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Track and Field

Nathan Richartz, Anna Rohrer lead Notre Dame to strong performance at Penn Relays

| Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Several Irish athletes had a strong showing at the Penn Relays this past weekend, placing highly and dropping their times in numerous events. The meet — which is held annually at Ben Franklin Field in Philadelphia — is known for bringing together top athletes from around the country and around the world.

Irish jumps coach Jim Garnham said the meet’s atmosphere is unique and electric.

“It’s an experience like no other,” Garnham said. “Forty-eight-thousand people on Saturday, screaming, yelling, watching a track meet. It’s pretty amazing. … The college kids here don’t [usually] get to partake in something like that. You do that overseas. You go to a meet with 100,000 people watching. … But here, you don’t get anything like that, so it’s awesome for the kids to be there.”

The Irish jumpers were able to put together some strong performances over the weekend. Junior Matthew Birzer placed sixth in the men’s high jump after clearing the bar at 2.08 meters. Graduate student Nathan Richartz placed first in the pole vault in his sixth consecutive meet, clearing 5.40 meters in the process — topping his mark of 5.30 meters from last year — to remain unbeaten this spring season.

Garnham said he has been very pleased to see Richartz’s progress this year and is very excited to see his performance in the postseason.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “He’s one of the top-four guys in the country, so it’s going to be tough for him to go to a meet and get beat, but … he’s jumped against some of the best guys in the country as well. … It’s been exciting; he’s going to be missed next year, I can tell you that.”

Notre Dame’s track athletes put together several strong performances at the Penn Relays as well. Junior distance runner Anna Rohrer — competing in her first track event in 10 months after recovering from a hamstring injury — won the women’s 10,000 meter run with a time of 33:25.24. Rohrer’s time ranks third in the ACC and ninth nationally in the event so far this season. At the end of the weekend, Rohrer was named the College Women’s Athlete of the Meet for Individual Events as a result of her efforts.

The Irish women also picked up three top-two finishes in relay events. Junior Kelly Hart and seniors Jordan Shead, Samantha Murray and Jessica Harris competed in the distance medley relay, finishing second with a time of 11:03.71. In the 4×100-meter relay, Shead combined with junior Kyla Lewis and sophomores Summer Thorpe and Michaela Butler to place second overall with a time of 45.44 seconds.

Thorpe also joined forces with sophomores Grace Cronin, Naya Sharp and Madysen Hunter to take first place in the shuttle hurdles relay. The Irish squad finished with a time of 54.87 seconds.

Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish graduate student Jacob Dumford competes in the Meyo Mile during the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 3 at Loftus Sports Center.

On the men’s side, the Irish finished runner-up in the distance medley relay. Graduate student Jacob Dumford, senior Kirk Hansen, junior Zachary Zajdel and freshman Yared Nuguse finished with a time of 9:35.18.

The Irish also sent some of its members to the Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Michigan, over the weekend. Freshman distance runner Annasophia Keller finished runner-up in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. Keller’s time of 10:44.11 was a personal record. Junior Rachel DaDamio placed third in the 1,500-meter run, finishing in a season best time of 4:27.81.

Irish senior pentathlete Rachel Rhodes also competed at the Gina Relays. Rhodes has been dealing with some injuries over the past few seasons, and Garnham said he has been very impressed with the determination she has shown.

“She’s a senior this year, so it would be awesome if she could score at the conference meet,” he said “She’s just been battling. I’m super proud of her, and she just gives us everything that she can. Hopefully, she can have a lifetime best … and score at her last meet. It would be amazing.”

On the men’s side, senior Irish distance runner Kevin Pulliam placed fourth overall in the 10,000-meter run, finishing with a time 31:08.41.

The Irish return to action this Friday at the Billy Hayes Invitational. The meet will take place in Bloomington, Indiana, with competition beginning at 3 p.m. The Billy Hayes Invitational will be Notre Dame’s final competition before the following weekend’s ACC outdoor championships.

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