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Track and field competes at Notre Dame Invitational

The Notre Dame track and field team competed this weekend at the Notre Dame Invitational with the women’s team finishing second and the men finishing third. The Irish also collected six event titles across both teams.

Although some athletes competed last weekend in Ann Arbor, this was the first competition of 2023 for the majority of Irish athletes. Head coach Matt Sparks used this meet as a tune-up to get back in the swing of competition.

“It’s a good rust buster. We had a small group compete last week in Michigan,” Sparks said.

Sparks acknowledged that his team had a later start to practice this season because of the academic year starting later.

“One unique thing this year is that the academic year started later, so our practice started a little bit later than a lot of the country and teams we compete against,” Sparks said.

Saturday’s meet served as a litmus test and a great opportunity for the Irish to measure where they were after the holiday break.

“This first meet was good to see where everybody’s fitness is and what everybody did over break and grow from there,” Sparks said. “It’s a bit like a pretest at school. We had our pretest, and in about five weeks we will have our conference meet and national meet and see where everybody is.”

Sparks expects all of his athletes to continue to improve as the season goes on.

“There are still a lot of steps to take. We aren’t going to put a lot of emphasis on the good or bad that happened today. We all just need to get better from here,” Sparks said.

Sparks noted a few top performers from the meet. “In the field, [junior thrower] Blake Kusky had a big throw in the weight throw for him. It was a big PR,” Sparks said. Kusky’s throw was a personal record of 18.98m in the weight throw to place third.

Junior thrower Michael Shoaf also had a strong performance in the weight throw, finishing second with a throw of 20.49m. On the women’s side, junior thrower Emma Albano placed third in the weight throw with a distance of 15.89m. Albano also claimed second in the shot put with a toss of 12.83m.

Sparks also praised the performance of sophomore distance runner Sonia Chisholm. Making her Irish debut, Chisholm won the women’s 3000m race with a time of 9:16.46.

“In her first track meet for Notre Dame, [Sonia] ran one of the top ten fastest times in school history,” Sparks said.

The Irish took the two through four spots in the women’s 3000m race as well. Senior Katie Thronson, sophomore Sophie Novak, and sophomore Erin Strzlecki all finished right behind Chisholm. 

The Irish women also took second through fourth in the mile. Graduate student Anna Sophia Keller led the way for the Irish, finishing second in a time of 4:48.02. Graduate student Katie Ryan and sophomore Molly Grant followed Keller, finishing with times of 4:55.19 and 4:56.11, respectively. On the men’s side, junior Carter Cheeseman took first in the mile with a time of 4:07.91.

In the 400m run, sophomore Eve Balseiro took home first place with a time of 55.35. On the men’s side, Joey Dobrydney took third place with a time of 49.16.

In the long jump, sophomore Jadin O’Brien took first place with a mark of 5.78m. Sophomores Alaina Brady and Kendall Burgess took third and fourth in the event with marks of 5.60m. 

In the women’s high jump, sophomore Madison Schmidt won the event with a mark of 1.72m. Senior Arianna Martinez took second with a mark of 1.67m. 

Sparks discussed the varying goals of the individual athletes who competed this weekend.

“The majority of the team is working towards the conference meet and how they can contribute to the team’s success at conference,” Sparks said. “We have 5-10 athletes who have nationals aspirations,” Sparks said. “The regular season builds towards putting themselves in a position to be competitive in Albuquerque in March.”

The Irish are back in action next weekend at the Lenny Lyles Invitational in Louisville, which is where the conference meet will be later on in the season.

“It will be nice to get on that track. ACCs are going to be there, so we will get a feel for what that facility is going to be like,” Sparks said. “It’s just another opportunity to feel out where everybody is at the time,” Sparks said.

Contact Nate Moller at nmoller2@nd.edu.

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Irish dominate jumps, take two wins at Michigan Invitational

The Notre Dame track and field squad competed for the first time in 2023 at the Michigan Invitational. On Friday, the Irish competed against a host of schools, including Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Madonna and Toledo. Notre Dame claimed a pair of first-place finishes in women’s high jump and long jump. Those performances sparked a strong team effort featuring 16 top-five finishes. Sophomores Madison Schmidt (high jump) and Kendall Burgess (long jump) took home victories for Notre Dame.

Senior sprinter Shae Douglas started the Irish off strong by qualifying for the finals in the 60m sprint. She ran a 7.74 in the finals to secure a third-place finish. Douglas later earned another podium finish in the 200m, delivering a personal best of 24.94 seconds to claim third place.

Sophomore hurdler Alaina Brady represented one of two Irish sprinters in the 60m hurdle finals, and she brought home a second-place finish, finishing in 8.61 seconds. Brady later added a third-place finish in the long jump. Freshmen Reese Sanders and Remy Finn added top-five finishes for the Irish in the 600m and 400m, respectively.

That set the stage for the Irish to dominate in the jumps. Burgess won the long jump with a leap of 5.71 meters. Brady and Finn followed with top-six efforts. Schmidt led a quartet of Irish jumpers to sweep the top four in the high jump. Schmidt’s winning jump of 1.71m edged sophomore Jadin O’Brien, senior Arianna Martinez and junior Sarah Flight.

O’Brien struggled early in the day, disqualifying herself from the finals in two sprints. She ended her meet strong with the high jump effort, as well as a third-place finish in the shot put.

On the men’s side, the Irish only competed in the 400m. Three sprinters participated, led by sophomore Joey Dobrydney’s fourth-place effort. He finished with a 49.87, while senior sprinter Luke Phillips took eighth with a personal best of 50.49 seconds.

The Michigan Invitational marked the beginning of the real indoor season for the Irish. They had previously competed in a pair of Invitationals at the beginning of December. However, they’ll compete in six straight weekends leading into the ACC Championships at the end of February. Notre Dame continues that stretch by hosting the Notre Dame Invitational next Saturday. It’s one of three events the Irish will host this season.

Contact Aidan Thomas at athoma28@nd.edu.