Track and Field
Nuguse sets program record in 3000m at Meyo Invitational
Nate Moller | Tuesday, February 11, 2020
The Notre Dame track and field team had a very successful weekend at the Meyo Invitational which was hosted the Loftus Sports Center at Notre Dame. There were top performances across the board, but junior Yared Nuguse’s time of 7:46.71 in the 3000m set the Notre Dame program record and the Loftus Sports Center record.
Head Coach Matt Sparks discussed Nuguse’s performance.
“[Men’s distance] coach [Sean] Carlson set that up a month ago,” Sparks said. “We brought in some people to help pace the race for him with the anticipation that he would be fit enough and ready to do that on that day. “
Sparks was impressed with Nuguse’s ability to compete at a high level on his home track.
“Sometimes it’s tough to compete your best at home because you get so used to running day in and day out on the same track, and it is hard to get fired up sometimes,” Sparks said. “Obviously that didn’t happen with Yared. He was ready to go.”
Sparks was also impressed that Nuguse was able to set the record in a race which he won by quite a large margin — no one was near Nuguse when he crossed the finish line.
“He won the race by 15 seconds, so he was just racing the clock,” Sparks said. “Yared has always been a great runner with competitors around him, but now he is learning to run fast when no one is around, which is a different skill set.”
Sparks said that Nuguse will be running a leg of the distance medley relay in the NCAA championships, and that he will plan on competing in the 3000m as well.
Also in the 3000m race were junior Andrew Alexander and sophomore Dylan Jacobs, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Sparks said he had hoped that the two of them could have ran with Nuguse for longer. By the time they fell off of Nuguse, they lost a lot of momentum.
“It was hard for them to push once they found themselves off of the leader,” Sparks said. “…They hoped to run with him until the last lap or so. When they couldn’t do that, it was hard to keep the momentum going.”
Sparks hopes that Alexander and Jacobs can learn from Saturday’s race.
“It was a little disappointing but better to learn those experiences now than [at] championship time,” Sparks said.
In the women’s 3000m, sophomore Maddy Denner had a stellar race, finishing third overall.
Sparks was pleased with Denner’s performance, but he is aware that there is still room for improvement going forward.
“She was leading with 300 meters to go and got out-kicked a little bit, so she is learning that is still a piece of the race that she needs to work on,” Sparks said. “She keeps getting better season after season, which is all you can ask for.”
Another bright spot of the weekend was the performance of junior Sam Voelz who placed second in the 800m dash.
Sparks discussed how Voelz’s versatility as a runner will be very helpful for the distance medley relay team, which will be competing at the Alex Wilson Invitational in two weeks.
“He is such a key piece because he can run an 800, he can run a 1200, and so he is growing into a utility player on that relay team,” Sparks stated.
Sophomore pole vaulter Colton Crum also competed well, finishing fifth overall. Sparks was pleased that Crum had a solid performance in Loftus, a place where he struggled early in the season.
“He has never been a big fan of our runway but he has to get used to it,” Sparks said. “He’s learning how the bounce to the runway is. Every runway has a different feel to it. Learning how to find his speed on the runway is a skill that he is trying to perfect here at home.”
Senior hurdlers Summer Thorpe and Naya Sharp continued their string of strong performances to open the season this past weekend as well. Thorpe crossed the line in 8.27 seconds to take first and tie her personal record, and Sharp set a personal record of 8.36 seconds to take third.
Sparks is confident that both of his top hurdlers will be ready to compete at the biggest meets of the year in a few weeks.
“They are both setting themselves up for contributing roles at the championships in three weeks,” Sparks said.
The weight throw was also a strong event for the Irish with seniors Logan Kusky and Abbey Kapitan placing third and fourth, respectively.
Sparks discussed how invaluable both Kapitan and Kusky have been to the team and the development of junior Rachel Tanczos, who holds one of the best weight throw marks in the country.
“Abbey and Logan have been really steady forces for that group over the last couple of years,” Sparks said. “Rachel [Tanczos] is the one everybody notices on the national stage, but Rachel wouldn’t be where she is today if Abbey hadn’t set the tone for her walking in the door.”
Although Tanczos had three scratches in the weight throw on Friday, she was able to come back and deliver a personal best in the shot put on Saturday.
Sparks was pleased that Tanczos was able to overcome this adversity and still finish the meet in a strong fashion.
“Rather than feel sad for herself, she came back the next day and got a personal record in the shot put,” Sparks said. “It was encouraging to see someone who struggled one day to come back the next day and step up and get better.”
The Irish will be back in competition again this weekend for the Iowa State Classic in Ames, IA and the Music City Invitational in Nashville, TN.