ND Cross Country
Rohrer paces Irish, finishes first over break
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, October 27, 2016
The Irish notched two top-10 finishes over break as the women’s team finished ninth in the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, while the men took fourth place in the Bradley Classic in Peoria, Illinois.
Highlighting the women’s fourth consecutive top-10 finish was sophomore Anna Rohrer, who placed third overall with 20:03.4. Sophomore Annie Heffernan was the second Irish runner to cross the finish line, coming in at 22nd overall.
With the ACC championships this weekend, Irish assistant coach Matthew Sparks said he is pleased with where Rohrer is mentally and physically, and said the sophomore standout even has room to improve.
“[Rohrer is in the] perfect position right now,” Sparks said. “We feel like she’s right where she needs to be … there are some things we can do to improve physically. In training, there’re some things we’re working on. She’s in a good place moving forward.”
Last season, Rohrer finished second at the ACC meet behind teammate Molly Seidel. Last week, Rohrer was named the ACC performer of the week.
For the men, the fourth-place finish marks an improvement over the team’s last showing — a 25th place finish at home in the Joe Piane Invitational. The key to the top-five men’s finish was sophomore Anthony Williams. Williams placed sixth with a time of 24:29.1 for the eight-kilometer race, and Sparks said he is impressed with the way Williams prepares for each event.
“[Williams] is a walk-on athlete that showed up on campus a year ago with minimal fanfare … the guy does everything right, and you can’t ask much more than that,” Sparks said. “From the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed, he’s constantly doing things to make himself a better athlete, and that’s hopefully rubbing off on our other younger guys because we’re about as young and inexperienced of a team as you can have. It’s nice to have someone who understands what it takes to be successful.”
Looking forward, the team will travel down to North Carolina to compete in the ACC championships Friday. Sparks said he likes where both of his teams are going into the event.
“I think both teams are in an upswing,” Sparks said. “The women’s team made some positive steps at Wisconsin, moved up nationally. N.C. State is ranked top five in the country so they’re going to be a tough team to beat, especially running on their home course. We’d like to be top two on the women’s side.
“And then if the men can finish in the top half, which is the top seven or eight, then they’ve made a big step from where they were two weeks before.”
One factor Sparks feels may help the women is their experience. Last year, the women took third in the ACC meet with Rohrer, Heffernan and fellow sophomore Rachel DaDamio all placing in the top 60.
“[The experience] honestly does help the women because they’ve been there, done that,” Sparks said. “And that’s a little bit of the fear factor for the men’s team with so many freshman and inexperienced athletes. That’s a big concern with them going into the championship, is how do they respond to the bigger meets. For the women, there’s a comfort factor with the veterans in a meet like that.”
The ACC championship meet takes place Friday in Cary, North Carolina.