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Track and Field

Irish find success at meets across coasts, prepare for Penn Relays

| Thursday, April 25, 2019

Notre Dame showed up and performed last week at the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville, Virginia, while three men represented the Irish on the other coast at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, California.

In Virginia, graduate student Jessica Harris recorded the nation’s fastest time this year in the women’s 1,500 meters, crossing the line in 4:13.04. On the men’s side, sophomore Andrew Del Vecchio took first for the Irish in the 1,500 meters, posting a time of 3:56.97. In the field, sophomore Rachel Tanczos shattered her own hammer throw school record set the previous week with a throw of 64.28 meters.

At the Bryan Clay Invitational, the Irish were represented by freshman Dylan Jacobs and sophomores Yared Nuguse and Andrew Alexander. Nuguse and Jacobs both competed in the 1,500-meter race, with Nuguse placing third with a time of 3:38.32.

Anna Mason | The Observer

Irish senior Annie Heffernan competes in the 3,000 meters during the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 2 at Loftus Sports Center.

Next, the Irish will split up for a weekend of relays, starting with the 125th running of the Penn Relays in Philadelphia — the longest-running and largest outdoor track and field meet in the country. The Irish will be represented at the relays by both the men’s and women’s distance medley relay (DMR) teams. At last year’s meet, the Irish were runners-up in both the men’s and women’s DMR. Irish head coach Matt Sparks said they hope to find redemption this year.

“We’ve got kind [of] a tale of two teams running this weekend at the Penn Relays in the DMR,” Sparks said. “The women’s team has got a lot of veteran leadership in there with Jessica Harris — who is a graduate student — and Rachel DaDamio — who is a senior on the team — and [junior] Mikayla Schneider is actually a transfer from the University of Pennsylvania — she’ll be running on the relay for us. … [The runners on the men’s team] are young, but they compete at the highest level at the NCAA Championships. So they are both very confident and comfortable with the setting that they will be in this weekend.”

Sparks also spoke of the challenges his DMR teams will face on a big stage.

“The real competition on both sides is Villanova — especially on the women’s side, Villanova is a dominant team at the relays,” Sparks said. “It’s almost like a home meet for them, going into Philadelphia, and they have won more championships than any other team at the meet.”

The Irish will also be sending a group of distance runners to the Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Michigan, while a majority of the squad will be competing at the Jesse Owens Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Those two tournaments will take place Friday and Saturday, while the Penn Relays run Thursday through Saturday.

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