Track and Field
Irish sweep distance events at Notre Dame Invitational, shift focus to Indiana Relays
Jimmy Ward | Tuesday, January 22, 2019
The Irish hosted the Notre Dame Invitational this Saturday inside Loftus Sports Center. The men’s team faced their first ACC matchup of the season against the Louisville Cardinals, with both squads earning 126 points to tie for first place. The women’s team, however, was not able to hold off Louisville, as the Cardinals put up 145.5 points to Notre Dame’s 121.
Following a strong showing at Purdue’s Gene Edmonds Open last weekend, Irish head coach Matt Sparks noted how he was impressed with the team coming together as a whole.
“Really, this is first meet we’ve had our entire track team compete. We had small groups competing last week at Purdue but this is the first time we’ve really come together as a team to compete for a small but competitive meet,” Sparks said. “It was good to see the team supporting each other in a scored meet and in our sport of track and field where it often times doesn’t evolve to that until championship season, it’s good for us to get a good competitive meet in.”
Joining Notre Dame and Louisville at the five team meet were Illinois State, Central Michigan and Loyola (Ill.), and the Irish saw strong performances put up all across the board. Both the men and women’s distance squads led the way by sweeping three events — the men’s mile as well as both the men and women’s 3,000 meters. In addition to sweeping the 3,000 meters, the women also secured six of the seven best times. Freshmen Jackie Gaughan led the way with a time of 9:32, followed by fellow freshmen Maddy Denner, who made her home debut. Denner only just joined her twin sister Elena at Notre Dame after she decided not to run for Michigan after her first semester there, and finished with a time of 9:35.48. The men’s team was also able to sweep the 3000m and secure six of the top seven spots. Sophomore Kevin Salvano led the men by finishing in 8:16.43, followed closely by freshmen teammates Amani Morrell (8:16.77) and Zach Kreft (8:17.05), Sophomore Brendan Fraser finished fourth with a time of 8:17.93.
Sparks said he was impressed with Salvano’s toughness and complimented the sophomore for his effort.
“You know, for a kid who had hamstring surgery two years ago at this time and questioned if he could ever run again, he stepped up to get the win in the [3,000 meters] today and it really finished the meet on a good note for us. It sort of all built up to that moment where Kevin could come out and perform the way he did. That really caught my eye today,” Sparks said.
The sprints team also registered stellar performances. Junior Jernaya Sharp won the ladies 60 meter hurdle finals with a time of 8.47. Fellow junior Grace Cronin, who worked her way through the preliminary races to compete in the 60 meter hurdle finals, finished third with a time of 8.66. Junior Madysen Hunter finished the women’s 200m dash with a time of 25.52. The women’s 4×400 meter relay comprising of Cronin, Hunter, Summer Thorpe and Sharp finished second with a time of 3:48.68.
The Irish travel to Bloomington this weekend to compete in the Indiana Relays. The two-day event will start on Friday and conclude the following day.