Track and Field
Irish boast strong performances at Power Five Invitational
Nate Moller | Tuesday, February 4, 2020
The track and field team competed at the Power Five Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the University of Michigan. There was plenty of competition for the Irish at the meet, and the team put on a number of stellar performances.
One of the most notable performances came from junior Rachel Tanczos, who beat her own personal best to set the school record in the weight throw with a toss of 22.51 meters.
Tanczos sat out at last week’s Notre Dame Invitational, and head coach Matt Sparks credits throws coach Adam Beltran and the track staff for making the right decision.
“That is a real tribute to our event coach Adam Beltran, our strength training program and our athletic training department recognizing that a week off is going to make [Tanczos] better,” Sparks said.
With throwers, there is a fine line between knowing when to compete and when to take time off.
“That group led by coach Beltran really understands when [Tanczos] is ready to compete and when it is best for her to wait until she is healthy and take some time off,” Sparks said.
Sparks knows that this training philosophy will have Tanczos ready to compete when it matters most.
“Coach Beltran does a great job of having Rachel ready when it matters most, and now she has firmly established herself as one of the best girls in the country,” he said.
The throwers did well overall with senior Abbey Kapitan taking fourth in the weight throw and Tanczos and Kapitan taking fourth and sixth respectively in the shot put. On the men’s side, senior Shae Watkins and freshman Michael Shoaf placed fifth and sixth in the weight throw.
These strong performances came without top men’s thrower senior Logan Kusky who needed a week off. Sparks said he did not compete due to some underlying aches and pains.
The dynamic duo of women hurdlers — senior Summer Thorpe and Naya Sharp — also had strong performances. Thorpe and Sharp finished in third and fourth respectively behind two professional athletes.
Sparks was very impressed with their strong performances.
“For both of them, they ran well from an individual perspective, but they ran well competing against world class athletes,” he said.
Sparks is confident this stiff competition will benefit Thorpe and Sharpe as the season progresses.
“Getting them comfortable against elite company is only going to better their chances when they run against traditional college kids at the conference meet,” Sparks said. “I know they came out of there with a lot of confidence about what they can do in the coming months.”
Sophomore pole vaulter Colton Crum also had a good performance, according to Sparks, with his second place finish. Sparks was happy to see a solid performance from Crum who struggled a bit at last week’s Notre Dame Invitational.
“He opened up really strong, struggled a bit at home and now he is starting to recover from last weekend’s competition,” Sparks said. “Colton has struggled a little bit at our home meets, and that’s something he is going to have to overcome because we have conference here in three weeks.”
Sparks likened Crum’s performance to basketball players who prefer certain arenas.
“It’s just like basketball where some players like to shoot at Purcell Pavillion and some shoot better in a different arena,” Sparks said. “He has to get comfortable performing in our home facility.”
Graduate student Edward Cheatham also had a notable performance in the 400 meter dash where he placed third with a time of 49.17 seconds.
Sparks praised Cheatham as a leader and someone who will greatly benefit the team’s distance medley relay in a few weeks.
“He’s a great natural leader for that group, and he’s a great addition to the men’s distance medley relay when they come together in a couple of weeks,” Sparks said. “He’s been our main stay on that relay, and it has been really encouraging for him as his fitness continues to improve at the right time of the year.”
Sparks hopes the rest of the sprints group will follow Cheatham’s lead.
“We need to get the rest of that sprint group to get on board with what [Cheatham] is doing,” Sparks said.
The Irish will be back in action Friday and Saturday for the Meyo Invitational, which will be hosted at Loftus Sports Center, featuring roughly nine teams from the Big Ten and ACC.