Track and Field
Irish split, find success in Michigan, Florida
Jimmy Ward | Wednesday, April 10, 2019
The Notre Dame track and field squad competed at two separate meets last weekend, with four women at the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Michigan, and a larger squad at the North Florida Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida.
At the Spartan Invitational, three Irish competitors had top-10 performances. Freshman distance runner Meghan Scott made her collegiate outdoor debut in the 5K, completing the race in 17:31.92 — her personal best. Senior Emily Franz and sophomore Laura DeVito both competed in the 800-meter run for the Irish, placing third and eighth with times of 2:15.75 and 2:18.67, respectively.
At the North Florida Invitational, the Irish earned seven gold medals. Kicking off the large influx of hardware was sophomore Rachel Tanczos, who won the women’s hammer throw with a distance of 59.02 meters. Junior Logan Kusky followed with a first in the men’s division of the same event, winning with a personal best of 63.92 meters — the second-best hammer throw in program history.
Irish head coach Matt Sparks spoke about his team handling the transition from the indoor track to the outdoor.
“We were stuck at Loftus there for a while, but it’s nice to get outside, especially for the events that we don’t compete indoors,” Sparks said. “So the throwers throw different increments outside — the discus, hammer throw and the javelin — they are able to practice their events more effectively now being outside. The hurdle events are longer outdoors with the bigger track to do that, so those events have really enjoyed the transition.”
The Irish were equally dominant in the javelin competitions: Freshman Austin Parsons took first in the men’s event with an attempt of 59.16 meters, and sophomore Gabe Diederich won the event on the women’s side, throwing for 44.69 meters.
Junior Abbey Kapitan was victorious in the women’s shot put with a throw of 14.84 meters, and sophomore Shae Watkins rounded out the strong throwing performance for the Irish with a first-place finish in the discus at 50.63 meters.
The final gold medal the Irish earned on the day was on the track, with freshman Matthew Vietzen making his outdoor debut in the 1,500 meters, crossing the finish line in 4:01.76. Sparks said the transition from indoor to outdoor is also important for members of the distance squad like Vietzen, noting the significance of speed work on the track for the group.
“The great thing about what the distance runners have done recently to start the year is they have not done a lot of speed work and they still hit their marks in qualifying,” Sparks said. “So now we are looking forward to transitioning into doing a little bit more speed work in hopes of another jump in performance as they touch the track a little bit more. For the most part with the transition to the outdoor season, we were just doing a lot of runs on the road and tempos runs; now we’re transitioning into more track work, so we hope to get a boost there.”
The Irish will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, for the Louisville Invitational at Cardinal Park this weekend, where they expect a competitive field of athletes. The meet will begin Saturday and continue Sunday.
Coach Sparks said he has high expectations for his team heading into Louisville, particularly for the women’s squad.
“The women — we expect to be close to full participation. We’re bringing pretty much everybody that’s healthy and coming ready to go and trying to put a good foot forward leading into the second half of the season, because a lot of those women still need to hit regional qualifying marks so they are still trying to better their times going into this weekend,” Sparks said. “We have seven or eight men who already have regional qualifying marks, so we are going to hold them out of this weekend. So the men’s team will be a little bit depleted as they train and get ready for later in the season, but the women should be [challenged running] with some of the best track teams in the Midwest this weekend.”