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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
The Observer

Irish post record-breaking performance at Alex Wilson Invitational

In Notre Dame’s final home meet of the year, the Irish, running a smaller team, set several school records while simultaneously setting themselves up for success at this week’s ACC championships.

Saturday’s Alex Wilson Invitational was highlighted by the performance of the men’s distance-medley relay, which combined for a time of 9:26.10 to set a program record and nation-leading time this season. Just 0.12 seconds off the NCAA record, the Irish team of freshman Dylan Jacobs, senior Edward Cheatham, and sophomores Samuel Voelz and Yared Nuguse now owns the second-fastest distance-medley relay finish in NCAA history. Irish head coach Matt Sparks commented on the near-record-setting performance and credited the overall preparation that the squad went through for this singular event on Saturday.

“Coach [Sean] Carlson really put a premium on getting ready for this time of year with those guys,” Sparks said. “If you look at the roster of those who competed, [specifically] Dylan Jacobs and Sam Voelz — they competed, between the two of them — in one meet leading up to this event. But the fitness was there, and so the emphasis of what they were preparing for all year was this meet, and they really came out strong, and Yared went from fourth to first in the last half mile of the race. They’re getting competitive at the right time, and they’re [maximizing] their fitness at the right time.”

Irish freshman Matthew Carmody (10) and sophomore Brendan Fraser (6) compete in the 3000-meter race at the Meyo Invitational

However, it wasn’t just on the track that the Irish broke records over the weekend, as junior thrower Logan Kusky broke his own school record in the men’s weight throw by setting a mark of 21.13 meters. Sparks said Kusky has shown steady improvement throughout the spring season, and is now close to qualifying for the national championships — a goal the junior will aim to accomplish at this week’s ACC championships.

“Logan especially has been competitive on a conference level, but has now established himself to be competitive on a national stage,” Sparks said. “Now he’s ranked top 20 in the country, and so we’re hoping to put the finishing touches on his first national qualifying experience — being ranked in the top 16 after this upcoming weekend. So he needs to get a little bit better, but he took a big step this weekend and put himself in those conversations.”

The Irish weren’t finished with their record-setting performances in the field, however, as two throwers on the women’s team broke the school record. Freshman Rachel Tanczos first set the record with a throw of 20.12 meters, two rounds before junior Abbey Kapitan set the record herself with a mark of 20.13 meters — a complimentary performance that Sparks said was indicative of their teamwork.

“It’s neat to see them work together every day in practice, but also work together during the competition to push each other to continue to break that record,” Sparks said. “It was some fun for both of them, I think, to have each other to share that experience with.”

Sparks further elaborated on the sense of teamwork and camaraderie that his team showed at the Invitational, saying that energy permeated throughout the building on Saturday.

“Just the passion — and not only from the athletes that competed on that level, but the ability for their teammates to share those experiences with them,” Sparks said. “That’s obviously what makes it fun for the athletes, that they have to the opportunity to compete in front of people that care about them … people watching the event and watching the mark go up on the board. The energy that the rest of the team displayed over the competition was measured.”

This week, the Irish will compete at the ACC championships on Thursday through Saturday in Blacksburg, Virginia.