Irish open season with strong performance at home
Marek Mazurek | Monday, December 7, 2015
The Irish opened their season with 14 wins at the Blue and Gold Invitational on Friday at Loftus Sports Center.
Host Notre Dame’s 14 wins earned the Irish nine qualifying marks for the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships.
“Overall, yes, it was a successful meet for us,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said. “All in all, I was very positive with the outcome of the meet. And there’s some people that could have done a little bit better, but I’m okay with it at this point in the year.”
One of the biggest performances for the Irish came from sophomore Jessica Harris who won the mile event with a personal best time of 4:54.97. Harris sat out during last year’s outdoor season, and Turner said he is glad to see her back competing.
“She’s hungry,” Turner said. “She missed all of last outdoor [season] with an injury, and I had to redshirt her.
“She’s anxious; she’s ready to go. And last year, believe it or not, she was just touching the surface of what she can do. She set three school records for us. We think she’s even going to be better this year.”
The Irish also swept the mid-distance events, winning the men’s and women’s 400- and 800-meter dashes and 4×400-meter relays.
Sophomores Eric Ways and Jordan Shead won the men’s and women’s 400-meter dashes with times of 48.20 and 56.39, respectively. Sophomore Alexis Daugherty tallied a 2:12.35 mark to win the women’s 800-meters, while junior Patrick O’Connell won the men’s 800-meters with a 1:51.66. Turner said he was not surprised by the results and pointed to O’Connell as a key member of the men’s 800-meter group.
“I wasn’t surprised that we ran well in those events, especially on the 400-meter side,” Turner said. “We’ve been strong with women in the 400 in the past. My 800 group could be better and they’re definitely turning the corner, especially the men’s 800 group. They’ve shown flashes the last couple of years of promise and with Pat O’Connell running very well — 1:51 for his first meet — that’s a very good sign. We think he can cut a few seconds off of that by the time we get to the ACC championships.”
The Irish also had a strong day in the field events with junior Nate Richartz winning the men’s pole vault, sophomore Hunter Holton winning the men’s high jump, junior Anthony Shivers winning the men’s weight throw and senior Lena Madison winning the women’s weight throw. Turner keyed in on Shivers’ performance as being an important one for the team.
“We were going to get a little bit more success in the field,” Turner said. “Specifically in the field on the men’s side, Anthony Shivers in the weight throw had a huge personal best. He threw over two meters, six and a half feet more than his [personal record] before and he threw 63 feet and one a half inch, which is second best all-time in school history for us in the weight throw. So that was a very pleasant surprise right there for us. And that’s an area, in the last couple of years, I think we could have done better. But those guys seem to be turning the corner.”
Though the team does not compete again for six weeks, Turner said the key moment in the season is right now as training begins in earnest.
“This break is critical,” Turner said. “It’s not a time to rest. It’s a time to really build upon what you did this fall, because once we get back from break, we have meet every weekend and it’s more difficult to get in shape. Now we can really hammer and train and get in condition that’s going to carry us through the indoor season. This part [of the season] is very, very critical.”
The Irish return to action Jan. 16 at the Wisconsin Open.