Track and Field
ND travels to ACC Championships
Andrew Robinson | Thursday, February 26, 2015
Seeking to cap off a strong season and make a statement in their second year in the ACC, the Irish will compete Thursday through Saturday for the ACC indoor championships, hosted at Virginia Tech’s Rector Field House in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Notre Dame will have 45 athletes — 26 on the No. 24 women’s side and 19 on the men’s — competing in the upcoming conference championship, with at least one athlete in almost every event.
Irish coach Alan Turner said the athletes are focused and ready for the big stage, in which past performances — whether good or bad — are set aside, and one-time performance determines the participants’ fates.
“The thing about our sport as opposed to other team sports is that we can focus the year on just a few competitions,” he said. “This is one of them. About a week and a half ago, we started … tapering our [training] to focus on things that are explosive and speed-oriented.”
On the men’s side, senior and seven-time All-American Chris Giesting will be competing for the first time since the Razorback Invitational the last weekend of January, and junior distance runner Michael Clevenger has been battling flu-like symptoms the past few days.
Turner said both runners are important to the team score, and he expects them to be in top form their respective races. Giesting will run in the 200 meters, 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay, while Clevenger will compete in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races.
“Right now we’re also focusing on rest … and giving [the beat-up runners] a chance to be refreshed so they can really be at peak performance for this meet,” Turner said.
Turner added junior Brent Swanberg, who is the second-ranked ACC competitor for the heptathlon, will be a strong contender in that event.
Turner said he expects the Irish women to contend for the ACC team title, as well as several individual titles. The team jumped to the No. 24 rank in the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings and currently holds third place in the ACC. Seven school records have been broken on the women’s side so far this season.
Among the highlighted performers is junior distance runner Molly Seidel, who will be aiming for victory in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, in which she is seeded second and first, respectively.
Junior middle distance runner Danielle Aragon, who has the second-best mile time in the ACC this season (4:38.73), will compete in the mile as well as the 3,000.
After mixed results early in the season, senior Jade Barber, who earned All-American honors and a conference title in the 60-meter hurdles last year, scorched the Alex Wilson Invitational last weekend with a conference-best time of 8.22 in that event. Barber will also run the 60-meter sprint.
“We should definitely be in the top three [on the women’s side], and if everything ends up right for us, we have a chance to win it,” Turner said. “We’re training everyone to have a peak performance here. We’ve done all the things we need to do in training, and I expect a lot of my athletes will have their best performances of the season. “
The Irish will kick off the ACC indoor championships on Thursday at Virginia Tech’s Rector Field House in Blacksburg, and the meet will continue through Saturday.