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Track and Field

Men’s distance medley relay sets program record at Alex Wilson Invitational

| Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Among a number of notable Irish accomplishments at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Loftus Sports Center this past Saturday, the men’s distance medley relay made a statement by winning the race and recording the second-fastest time in NCAA Indoor Track history.

With a time of 9:25.80, the Irish distinguished themselves in the relay despite the stiff competition for which it is known. The accomplishment was good for both the program and Loftus Sports Center records.

The Irish finished just 0.04 seconds in front of second-place Wisconsin.

Anna Mason | The Observer

Irish distance runners Brendan Fraser, Zach Kreft and Matthew Carmody compete in the 3,000m race at the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 2, 2019, at Loftus Sports Center.

Irish head coach Matt Sparks gave much credit to junior Yared Nuguse, who ran the 1600m anchor leg and secured the victory for the Irish.

“He’s got that innate ability to know exactly how much he needs to push and how much of a lead is too much to allow someone to have,” Sparks said.

Nuguse won the 1500m during 2019’s NCAA Outdoor Championships in a similar fashion to Saturday’s DMR race. Sparks said he feels lucky to have someone like Nuguse on his team.

“He just knows exactly how much he needs to push on the gas to win, and that’s a skill that I wish we could coach,” Sparks said. “It’s a skill that some kids are just born with, and he’s got it. We are thankful that he has that internal fortitude to know what he needs to do to win.”

Sparks said the unsung heroes of the DMR were graduate student Edward Cheatham and junior Sam Voelz, who ran the 400m and 800m legs, respectively.

“We were in second-to-last place at the first exchange, and those guys put us back in the position where we could run for the win,” Sparks said. “Both of them ran personal bests. Credit to those guys for making those things a lot easier on Yared than it could have been.”

The women’s DMR also recorded a time that put them just outside of the national list. Sparks said he hopes the women will be able to record a national qualifying time at the ACC Championships.

The other highlight of the day was the success of the throwers. In the women’s weight throw, junior Rachel Tanczos and senior Abbey Kapitan took the top places, and senior Logan Kusky took second for the men. Tanczos’ throw of 23.31m was good for a new program record and the top performance in the country so far this season.

Although Sparks was impressed with Tanczos’ performance, he discussed how excited he was that Kapitan was able to set a personal record on Saturday.

“Abbey is the heart and soul of the throwers group, and we have been waiting all year for her to have a throw like that,” Sparks said. “To see Abbey do that energized the throws group and the entire team. To see someone’s hard work pay off like that made the day that much more special.”

Sparks also mentioned his amazement that Kapitan and Tanczos are both walk-ons that have emerged as two of the top throwers at the national level. 

Another notable performance came from sophomore Danny Kilrea, who took first place in the 5000m race. Sparks added the race to the schedule late with the hope that Kilrea would qualify for the fast heat of the conference meet, which he accomplished with his time of 14:14.10.

Although Kilrea struggled a bit at Iowa State last week, Sparks was happy to see him bounce back on Saturday.

“He’s been an All-American for us before, and he’s training well,” Sparks said. “We just need to get him a positive race under his belt. I think he felt very comfortable on Saturday, which I think should lead to bigger and better things at the conference meet.”

The Irish will go easy in training this week in preparation for the ACC Championships, which will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Loftus Sports Center.

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