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Track and Field

Track and field heads to Michigan to compete in Power Five Invitational

| Friday, January 31, 2020

Track and field will head to Ann Arbor, Michigan, this weekend to compete in the Power Five Invitational. The Irish will have the opportunity to compete against some strong teams that include Michigan, North Carolina, Louisville, Mississippi State and Michigan State.

Head coach Matt Sparks is hoping to gain more information about his team this weekend and to see how his team measures up against some of the country’s best. He spoke highly of Michigan’s track and field program.

“Michigan traditionally challenges for Big Ten titles in track and field. They are a very well rounded track team,” Sparks said. “Both of their cross country teams are top-15 in the country, but they also do well in the throws, jumps and sprint events.”

Sparks is also excited to see two conference rivals in Louisville and North Carolina. The Irish saw Louisville last weekend, but this will be their first time seeing the Tar Heels this season.

“It will also be nice to see North Carolina,” Sparks said. “They’re our conference rival with a new coaching staff, and we will see what direction they are going with their program.”

Hannah Huelskamp | The Observer

Members of the Notre Dame Track & Field team junior distance runner Andrew Alexander (left), junior middle distance runner Sam Voelz (center) and junior distance runner Vince Zona (right), warm up before the annual Blue-Gold Invitational on Dec. 6.

The distance squad is arguably the strongest asset of the team, but will take the weekend off from competition.

“Traditionally with distance runners you don’t race them back-to-back weekends very much. I think we are taking one or two distance runners, but the rest of the track team obviously will be there and competing,” Sparks said.

Despite this, Sparks expects positive results in other areas, especially the throws.

“We will stack up pretty well in the events that we are emphasizing,” Sparks said.

The throwers for the Irish have been rock solid so far this year, but the health of top thrower junior Rachel Tanczos is questionable for the weekend. Tanczos did not compete at last weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational due to a back issue.

Sparks hopes that Tanczos can compete at her best.

“I’m excited to get Rachel Tanczos back out there. I hope that she is healthy and ready to go again,” Sparks said.

Even if Tanczos is unable to compete, senior Abbey Kapitan, who won the weight throw last weekend, can be expected to lead the Irish. On the men’s side, senior Logan Kusky, who also finished first in the men’s division, is expected to lead the group.

Sparks is also excited to see sophomore pole vaulter Colton Crum compete again. Crum had a strong showing at Grand Valley State two weeks ago but struggled a bit at the Notre Dame Invitational last weekend.

“For some reason he has become more comfortable traveling and competing than competing at home, so we expect him to step up again and improve upon what he did at Grand Valley State,” Sparks said.

The meet is spread out over two days, which will ease the stress on some multi-event athletes. Sparks is excited to see how senior Naya Sharpe competes in her several events with the extra day.

“Sharpe has been our number two hurdler over the last couple of meets, but she is also a potential conference scorer in the long jump,” Sparks said. “She hasn’t been able to long jump to her full capability, though, as she is trying to hurdle at the same time she’s long jumping and running back and forth between events.”

Sparks is excited to see Sharpe’s ability in the long jump when she is jumping on fresh legs.

“Hopefully with this meet spread out over two days, we give someone like her a chance to long jump fresh without having to worry about hurdles,” Sparks said. ”I’m curious to see how she does with the ability to focus on one event at the time.”

Sparks said that the Irish will not enter any relay teams into the meet, but it is likely that there will be a women’s distance medley relay team at next weekend’s Meyo Invitational.

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