Track and Field
Top distance runners to make season track debut at Meyo Invitational
Nate Moller | Thursday, February 6, 2020
The track and field programs are back in action this Friday and Saturday at the Meyo Invitational, which will be hosted at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center.
The meet will feature nine teams and will allow the Irish to face off against some Big Ten regional foes that they don’t typically see as a member of the ACC.
“In a lot of ways it’s a very regionally competitive meet,” head coach Matt Sparks said. “Conferences now are spread out all over the country, and we are entrenched in Big Ten country, but we are not in the Big Ten. It will be neat for us to compete against Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, and Minnesota.”
Sparks acknowledged that regional rivalries are often much more important than conference rivalries because of the impact on recruiting.
“Our conference is truly just a conference rivalry,” Sparks said. “We’re not competing for recruits as much [with ACC teams] as we will with Big Ten teams because geographically we are not in the same neighborhood. It will be a really good regional competition with the best schools in the Midwest on our campus at the same time on the same day.”
One of the highlights of the meet will likely be the Irish’s strong distance program. Both teams had very successful cross country seasons, with the men’s team finishing eighth and the women’s team finishing 15th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Both sides will likely be challenged by other top distance programs that will be in attendance, such as Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana being.
The men’s side will be led by junior Yared Nuguse and sophomore Dylan Jacobs. Both Nuguse and Jacobs will be making their season debut on the track this weekend in the 3,000-meter race.
Sparks has high expectations for what his top runners can accomplish this weekend.
“They will be running hopefully for a national qualifying mark,” Sparks said.
On the women’s side, Sparks mentioned two athletes to watch are graduate student Rachel DaDamio and sophomore Maddy Denner.
DaDamio did not have eligibility during the cross country season, but has looked very strong so far this year. DaDamio won the 3,000-meter event at the Notre Dame Invitational recently and will be competing in the mile this weekend, which Sparks says is typically her best event.
Denner, who will be racing the 3,000-meter race this weekend, was the ACC Cross Country Freshman of the Year. She is no stranger to the track, either. Denner enrolled early last spring and finished 19th overall last year in the 10,000 meter at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Facing stiff competition this weekend is vital for some of the top athletes on the team. Sparks mentioned he is excited for sophomore pole vaulter Colton Crum and junior thrower Rachel Tanczos to receive some stellar competition. Tanczos shattered her own record in the weight throw last weekend at Michigan, and this weekend’s meet should prove to give her a challenge. Crum, who is one of the top young collegiate pole vaulters, also figures to receive plenty of competition.
“I am really excited to have all these institutions on campus,” Sparks said. “We will have close to 1,000 athletes competing, so it’s nice to host schools.”
Although Sparks is excited to host these top competitors, he mentioned it is often tough to organize an event administratively and have his own athletes competing at the same time.
“We are trying to get championship-quality competition, but obviously we want our kids to compete at a high level along with everyone else at the venue,” he said.
The Meyo Invitational will be a two-day event hosted at Loftus Sports Center. Events on Friday will begin at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m.