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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Irish hitting stride heading into ACC championships

Notre Dame will compete in the indoor ACC championships this week in Boston as the Irish seek to establish themselves at the top of the ACC, especially on the women’s side.

Last year, the women’s team placed third in the conference behind senior defending 10,000-meter national champion Molly Seidel’s meet MVP performance. Irish head coach Alan Turner said he feels the women’s team is ready for the championship meet after a solid showing at the Alex Wilson Invitational last week.

Irish senior Molly Seidel participates in the 3,000-meter run at the Meyo Invitational. Seidel broke the school and meet record in the race.
Irish senior Molly Seidel participates in the 3,000-meter run at the Meyo Invitational. Seidel broke the school and meet record in the race.
Irish senior Molly Seidel participates in the 3,000-meter run at the Meyo Invitational. Seidel broke the school and meet record in the race.

“The mood [of the team] has been probably the best it’s been all season long,” Turner said. “We’re where we need to be right now. ... Basically everyone is healthy and rested and running well. We’re pretty confident we should have a pretty good showing at the ACC championships on the women’s side. … We’re trying to win the team title.”

To win the ACC indoor title in the women’s competition, Turner said the team needs strong performances all the way down the roster.

“Obviously our superstar All-American athletes, [senior Margaret] Bamgbose and Molly Seidel, they’re going to be asked to carry a big load in two individual events,” Turner said. “[Senior Danielle] Aragon needs to have a good meet. ... She’s peaking at the right time, and we think she’s definitely someone who should be in the top three in the mile for us. ... We think [graduate student Carly Loeffel] can compete and contend for that pentathlon title. ...

“It’s going to take a total team effort: We’re going to need every single point we can get.”

With All-Americans like Bamgbose and Seidel, Turner said he does not plan to make any last-minute adjustments to their winning formulas. For younger runners, like freshman Anna Rohrer however, Turner said he just has to remind them they're ready to be on the big stage.

“Molly and Margaret have been there before, they know what to do, so I really don’t have to tell them much,” Turner said. “Freshman like Anna Rohrer, even though she had an outstanding cross country year ... she hasn’t been on a championship track team. I talked to her yesterday and I said, ‘You have the 3,000[-meter run], you have the 5,000[-meter run], just do what you’ve been doing all season long. Run as hard as you can and try to go for the win.’ It hasn’t been so much me telling them extra things, just ‘Hey, continue to do what you’re doing.’”

The men’s team finished 12th out of 15 teams at last year’s indoor conference meet, and Turner said though the men’s squad lacks the depth to compete for a conference championship, he feels the team is ready to make a statement.

“For the men, we’re also coming along at the right time. We know we don’t have the depth on the men’s side to be anywhere in the top three team-wise, but for the men, our goal is if we can just break into the top half of the conference.”

Turner singled out a couple strong individual performances the team will need to rely on to begin climbing up the standings.

“I’m looking for [junior pole-vaulter] Nate Richartz to have a good performance,” Turner said. “He’s really going to have his hands full in that pole-vault. ... It will be very tough for him to pull off that title, but he definitely can do it. ... [Junior thrower] Anthony Shivers for us in the weight [throw]. He broke our school record for us last week so we can just ride that high and we think he can get into the top three.”

In order for the women to take home the title, Turner said the Irish will face strong competition from a number of teams.

“Clemson is definitely the [favorite] on the women’s side,” Turner said. “On paper, they should win probably by about 15 points. We’ll see what happens. I think ourselves, Clemson and Miami, we’re going to split up some of those sprint points. Virginia has a strong team, so does North Carolina.”

As the team prepares to begin competition on Thursday, Turner said the key for the team is mental toughness and believes his squad is in the right place mentally.

“In this sport, there’s not a lot that separates that person who’s a champion from that person who’s fifth or sixth,’ Turner said. “But if you’re mentally strong, that can carry you over the top, and my team is exactly where we need to be as a whole. We’re going to take roughly about 55 athletes to the meet and I know all 55 are not going to make the finals and score and be champions. But all those 55 are mentally ready to go, and that’s going to help us so much [this] week at the ACC meet.”

The ACC championships start Thursday and run through Saturday in Boston.