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Track and Field

Notre Dame aims to build on momentum with races in California, Virginia

| Wednesday, April 17, 2019

On Wednesday, the Irish will split and continue the outdoor spring season, traveling west to the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, California.

Notre Dame will also compete in the Virginia Challenge this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they will face ample opportunity to race against solid competition.

“Big emphasis [in Charlottesville] is let’s get to the conference facility where we’ll be in three weeks and get a feel of what that facility is like,” head coach Matt Sparks said. “But also we’re going to compete against some of the best teams in the country. It’s kind of the premiere track meet on the east coast this weekend. And so we’ll get to see several teams but also a lot of the Big Ten teams are going there as well.”

The Irish are fully immersed in the busy schedule of the outdoor season. With plenty of competition, Notre Dame has had the opportunity to show its strengths, and Sparks was particularly complementary of his distance runners.

“Probably the deepest 10,000 meters group in the country with four or five guys hitting marks where they probably make it into the first round of the [NCAA] championship — running times that we haven’t seen here for five to 10 years,” Sparks said. “So it’s exciting not just only for them to hit qualifying marks, but to put themselves out there on the on the high end of those qualifying marks.”

The distance runners on the women’s side have been impressive as well, with one notable athlete being senior Jessica Harris. At Notre Dame’s meet in Louisville, Harris broke a 20-year-old record in the women’s three-kilometer race with a 9:09.71 time, placing second overall. Set in 1999, JoAnna Deeter held the previous record at 9:18.31, just about 10 seconds above the mark Harris hit April 13. Harris currently ranks second nationally in the event and 10th nationally in the women’s 800 meter race.

“She’s a grown woman, a fifth-year graduate student and she fully understands everything she needs to do to be successful,” Sparks said. “And so the pieces of the puzzle for her training-wise come together very easily.”

Several other Irish women found success in Kentucky as well. Junior Summer Thorpe finished atop the leaderboard in the women’s 100 meter hurdles at 13.14 second in the finals, and the women’s 4×100 meter relay team of juniors Summer Thorpe, Madysen Hunter, Naya Sharp and senior Kyla Lewis placed second with a time of 45.88 seconds.

In the field sophomore Rachel Tanczos shattered school record with a 61.96 meter try in the women’s hammer throw competition to win the event in Kentucky. She followed it up with a win in the women’s discus with a throw of 51.08m.

Notre Dame’s other throwing athletes also competed well. Freshman Austin Parsons and sophomore Gabe Diederich recorded first-place finishes in the men’s and women’s javelin, respectively, with Parsons throwing for 60.44m and Diederich 43.24m. In the men’s discus, senior Daniel Hardiman and junior Shae Watkins finished first and second respectively, with just 1.08m separating their throws.

“They’ve got a great camaraderie amongst that group,” Sparks said. “They’re all very close knit and and really work together very well.”

The Irish left the Louisville Invitational with 15 medals, five of which were gold. Looking ahead to its meets this weekend, Notre Dame will look to continue its winning ways.

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