Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame advances to NCAA Championships

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country teams both advanced to the NCAA national championship after hard fought battles in the regional meet this last Friday in Terre Haute, Indiana. The men’s team, newly-crowned ACC champions, continued its hot streak and came in fourth overall, securing an automatic place in the championship. The men were led by sophomore Yared Nuguse and his third overall finish of 31:11.8 in the 10K, followed by freshman Danny Kilrea (31:19.2), sophomore Andrew Alexander (31:31.0), senior Anthony Williams (31:37.9) and junior Kevin Salvano (31:56.7). The men scored 91 points.

Connery McFadden | The Observer
Irish sophomore Yared Nuguse runs down the final straightaway during Notre Dame's National Catholic Invitational on Sept. 14 at Burke Golf Course.

The women’s team came in fourth overall on Friday, and waited till Saturday in order to hear that it would be awarded an at-large bid in the championship. Senior Anna Rohrer led the women, coming in second overall with a time of 20:20.1 in the 6K. Freshman Jackie Gaughan followed with a time of 20:42.4, followed by senior Rachel DaDamio (20:57.5) and graduate student Jessica Harris (20:58.1). Sophomore AnnaSophia Keller rounded out the top five at 21:46.5. The women’s team scored a total of 100 points, aided by four top-25 finishes.

Irish head coach Matt Sparks described the meet and the team’s approach in a mechanical sense, knowing that the team had what it took to advance.

“The first round of the championship was this past weekend and we went into that with a very business-like attitude,” Sparks said. “We knew we could take care of ourselves and do what we needed to do to get to the big one this coming weekend. Both teams took care of business. No one had an especially memorable day, but everyone held their own and stayed healthy and fresh and ready for the big one this coming Saturday.”

Sparks stressed consistency as a major factor for the team's success going forward.

"[Consistency] is a huge key as we go into the championship now, there’s a comfort level with where we are right now in our fitness and our training and our guys feel comfortable with where they are on the team,” Sparks said. "They know where to look in the race, like they know to see which teammates are near them and finding that person that they train with everyday gives them a lot of confidence and security going into the championship. And the coaching staff goes in with a lot more confidence as well because we’ve been doing the same stuff over the last few weeks … We don’t have to reinvent ourselves, just do the right thing over again. By the time people get to that championship environment, they change things up, but if you do the same things you’ve been doing you’ll fare very well.”

Notable individual performances in the meet included the performances of freshmen Jackie Gaughan and Danny Kilrea, both of whom cemented themselves even more so as integral figures to the Irish front five.

“Jackie and Danny, two freshmen, were highly touted coming out of high school, so there’s an expectation for both of them to compete at that level, but that doesn’t always translate to real world racing. But I think the key for each of them is that they’re both very confident in what they can do and the thing we’ve preached to them is: ‘be who you were in high school’ and you’re gonna be a good college runner … they’re just building off of who they were in high school, not trying to reinvent themselves just because they run at college now,” Sparks said.

The NCAA Championships will take place on Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.