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Observer Athletes of the Week: Bottelberghe, O’Brien lead the way

| Monday, January 24, 2022

A bevy of impressive performances across the tri-campus community lead to a hotly contested voting process for The Observer’s weekly athlete and team of the week awards. 

Team of the Week: Notre Dame Hockey

The Irish only played one game this week, so winning this was going to be a very tall task. However, Notre Dame responded with their most dominant effort of the year in a midweek rivalry clash with Boston College. In front of a rowdy and packed student section, the Irish throttled the Eagles, 8-2. 

Boston College entered the game just outside the top 20 and actually scored 17 seconds into the game. The Irish managed to tie the score in the first and then rode a five-goal outburst in the second period to take a commanding advantage. Offensively, sophomore forward Ryder Rolston notched a hat trick to lead Notre Dame to a season-high eight goals. 

Notre Dame improved to 16-7 with the win and will try to ride the momentum into a weekend home series with #11 Minnesota. Despite just the one game, the Irish’s most prolific offensive effort since February 6 of last season earned them the team of the week award. 

Men’s Athlete of the Week: Josh Bottelberghe, Notre Dame Swimming & Diving

Senior captain Josh Bottelberghe posted an incredible individual effort at the Tim Welsh Classic to edge out a couple of other elite performances for the Men’s Athlete of the Week. Bottelberghe is one of five seniors on the men’s roster and the school record-holder in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. He looked the part this past weekend, winning both of those events, while also contributing to two winning relay efforts. 

Bottelberghe’s weekend started quietly, anchoring the 200-yard freestyle relay to a 2nd-place finish. He then helped the Irish end day one in style, taking the second leg of the 400-yard medley relay. The Irish won the event by 0.42 seconds. Bottelberghe played the same role in the 200 medley relay to start day two of the event. He finished his leg — the 50-yard breaststroke — in 23.69 seconds, more than a full second sooner the next-best second-leg swimmer. 

Bottelberghe went on to claim some individual glory in his best events, winning the 100-yard breaststroke by 1.27 seconds. He outswam teammate Tyler Christianson for a 2.1-second victory in the 200. He led wire-to-wire in both events. The impressive four-victory performance from Bottelberghe was enough to earn the Athlete of the Week amidst heated competition. 

Honorable Mention: Matthew Galagda, Notre Dame Hockey

For the second straight week, Notre Dame hockey provided the honorable mention winner for the Men’s Athlete of the Week. Galagda and teammate Ryder Rolston were both nominated heavily alongside Bottelberghe for the weekly honor. The impressive bounce-back effort from Galagda featured a career-high 40 saves after giving up a goal on the first shot he faced. He stonewalled a couple of point-blank breakaway and rebound opportunities. 

Women’s Athlete of the Week: Jadin O’Brien, Notre Dame Track & Field

In a tight two-athlete race, freshman Jadin O’Brien rode a two-win performance at the Notre Dame Invitational to claim the Women’s Athlete of the Week. O’Brien won the long jump and anchored the winning 4×4 relay team in a strong effort for the Irish. 

The Irish freshman got things started in a big way for Notre Dame, winning the long jump in the first event of the meet. O’Brien sat in second place after her first jump of 5.55 meters but took the lead with a 5.66-meter leap on her second effort. Her third jump was good for 5.80 meters, a mark that no other jumper would exceed. She cemented her victory by jumping 5.82 meters on her final leap to win. 

O’Brien also won the preliminary 60-meter hurdle sprint, but she did not compete in the final. It was possibly an effort to conserve energy for the 4 x 400 relay, which ran just over an hour later. O’Brien anchored the winning effort for the Irish, as Notre Dame blistered their way to a win in 3:46.39. 

O’Brien’s victories in her only events of the day were enough to claim the Observer’s Women’s Athlete of the Week award. 

Honorable Mention: Colleen Gillilan, Notre Dame Swimming & Diving

Junior Colleen Gillilan won three individual events and contributed to a winning relay at the Tim Welsh Classic. All told, Gillilan competed in seven events in the two-day event for the Irish, leading the women’s team to victory. 

Gillilan’s first victory came in the 200-yard individual medley. She led wire-to-wire in both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly races, and she finished her weekend by swimming the third leg of the 400-yard freestyle. 

Other Nominees 

Michael Shoaf (ND Track & Field, second nomination), Ryder Rolston (ND Hockey, first), Grace Adams (Holy Cross WBB, first) and Rachel Tanzcos (ND Track & Field, second)

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About Aidan Thomas

A senior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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