Track and Field
Irish miss gold in DMR, but have success in trio of weekend meets
Joe Everett | Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The Notre Dame track and field team sent athletes to compete in three different meets Thursday through Saturday, as the Irish participated at the Gina Relays, the Penn Relays and the Jesse Owens Invitational to wrap up its last major competitions before the ACC and NCAA Championships.
At the famous Penn Relays, the national title-winning men’s distance medley relay (DMR) team aimed to earn gold once again. However, sophomore Yared Nuguse, who has generated last-leg heroics multiple times for the Irish, met his match on the straightaway in Philadelphia. The Notre Dame squad finished in third with a time of 9:47.94 — less than one second away from first place.
“I thought they were a little frustrated, obviously, coming off the national championship — wanted to put themselves in a position to win again,” Irish head coach Matt Sparks said. “Men were in the middle of a pretty good rainstorm at the time, but it was a good learning experience for Yared Nuguse. He’s kind of carried that relay the last couple years, and he’s realizing he can’t [fully rely] on his kick the last 100 meters of the race, which is how he’s won several times. Every now and then you’re going to meet up with a guy who’s got a kick just as strong as yours, so you’ve got to have a variety of race strategies.”
The Irish did strike gold in one event at the Penn Relays, as freshman Jackie Gaughan registered a time of 33:13.39 in the outdoor 10 kilometer to take first place. Meanwhile, the women’s DMR finished second at the Penn Relays with a time of 11:02.67. Again, the Irish couldn’t quite track down their opponent at the end, but Sparks was nevertheless impressed with the performance the team got during the final leg.
“[Graduate student] Jessica Harris was the anchor leg, and she split a 4:28 for the 1600-meter leg — the problem was she got the baton 11 seconds behind,” Sparks said. “She closed the gap but couldn’t quite catch the University of Pennsylvania. She’s been competitive for us on the national level for the last couple years, but she’s really learning how to close over the last 200 meters. She’s always run fast, but she hasn’t always finished races well … so the final piece to the puzzle that we’ve been looking for the last couple years is starting to come together.”
At the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus, Ohio, sophomore Rachel Tanczos stole the show by setting another school record, this time in the discus throw. Already holding the school record in hammer throw, Tanczos cemented her place in the record books once again with a throw of 52.71 meters Saturday afternoon, placing her in third overall but first in program history, breaking the previous record of 52.55 meters set by Jaclyn Espinoza in 2009.
“Rachel Tanczos seems to break the school record every week — can’t complain about that,” Sparks said. “She’s in a variety of events, which makes her so unique. … She’s doing very well in three events, which is a coach’s dream. The entire throwers team, week after week, keeps setting personal bests and school records — we’re really excited with the direction that group is headed going into the championships.”
Sparks also praised the performance of sophomore Summer Thorpe, who finished first in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.44.
“She’s got one of the faster times in the conference in the 100 hurdles and has been very consistent with that high-end time,” Sparks said. “She made a big jump a couple weeks ago at Louisville, and she’s maintained that level of performance [since then]. She’s putting herself in position to not only compete at the conference level, but also nationally.”
With the ACC Championships two weekends away and during a busy time academically for the student-athletes, Sparks noted that the Irish will only send a select number of individuals to the Billy Hayes Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana, this weekend.
“Just looking at a couple kids trying to hit ACC-qualifying marks,” Sparks said. “With finals coming up next week, we’re going to give most of the kids the weekend off to prepare for finals and to rest up for the conference meet.”
However, Sparks couldn’t resist making a little announcement concerning the upcoming ACCs.
“We’re probably going to run Anna Rohrer in the conference meet in the 10K,” Sparks announced. “We expect a boost there, and we’ll see what she can do.”