Track and Field
Squads off to strong start after Bill Clinger Invitational
Nate Moller | Tuesday, January 21, 2020
The men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Bill Clinger Invitational at Grand Valley State University on Friday. There were strong turnouts across the board, promising for the Irish as the indoor track season progressively gets more competitive.
The women’s distance squad performed well for the Irish. The distance team took home first in three events with junior Erin Sullivan winning the 800-meter, junior AnnaSophia Keller winning the mile and senior Erin Archibeck setting a personal best in winning the 3000-meter.
Head coach Matt Sparks said he was very happy that some younger athletes were able to step up for the distance squad.
“The theme that we have had for this group has been that we are looking for underclassmen leaders, meaning juniors and younger, to step up. We have had great leaders with graduate students Kelly Hart and Anna Rohrer,” Sparks said. “We need those kids that are younger on the team to assert themselves a little bit. All three of them ran confidently and competitively and brought some of the underclassmen along with them in their success. They really stepped up and did what was asked of them this weekend.”
The strong performances of the distance group will likely cause Sparks to alter the training slightly, he said.
“It’s got us questioning the training in a positive way because they are so prepared this early in the season,” Sparks said. “We had a plan laid out for what we were going to do for workouts over the next six weeks, and they are ahead of the curve. We are re-evaluating things, and they are forcing us to reach outside of our coaching box a little bit which is a good thing.”
Also competing well were the women hurdlers. Senior Summer Thorpe took first with a time of 8.51seconds in the 60-meter event, and senior Naya Sharp was right behind in second place with a time of 8.5 seconds.
Sparks recognizes the importance of these two hurdlers being able to train and compete together.
“Sharp has been a real steady workhorse since she got here four years ago. She and Summer have trained really well over the last couple of years,” Sparks said. “Obviously when someone thinks of our women hurdles group, Summer is the first name that is mentioned, but Summer would also tell you that she couldn’t be where she is today without Naya pushing her and challenging her everyday at practice. And the race on Friday was just another example of that.”
The Irish did well off the track as well, with sophomore Colton Crum taking first in the pole vault with a height of 5.21 meters, a career best for Crum.
Crum redshirted the outdoor track season last year to perfect his form, and Sparks said he is pleased it is already paying off for him.
“You can see it start to pay off now with the PR this weekend. He’s even more confident he can go higher in the coming weeks,” Sparks said. “It’s a real confidence booster for him that all the work he has put in over the last five months is really paying off.”
Sparks said he was also impressed with the performance of freshman Sarah Flight in the high jump. Flight tied for first in the event with a mark of 1.65 meters.
“In her first big meet, she was able to come out on top and compete at her best. Whenever you have a freshman come in and compete in their first meet right at their PR, you are excited about where they are,” Sparks said.
The Irish will play host this week at the upcoming Notre Dame Invitational on Saturday. A smaller meet than the Irish’s last competition, the Invitational will feature Illinois State, Louisville, Loyola and Marquette as competitors. The meet will start at 10 a.m. in Loftus Sports Center.