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Track and Field

Notre Dame Invitational: Irish thrive, Jacobs joins exclusive club

| Monday, January 24, 2022

On Saturday, January 22nd, while the cold winds blew outside of Loftus Sports Center under the gray winter sky, inside the building, the warm fluorescent lights shined bright for the 2022 Notre Dame Invitational. However, the lights were not the only thing shining in Loftus. The Irish had a plethora of highlight performances throughout the afternoon’s competitions against Loyola Chicago, Depaul, Indiana Tech and Lewis University.  Across many different events, Notre Dame put on an incredibly entertaining track meet for the fans in attendance. 

Even with the challenge of strong races via the representation from Depaul and Indiana Tech, the Notre Dame sprinting group managed to punch out a few finishes near the front of the pack. In the Women’s 400m dash, sophomore Eve Balseiro earned a second-place finish with a personal best time of 55.71. In the 800m race, the women’s team swept the podium finishes. Senior Erin Sullivan, junior Kaitlyn Ryan and sophomore Megan Hughes took 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Ryan and Hughes claimed individual personal records. 

In the 400m on the men’s side, as has become habit in their recent runnings, the athletes from Notre Dame have found themselves in a variable congregation just outside of the top of the podium. This meet, graduate student Theo Chambers led the lot with a third-place finish in 48.81 seconds. In a barnburner of a race, graduate student Max Frye was hot on his tail with a personal record of 48.83. 

Other assorted key performances included a personal-best by junior Nicholas Mota in the 3000m for a second place, a win by freshman Jadin O’Brien in the long jump, a win via season record by Nolan Blachowski in the Pole Vault, victories by both 4x400m relay teams and wins in two events by thrower Michael Shoaf.  

Despite a strong overall showing, there was one event that managed to stand out just a little higher above the rest this weekend. That would be the men’s and women’s 1600m run, commonly known as the mile. 

The deafening crack of the starting pistol marked the beginning of the women’s race that looked more like an open practice. It did not take long for seven Notre Dame runners to distinguish themselves from the competition. With 500 meters left, they build a nearly-insurmountable lead. It was a team win as the Irish finished in the top seven spots, all of which either hit marks of personal or season-bests. In the end, it was All-American junior Olivia Markezich who crossed the finish line first with a time of 4:46.57 in what she called “a rustbuster” of a race. 

Markezich talked about the goal of competing at the national championships at the end of the season both individually and possibly with a distance medley relay. When asked about what it means to her to have such a team-oriented race she said, “It is all about being there for your teammates” and that her teammates are her “life support.” Also in this race was freshman Sophie Novak who finished with fourth place, and a personal best, after being seeded eighth. 

Novak said, “I am just very grateful to be here and humbled I get to run with my teammates.”  

The men’s race flashed by in the blink of an eye. It was quite apparent that this would be a special race when an onlooker exclaimed, “They are trying to break four minutes today!” 

For those readers not quite accustomed to the running world, this is a feat that only 605 runners, as of the Notre Dame Invitational, have ever done in history. The men’s race shaped up just like the women’s did. From early on it looked like the Notre Dame show with only Irish runners finishing in the top six, all with season records or personal records.  The winner of this blisteringly fast race was Olympian Yared Nuguse in 3:54.46. He said about the race, “A big part of that race was pulling some of those guys to faster times and directly giving back to your team, so I always appreciate doing things like that for them.”

That is exactly what Yared would do as he pulled teammate Dylan Jacobs to his career-best time of 3:57.67. Therefore, he also pulled him into the exclusive sub-four-minute mile club as member 605. While Yared’s actions spoke to the phenomenal team spirit shared by the Irish, he also spoke about what his goals were for the rest of the season. 

While he helped Dylan break his own mark this weekend at Loftus, Nuguse had his eyes set on a greater mark later in the season. “I want to get the 3000m college record. In fact, there is going to be a fast race in a few weeks and I have a good shot, especially with seeing how good I was today at going for it.” These words of confidence about a possible record-setting season were masked behind a demeanor of complete approachability and humility as Yared spoke overwhelmingly kindly of his teammates and the coaching staff that got him to where he is today.  

While these two events provided a great deal of the firepower that could cause one to marvel at Notre Dame Track and Field, there were a large number of performances that were worthy of praise. The Notre Dame Invitational was indeed a resounding success for this team and will certainly prove to be a stepping stone for future success this season.           

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About Jack Sirianni

Jack Sirianni is a member of the Class of 2025 pursuing a major in Political Science with minors in Journalism and Public Policy. He is a proud resident of Fisher Hall and as a Michigan native, he can often be found enjoying the South Bend wilderness. Jack has also written for every Observer department on topics ranging from social justice to campus signage.

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