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Irish prepared for weekend track meets as a buildup to the postseason

| Friday, April 8, 2022

The Notre Dame Track and Field team will split up this weekend, heading to both the Tennessee Relays in Knoxville or the Joe Walker Invitational at Ole Miss. The women’s distance will head to Ole Miss, and the sprinters and field athletes will travel down to Tennessee.

One athlete that head Women’s Track and Field coach Matt Sparks is excited to see this weekend is junior distance runner Olivia Markezich, who will run her first outdoor meet of the season.

“Olivia Markezich will make her competitive debut this weekend. I am not sure what event she is going to do,” Sparks said. “She was an All-American on our distance medley relay, and she’ll kick off the outdoor season this weekend.”

Sparks is also excited to see graduate student thrower Rachel Tanczos compete.

“Another one that continues to improve week-by-week is Rachel Tanczos. She had a very sub-par performance at Texas [a couple of weeks ago], and she had an improvement this weekend at Illinois State. We want to continue to make big steps in her last season of eligibility,” Sparks said.

Although this meet will be important for athletes to start getting marks, the long term goal is the national meet.

Sparks discussed what he expects for his team going forward this season.

“The long term goal for the season is to build towards that top-20 finish at the outdoor national meet. To qualify for the regional meet, you just have to be in the top-48 in the region,” Sparks said. “A lot of our regular season will be working towards a qualifying mark and making sure you are in the top-48.”

Head Men’s Track and Field coach Sean Carlson hopes that the Irish can get a large group of athletes at regionals in the build-up to the national meet.

“I think it would be really cool for us to send a big group to regionals,” Carlson said. “I think we can bring somewhere from 15-25, which would be really cool.”

Carlson hopes that the athletes who end up qualifying for Nationals can score some big points to put the Irish within reach of the top-20.

“If a couple of those guys can score some big points, that will hopefully put us in the top-20 at outdoor nationals, which will be at least moving the needle forward for the program,” Carlson said.

The Irish are known for their strong distance program, and Sparks expects the 10,000m event to be a strong suit for the Irish this season.

“The 10,000 is an event we take a lot of pride in,” Sparks said. “That should be an event where we should excel when we compete outside.”

The Irish have already excelled in the 10,000m this season with graduate student Andrew Alexander having already broken the school record in the event earlier this season when he ran a time of 28:24.42 at the Raleigh Relays.

Carlson praised Alexander for his race, seeing this race as an indicator for the future success of the distance group this season.

“It was really good feedback for him and just an awesome race for him. It’s impressive to run that fast this early and to solidify himself in our program. I also think it’s a really good sign as to where the rest of our guys are headed,” Carlson said. “I think it’s pretty realistic to expect that school record to fall again by some of our guys. I am very proud of the direction that group is going.”

Sparks acknowledged that the javelin is another strong suit for his program, which should help his team score more points in the outdoor season.

“We add a few outdoor events that will help our national profile but also our conference finish as well,” Sparks said.

The Tennessee Relays will take place Thursday to Saturday and the Joe Walker Invite will occur Friday and Saturday.

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

Contact Nate