shot and hammer. All those guys are top 12 in the conference so I think we can get some good points out of the throwers.”

“… For the field side, you have [sophomore] Matthew Birzer in the high jump, he’s been runner up a few times in the ACC and he has been very consistent. Then you have [senior] Nathan Richartz in the pole vault, he has been over 18 feet three times, but he is going to have his hands full because Georgia Tech has a couple 18 footers as well. So if he is on, he will pull off a victory. On the distance end, the guys just really have to show up, like [seniors] Jacob Dumford and Chris Marco who’ve run the 1500-meters. These guys were the finalists in the mile indoors so I expect to see the same outdoors there. In our longer distances, [junior] Brent Kennedy is going to be running the 10,000-meters, he is rested and ready to go. I think he can definitely score some points. [Junior] Kevin Pulliam, he ran well and I think we can get some points in the 5,000 and 10,000 as well too.”

Knowing the team will not be winning an ACC title, Turner plans on watching his women’s distance runners ending on a high note and returning next year, while the men’s side will have fresh runners coming in to improve the team.

“I don’t think we have enough athletes now to win an ACC title,” Turner said. “Some teams in front of us are really going to have to mess up and we’d have to give everything at the same time to win, but I don’t see that happening. Molly Seidel isn’t going to be running at the ACC this year. She is going to be running at the regionals, we think she has two good races left in her this season, so we will see what happens there.

“ … [Sophomore] Anna Rohrer should definitely be at the Nationals unless there’s a disaster at the regional meet. [Junior] Jessica Harris will be in the 800 and Dani Aragon will be in the 1,500. So I think those four women can go to nationals and become first-team All-Americans and score a good number of points so we can at least be in the top 20 nationals. As for the women, we don’t have a lot of people leaving except for Molly [Seidel] and Danielle [Aragon]. But the bulk of the team is returning … For the men’s side we have totally reloaded with distance. We are bringing in a ton of guys for distance. We are going to be new and improved when it comes to distance, I put a lot of my eggs in that basket.”

Turner’s comments were backed up in a number of ways at the ACC Championships this past weekend.

While the men finished 12th overall and the women seventh, the team had a number of standout individual performers. On the men’s side, Richartz captured his second career ACC title in the pole vault with a 5.27 meter jump. Dumford came in 10th in the 1500-meters with a time of 3:48.59, and Pride Jr. earned second team All-ACC with a sixth place finish.

On the women’s side, Anna Rohrer had a stellar weekend with two titles in the 10,000-meters and the 5,000-meters. In the 1,500-meters, Aragon and Harris both finished in the top five, coming in second and fourth, respectively, good enough for All-ACC honors.

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