Track and Field
ND roster full of talent, seeks consistency
Marek Mazurek | Tuesday, February 9, 2016
There is no debating that Notre Dame boasts a solid track program.
The Irish women’s team has the reigning 10,000-meter NCAA champion and all-ACC indoor championships Most Valuable Track Performer in senior distance runner Molly Seidel and an eight-time All-American in senior sprinter Margaret Bamgbose.
Having a deep rotation of 400-meter and distance runners, including senior Kaila Barber, sophomores Payton Miller, Jessica Harris and Parker English and freshman distance runner Anna Rohrer, doesn’t hurt either.
And even though the men’s team has lagged behind the women’s in recent years, standout performances from junior thrower Anthony Shivers and junior pole vaulter Nate Richartz figure to give the Irish relevance in the ACC this season.
However, as the Irish split up this weekend to compete in Ames, Iowa, and Geneva, Ohio, they still have to prove they can consistently perform against other top programs.
The team opened the season slowly, placing second out of two teams at the Wisconsin Open on Jan. 16 and then finishing fourth at home in the Notre Dame Invitational on Jan 23.
After the meet, head coach Alan Turner said he expected his squad to perform with more effort. The team responded at the Indiana Relays on Jan. 29 and 30 and again at the Meyo Invitational last weekend.
At the Meyo Invitational, Seidel and Bamgbose won the 3,000-meter run and the 400-meter dash, respectively, and Barber posted an impressive time of 8.14 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles. Richartz won the pole vault for the third time this season after notching the top spot at the Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 12 and again at the Notre Dame Invitational. Senior Danielle Aragon also returned from injury with a solid showing in the Meyo Mile.
Now, the team stands at a critical point in the indoor season. With the ACC championships in three weeks, the Irish need to show they can match up against tough competition, as they did in the prior meet, to give themselves some momentum going into the postseason
At Iowa this weekend, the men’s team will face seven programs ranked in the top 25. How the Irish stack up may be a good indicator of what to expect for Notre Dame in the conference championships.
The Irish certainly are not be expected to win against powerhouses like No. 1 Florida and No. 10 Georgia, but a competitive showing at the Iowa State Classic is essential for Notre Dame’s star athletes, as they will likely be rested next weekend right before the ACC championship.
Bamgbose and Seidel already have their slots in the NCAA championships locked up, but it would be great for the team to see middle distance runners like Miller, English and Harris get near-personal bests.
For the men, junior sprinters Alex Groesch and Harvey Smith should also continue to improve as well as they aim to place well in the ACC championship.
At the end of the day, Notre Dame’s individual athletes will succeed. However, whether that amounts to Seidel and Bamgbose winning honors or the team as a whole placing highly in the ACC remains to be seen. This is an important weekend for the Irish, and consistency is key.
The Irish compete against 35 other programs at the Iowa State Classic on Feb. 12 and 13 at Lied Recreation Athletic Center in Ames, Iowa.