Track and Field
Crum and O’Brien win events at Gibson Invitational
Nate Moller | Thursday, April 22, 2021
Although the Irish only had two athletes competing this weekend at the Gibson Invitational at Indiana State University, junior pole vaulter Colton Crum and freshman heptathlete Jadin O’Brien made a statement by performing well and winning their respected events.
Crum cleared a height of 5.21 meters, which is good for the fifth-best outdoor mark in school history.
Head coach Matt Sparks was pleased with Crum’s performance.
“We finally got a good day for weather, and he is getting more and more comfortable using the poles that he needs to use to compete at higher heights,” Sparks said. “And he really came through this weekend to gain that experience necessary to kind of push him back to being a conference champion level guy that he was indoors for us.”
Sparks was also very excited about the performance of Jadin O’Brien in the heptathlon in her first outdoor meet of the season.
“She competed at the [indoor] national meet with a quad injury. And so we just wanted to be cautious and make sure she was healthy when we did finally put her out there. So she missed the first three or four meets of the season while she was nursing that,” Sparks said. “We wanted to start off with a bit of a low-key competitive meet going to Indiana State versus putting her in a more challenging environment.”
Sparks explained that O’Brien is now ranked fifteenth on the national list, and the top 24 marks on the season will go to the national meet.
“It’s probably a good chance that she would already make it in with that mark she currently has, but she will get another chance to compete.”
Sparks did notice that being outdoors affected O’Brien’s performance somewhat.
“She did struggle a bit in the javelin throw. Obviously, the indoor multi versus the outdoor multi have different events. And what that meant is that she knows she could easily pick up an extra 100 points to really push her over the top towards being one of the best athletes in the country,” Sparks said.
O’Brien will compete again in the Clark Wood Invitational at Louisville this weekend along with some of her other teammates, while the distance squad will go to the Drake Relays.
Sparks is planning on bringing six men and fourteen women to compete in the Drake Relays. Most athletes will be competing in open events with the lone relay event being the Distance Medley relay on Saturday. Sparks also mentioned his excitement for the women’s 1500 meter race on Friday that will feature graduate student Katie Wasserman, senior Annasophia Keller and sophomore Olivia Markezich.
Sparks is excited to see junior Matthew Carmody, who is a native of Des Moines, Iowa, compete in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the Drake Relays.
“He’s somebody that ran a really good 5K to start the year at Raleigh. And [the steeplechase] is an event that he did two years ago as a freshman, but he wasn’t near the athlete and wasn’t nearly as fit then as he is today,” Sparks said. And it’s a homecoming of sorts for him. He’s from Des Moines, so for a lot of reasons this could be a really fun competition for him.”
Sparks is also excited to see how Katie Wasserman and Olivia Markezich stack up in the 1500 meter race.
“They ran great outdoor debuts in the outdoor season in Raleigh, and it will be interesting to see for both of them to see where they can stack up in the 1500 meter compared to where they currently stack up nationally with Katie in the 5K and Olivia in the steeplechase,” Sparks said.
At the Drake Relays, Sparks expects some stiff competition in teams from the Dakotas and Missouri. There will be no Big Ten schools participating, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the Louisville side of things, Sparks is excited to see senior thrower Rachel Tanczos back in action, as she missed some time recently due to health reasons.
“Now she’s back in the mix again,” Sparks said. “And we would like to see her get back to where we would like to see her on the national level.”
Sparks also hopes that the men’s sprints group can be successful at Louisville.
“They’ve had a sense of competitiveness over the indoor season. There has been nothing to really put them on a competitive level within the conference,” Sparks said. “So now this will be one of the best times to step up and compete as they should make our final push for the ACC meet in a couple of weeks.”
With the ACC Championships fast approaching in a couple of short weeks, this weekend is vital for many to hit the marks they need to make the ACC Championships.