ND Cross Country
Rohrer outpaces pack as Notre Dame wins at home
Marek Mazurek | Monday, September 21, 2015
Young blood was the theme for Notre Dame this weekend, as both the Irish men and women cruised to first-place finishes at the 36th National Catholic Championships behind strong performances from underclassmen.
Highly-touted freshman Anna Rohrer led the Irish women’s team and won the five-kilometer race in 17:20.7. Despite racing out to the individual win, Rohrer said she was happier for her team’s win than her own.
“It was exciting,” Rohrer said. “I would say it wasn’t as exciting winning as it was to have my team do well. I’ve never been on a team that has people running so close to each other. It was just a lot of fun to able to race cross country again.”
Irish associate head coach Matt Sparks also praised Rohrer, saying he knew the Mishawaka native would perform well in her first collegiate event.
“We knew [Rohrer] was strong and was going to put on a good show today,” Sparks said. “She ran with a group for a good two and a half miles and then put on a great surge the last half-mile. I know she was chomping at the bit to let loose a little bit.”
Though Rohrer impressed in her debut, Sparks said he was looking for more from his other runners.
“We would like to have seen a little stronger group together honestly,” Sparks said. “From a point total, I know we won pretty convincingly, and it was a lot of freshman so I know I can’t be disappointed. I’d like to see some of those girls run with more confidence. … We need to get some of those girls closer to where [Rohrer] was.”
Following Rohrer in the 5K for the Irish were freshmen Annie Heffernan (17:33.9) and Rachel DaDamio (17:43.4), who finished third and fifth respectively, as well as graduate student Karen Lesiewicz (17:46.0) and sophomore Sydney Foreman (17:50.2), who finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
In the men’s eight-kilometer race, seniors Timothy Ball and Michael Clevenger led the way for the Irish, finishing third and fifth respectively in 25:09.2 and 25:10.9.
However, Sparks said he was most impressed by the emergence of sophomores Calvin Kraft and Kevin Pulliam, who both finished in the top ten.
“It was a good step for some of the younger guys,” Sparks said. “ … We knew going into today that we were going to have to count on some younger guys to make some big contributions. We knew Tim Ball and Mike Clevenger were going to be good leaders for us up front. Kevin and Calvin put in a good summer of mileage and are coming off a strong track season.”
Like the women, however, Sparks said he felt the men could have done better.
“One thing I would have liked to see [the men] do is finish a little bit better the last mile,” Sparks said. “We had five [runners] in the top ten early in the race. That’s what we wanted to do, we just wanted to hold on to five in the top ten the entire race. Four of those guys held on, we just need to get that fifth guy back where he should [be]. [Junior] Chris Marco was second in this race last year and faded to be our fifth man and was in the 20s somewhere. We’ve got the roster pieces there, we just need to put the pieces back in place.”
Sparks said the National Catholic Championship was a good opportunity to build confidence for the squad’s underclassmen.
“I think it’ll just give them a peace of mind that they’ve got that first college race out of the way,” Sparks said. “And that’s really what that was for all of them. With that comes confidence.”
The Irish have this weekend off before hosting the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 2.