Irish and Illini set to make a splash
Zach Klonsinski | Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The times just keep getting better for Notre Dame as it powers through its fall schedule, and the Irish host Illinois this weekend at Rolfs Aquatic Center in their final home action this fall.Notre Dame (3-5) split dual meets against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech last weekend, but Irish interim coach Tim Welsh said he was pleased with what he saw in his team.
“I liked the resiliency we showed last week,” Welsh said. “I thought that we raced not only well, but better than we had the week before, which was better than the week before that. … The big challenge we faced last week was to go from night to morning, and that’s a preview of what [happens at] championship weeks where you have finals at night and then go and have preliminaries the next morning.
“You win championship meets at night, but you lose them in the mornings.”
Of the 20 total events, 18 swimming and two diving, the Irish posted victories in 10, with senior Allison Casareto claiming the top spot in the 1-meter dive. Despite the high number of wins, Notre Dame split the weekend, something Welsh said the team must work on as the season progresses.
“In simple terms, [Virginia Tech was] faster than we were across the spectrum of the meet,” Welsh said. “One of the things we are looking for is increased team depth. … Our short relays were very good. Our long relays were not very good.”
Welsh said the problem for the Irish was their inability to challenge Virginia Tech (6-2) from second through fourth places, which earn teams more points.
“That happened in both relays,” Welsh said. “It happened in the first relay and in the last relay. That’s a depth consideration. We have a couple big holes and [Virginia Tech] walked right through them.”
The two standout performers for the Irish last weekend, as they have been all season, were senior Emma Reaney and sophomore Catherine Mulquin. The pair combined for seven individual event wins while also being a part of both relay wins for the Irish. Although Welsh said he was thrilled with their performances, he was quick to point out they are not simply solo acts.
“[Reaney and Mulquin] did well because we had people like [junior] Catherine Galletti behind them,” Welsh said. “We have breaststrokers like [junior] Genevieve Bradford behind them. We have backstrokers in the [individual medley] like [sophomore] Katie Miller, and we have [seniors] Bridget Casey and Courtney Whyte [in the butterfly]. I mean, we’ve got people, and they’re doing a good job.”
When asked what he wanted to see out of the team against Illinois (3-2), Welsh said it would be a “toughness test” for the team.
“We previously raced three times in eight days,” Welsh said. “If you looked at this team in practice yesterday morning, it was a quiet, tired group. And yet, everybody knows that this has to be a full training week, and it is. And on the other side of the street, classes continue, and tests continue, and projects continue, so they have a lot on their plate, but I think what we are looking for Friday is to say, ‘Be tough. Just come in here, be tough.’ Be mentally tough, be physically strong and race competitively.”
With such a tired group, the meet’s early events will be key to determining which way the match will go, especially the first relays, Welsh said.
“I would say if you wanted an indication of how the meet was going to go, I’d watch the first event,” Welsh said. “The 200[-yard] medley relay is, on paper, very close. It’s a relay we are very proud of, and we are right here in our own pool. But as an indication of how the meet is going to go, take a look at that one.”
Notre Dame and Illinois will get their feet wet at Rolfs Aquatic Center starting Friday at 5 p.m.