ND Cross Country
Irish women take first, men take second at National Catholic
Joe Everett | Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Last Friday on Burke Golf Course, Notre Dame braved the hot and humid conditions to put forth strong performances at the 37th annual National Catholic, as the women and men finished first and second respectively in a field of more than 40 teams.
The women’s team matched expectations by winning the meet comfortably, as their first place total of 31 points far outstripped Marquette, who came in second with 73, and Dayton who finished third, at 96. Friday’s first place finish marked the 22nd time the Irish women have won the National Catholic, as well as the 18th straight team championship. Sophomore Annie Heffernan also gave the Irish their 15th straight individual championship, as she crossed the finish line in first with a time of 17:22.1. Heffernan was closely followed by graduate student Danielle Aragon who is returning from an injury suffered last outdoor track season. Irish associate head coach Matthew Sparks talked about their performances, saying both runners ran smart races.
“Annie [Heffernan] and Dani [Aragon] both were injured at the end of outdoor track, and you’re never sure what to expect when their last significant race was March,” Sparks said. “They did a good job taking care of themselves over the summer, getting healthy, gaining fitness and getting ready for today.”
What makes the victory especially impressive is that the Irish did so without their full team, as star sophomore Anna Rohrer did not compete in order to rest. Sparks noted that the team is currently looking to get fully healthy for the later and more important portion of the season.
“We still have a few girls that were major players for us during the outdoor track season, and they’re getting healthy, so we’ll get them back out there in a couple weeks,” Sparks said. “Anna Rohrer’s healthy and ready to go in a couple weeks as well, so I feel like we’re in a good place right now on the women’s side.”
The men’s team finished second place with 67 points, bested by Saint Louis at 52 points, but managing to edge out Dayton. Highlighting the performance for the men’s squad was sophomore Anthony Williams, who finished in third place overall with a time of 25:11.8, and a breakout performance by freshman Tyler Keslin as the Munster, Indiana native took 19th place overall. Sparks said he liked what he saw from Williams, but said the men’s team needs to gain confidence.
“It was great to see our sophomore, Tony Williams, lead the way for us,” Sparks said. “He had a great summer training, and stayed healthy. Right now our men’s team is getting healthy, we just need to get more confident in who we are. We got lost in the shuffle a little bit early in the race and just couldn’t recover from putting ourselves in a little bit of a hole early on. We never were up front and as a result we didn’t finish up front.”
Although the National Catholic is a significant meet, it does not attract the level of talent that the Irish will face later on in the year, and thus should serve as a good springboard for the team moving forward. Next up for Notre Dame is the Joe Piane Invitational, which will take place Sept. 30 at home on Burke Golf Course.