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ND Cross Country

Irish squads finish sixth, seventh at ACC championships

| Monday, October 30, 2017

Notre Dame finished in the top seven, for both the women’s and men’s team, in the 2017 ACC cross country championships on Friday. The women’s team finished in sixth and the men’s team finished in seventh.

The women’s team was led by junior Annie Heffernan, who finished 13th overall with a 20:28.3 showing. Heffernan was followed by fellow veteran junior Rachel DaDamio, who finished 18th overall with a time of 20:38.8, her new personal record. DaDamio and Heffernan earned All-ACC accolades with their top 21 finishes. Freshman Anna Sophia Keller finished third for the Irish and 34th overall with a time of 21:11.3.

Anna Mason | The Observer
Irish junior Rachel DaDamio competes in the National Catholic Invitational on Sept. 15 at Notre Dame’s Burke Golf Course.

Associate head coach Matt Sparks commented on the performance of the women’s team, noting that the unit was doing very well until the last third of the race.

“We played a great first three quarters of cross country on the women’s side. We really struggled the last third of the race, we were in second place with about a mile to go and then the wheels came off. One thing we need to work on, on the women’s side, over the next two weeks, is running a complete race,” Sparks said. “We came out and ran really strong for two and a half miles but, the race is three and a half miles and we just didn’t finish things. The season is about putting all the pieces of the puzzles together and putting them together at the appropriate time. We can see where they are now, now we just need to push them all together when it matters most, which is right now.”

Nevertheless, Sparks had lots of praise for the veterans Heffernan and DaDamio.

“The two individual women that ran especially well were [Rachel DaDamio] and [Annie Heffernan], both running [to] their second All-ACC cross country accolade, so we’re especially proud of those two,” Sparks said.

The men’s team was led by freshman Yared Nuguse, who finished 24th overall with a personal-best time of 24:03.7 in his first ACC competition of his collegiate career. Nuguse was followed by Irish co-captain and senior Kevin Pulliam, who finished 37th overall with a time of 24:19.0. Graduate student Bradley Wattleworth finished 41st overall with a time of 24:22.5 for the third best Irish time.

Coach Sparks talked about what the team will be working on over the next two weeks as it prepares for Regionals.

“I think there is some mental toughness that we just need to talk about — finishing the job. There’s some conditioning things as well that, as we let them rest up, for this last two to three weeks of the season, hopefully, their legs feel a little bit stronger and can finish things out in the appropriate fashion,” Sparks said. “So, work on the mental game a little bit but, also work on the physical game which at this point of year is not necessarily working harder it’s letting your body rest and recover.”

Coach Sparks recapped the meet by saying the men’s team showcased their improvement, and that despite the performance by the women’s team, he still has hope that they have their best race ahead of them.

“The men were tenth last year and moved up to finish seventh, so they’re trending in the right direction,” Sparks said. “The women struggled a little bit the last mile of the race, whereas, we were second last year, we were second with one mile to go in the race this year and the wheels came off the last mile. We feel like we got everything there to put it back together in two weeks, and now we just need to execute a little bit better.”

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