MADISON, Wisc. — On a snowy November day in Wisconsin, the Irish competed for a shot at the NCAA Championship title. For the first time since 2013 both the men and women competed as a team at the championship meet, with the women taking eighth overall and the men finishing 14th. The women’s top-10 finish marks only the sixth time in program history the team has placed in the top-10 overall and first since 2015. The men’s 14th place finish marks their best team standing since 2005 when they took third at the national meet.
The team also boasted a combined three All-Americans in Anna Rohrer, Jessica Harris and Danny Kilrea, who all finished in the top-40 of their respective races. Rohrer, a junior, is now a three-time All-American, the most for any Irish woman since Molly Huddle in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
The women began the season ranked 23rd in the USTFCCCA National Coaches’ Poll and continued to do well, advancing as high as 16th at one point.
“Our women that competed today ran like the veteran team they are,” Hatherly-Piane Head Coach Matt Sparks said. “We had a very solid performance across the top-five but graduate students Jessica Harris and Sydney Foreman especially rose to the occasion.”
Rohrer, who placed tenth overall, led the Irish with a time of 20:02.8. Harris finished second for the Irish and 37th overall, crossing the line in 20:32.90. Newcomer Jackie Gaughan and senior Rachel DaDamio also finished in the top-100. In her first meet on the national stage, Gaughan finished the 6K race in 20:47.80 while DaDamio concluded her final cross country race in 20:58.70. Sydney Foreman rounded out the scoring for the Irish, finishing 185th overall with a time of 21:45.60. Claudia Magnussen and AnnaSophia Keller finished approximately half a minute behind, clocking in at 22:09.60 and 22:19.90, respectively.
“Jessica’s talent and range as an athlete were truly on display as she now is a cross country All-American to go along with her mile All-American accomplishments,” Sparks praised. “Sydney Foreman has overcome so much during her time at Notre Dame. We could not be more proud to see her step and make a major contribution today.”
The men entered the 2018 season unranked in the national polls and continuously proved people wrong as they rose to prominence, peaking at 10th in the nation heading into the championship meet.
“I could not be more proud of the progress our men’s team has made over the last couple of years,” Sparks said. “To go from a program that could barely finish in the top-14 in the regional meet to finishing 14th in the country is a testament to the trust and respect these men have for Coach Carlson and each other.”
Assistant Coach Sean Carlson, who joined the Irish in 2011, has instilled a great camaraderie in his student-athletes and encourages them to put the team above themselves in order to find success on the course.
“In 2016, my first year (as assistant cross country coach) with the men, we were 14th in the region,” Carlson said. “Now, in 2018, we just finished 14th in the NCAA.”
Freshman Danny Kilrea, who earned All-America honors in the men’s 10K with his 33rd place individual finish was the first true freshman to cross the line in Madison, finishing in 29:55.2. Yared Nuguse was next to cross the line for the team, taking the 59th spot with a time of 30:13.6 and was followed by Anthony Williams in 97th, crossing the line in 30:35.80 to round out the Irish in the top-100. A mere fourteen seconds separated the next three Notre Dame runners as Tyler Keslin finished 145th, Andrew Alexander in 160th and Kevin Salvano claiming 167th. Bradley Wattleworth crossed the line in 31:36.70 for a 196th overall finish.
“These guys have bought in and are continuing to grow this program every single day,” he added. “I’m excited to see where we end up after another year of growth with this same group and some great additions.”