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Seidel, Rohrer return from illness to lead ND to third

| Monday, October 5, 2015

The Irish received their first test of the season Friday, with the women’s team finishing third and the men’s team finishing 10th as 10 nationally ranked teams competed in the Joe Piane Invitational.

All-American senior Molly Seidel and freshman Anna Rohrer led the 20th-ranked Irish women in the five-kilometer race. Seidel finished third with a time of 16:28.3, and Rohrer finished eighth with a time of 16:46.8.

Both Seidel and Rohrer battled illnesses early in the week, and Irish coach Matthew Sparks said he was content with the pair’s result.

“Talk about a stressed out week for the coach,” Sparks said. “Molly Seidel, we made a game-time decision for her to even run. She’d been sick the first three days of school this week with the flu, didn’t run Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. We hit the brakes with her in the middle of the race. … Her running at 90 percent was still good enough for third place today.

“If you’d asked me on Monday, I’d have thought Anna [would not run], but Molly would have been fine,” said Sparks. “[Rohrer] recovered well throughout the week. Our first exams at Notre Dame were two weeks ago, two weeks later all that sickness catches up with them.”

In addition to facing illness, the Irish were up against tough competition; Top-ranked New Mexico and No. 16 North Carolina State took first and second in the women’s meet. Sparks said his team can learn from the experience, despite finishing behind the two squads.

“It was a good experience for the freshmen girls, who have never been in this type of field before,” Sparks said. “Most of these girls haven’t been beat for a couple of years, even at the state level, not just Anna, but Annie [Heffernan] and Rachel [DaDamio]. And for them to get lost in the shuffle, it’s a bad experience, but it’s a good experience for them to learn and try to figure out how to better manage the crowds.”

On the men’s side, the Irish finished in 10th place behind first-place UTEP, second-place North Carolina State and third-place Colorado State. Senior Michael Clevenger led the way for the Irish, finishing 12th in a time of 24:01.3 on the five-mile course. Senior Tim Ball and junior Chris Marco rounded out the top three for the Irish, finishing 24th and 35th with times of 24:19.2 and 24:28.5, respectively.

Sparks said he was particularly pleased with his top three men’s runners this week.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the men’s program,” Sparks said. “Even though we were 10th … there’s still a lot of positives to take away. Those front three were strong … I don’t know who had a stronger top three than ours. Our top three were as good as anybody’s, we just need that four and five to perform and we feel like we’re as competitive as anybody in our region.”

With the Joe Piane Invitational under their belts, the Irish look forward to the adidas Wisconsin Invitational in two weeks, but Sparks said he is already looking ahead to the ACC championship.

“We’re starting to look towards conference now,” Sparks said. “We’re still a month away from the conference meet, but we got a taste of what NC State is all about today. And we’re going to get to see them along with several other conference foes in two weeks at Wisconsin, so maybe we can turn the table on them a little bit at that time.”

Notre Dame next takes the course at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, on Oct. 16.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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