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Track and Field

Nuguse, Kusky and Tanczos highlight ACC Championships

| Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Putting forth its best athletes, Notre Dame competed in the ACC Championships this past weekend in Blacksburg, Va. The Irish men’s team finished in 6th place with 41 points after all events were scored — their best finish since joining the ACC five years ago. The Irish women’s team finished in 8th place with a score of 33 points.

Anna Mason | The Observer

Irish sophomore Yared Nuguse leads the pack in the Meyo Mile during Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational on Feb. 2 at Loftus Sports Center.

Virginia Tech’s Rector Fieldhouse was the venue for the 15-school event throughout the weekend, which saw multiple records broken by Irish athletes.

The first day of competitions saw the men’s distance medley relay (DMR) squad take first place. Senior Edward Cheatham and sophomores Yared Nuguse, Samuel Voelz and Vincent Zona helped the Irish take the ACC crown with a time of 9:38.85, seven seconds better than second place — a performance that Irish head coach Matt Sparks said he was not surprised by.

“[In] the DMR we felt like [the team was] in a good place in the men’s side, and they did not disappoint,” he said.

On the women’s side of the DMR, the team of junior Mikayla Schneider, junior Grace Cronin, senior Kelly Hart and senior Rachel DaDamio finished in third place with a time of 11:13.73, with a razor-thin 0.68 seconds separating them from runner-up Florida State.

In addition to helping Notre Dame get first place in the DMR, Nuguse came out on top in the mile. Nuguse ran for a time of 3:57.93, which was six seconds better than the second-place finish and a record at Rector Fieldhouse. Nuguse’s time was also the eighth-best time by an NCAA Division 1 runner this indoor season. Sparks had high praise for the surging sophomore.

“[Nuguse] ran 3:57 by himself. I’m pretty sure there’s not another guy in the country that’s broken 4 [minutes] from start to finish,” Sparks said. “Typically, you’ll have someone out there following you but from the time the gun went off until he crossed the finish line there wasn’t a guy within a couple of seconds from him after the first lap.”

Another highlight for the Irish was the performance in the men’s and women’s weight throwing competition. Junior Logan Kusky took home first place in the men’s weight throwing finals with a distance of 21.37 meters — a Notre Dame school record. Sparks said he was excited about Kusky’s performance, and noted that the junior could compete in the national meet this season.

“[Kusky] was the number one seed going in and sometimes that puts a target on your back, but he lived up to the billing,” he said. “He’s put himself in contention for a national qualifying spot. He’s just on the outside looking in right now, but, if we get a few scratches, he might qualify for the [national] meet.”

The women’s weight throwing was also dominated by the Irish, who took the top two spots in the competition. Sophomore Rachel Tanczos had the best throw with a distance of 21.08 meters while junior Abbey Kapitan placed second with a distance of 20.76 meters. Tanczos’ distance is a school record as well. Despite being opponents in the competition, both women said were happy for each other. Sparks said Kapitan and Tanczos exhibit a friendly competition when they go against each other.

“They are really close friends but they’re both really competitive people,” Sparks said. “The happiest person when that competition was over was Abbey, as excited she was for Rachel to win it. That’s just a healthy teammate relationship. They were feeding off each other’s energy to go further and further but, when it was all said and done, they were both equally happy for each other. That’s what makes it so much fun, those two celebrate together.”

Two more top-five finishes for the Irish included Hart taking fifth place in the women’s 800-meter final with a time of 2:07.83 and freshman Colton Crum placing fourth in the men’s pole vault with a finish of 5.05 meters.

If Notre Dame qualifies any athletes for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the competitions will be held March 8-9 in Birmingham, Ala.

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