Feb. 26, 2016
by Molly Jergenson
BOSTON — For Notre Dame, the second day of the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center was highlighted by the record-breaking performances of Molly Seidel and Anna Rohrer in the 5,000 meters, as well as a huge breakthrough performance for freshman Matt Birzer in the high jump.
Going into the second day of the heptathlon, Brent Swanberg was in fifth place with 2,959 points. The morning began with the 60 hurdles, where Swanberg ran 8.59 and placed sixth in the field. His time was enough to move him into fourth place in the overall standings. In the pole vault competition, Swanberg finished with a height of 4.45m (14-7.25) for fourth in the field and best his personal mark by five centimeters. In the last event, the 1,000 meters, Swanberg ran 2:44.88, just a second off his personal best. He finished with a career-high 5,364 points, good for third place overall.
In men’s high jump, Birzer and Hunter Holton both jumped personal bests to contribute to the team score. Birzer’s jump of 2.10m (7-1) was a huge improvement from his previous best of 2.07m (6-9.5) and allowed him to finish in second place and was third on the Notre Dame all-time chart. Holton cleared 2.07m to place eighth and score one point for the Irish. Their combined score of nine points was higher than expected, and made a huge contribution to the men’s team score.
“Matt’s second place performance was huge,” Notre Dame head coach Alan Turner said. “It’s impressive for a freshman to come in ranked ninth and perform so well. That really helps our men’s score.”
In the second heat of the women’s mile, the four leaders ran together for much of the race with Danielle Aragon and Rachel DaDamio in the mix. Over the last two laps, Aragon surged to the front of the pack and stretched the race out to finish first in her heat (and overall) in 4:42.58, automatically qualifying for the finals. DaDamio stuck with the leaders through 1,200 meters and was able to hang on to a fifth-place finish, running a five-second personal-best time of 4:45.57. Her time was fast enough to hit the time qualifier and move her on to join Aragon in Saturday’s final.
Out of the first heat of the men’s mile, Jake Dumford ran a tactical race, surging to the lead with 400 meters to go and placing second in 4:06.42, gaining an automatic qualifier to the final round. Chris Marco led much of the race, but after a collision at the 1,300 meter mark, he was thrown off his pace and ran to a fourth-place finish of 4:09.40.
Kaila Barber came in to the 60-meter hurdles with the fastest seed time in the conference at 8.14 seconds. In the preliminary round, she ran 8.20 to win her heat and easily advance to the finals. Also in the event, Taylor Craft ran 8.84, just off her season best of 8.76.
As expected, Margaret Bamgbose won her preliminary heat of the 400 meters and advanced to finals with the second-fastest time in the field (54.21). Parker English was the next finisher for Notre Dame, running 55.24 to finish 10th. Payton Miller and Jordan Shead also competed in the event, running 55.80 and 56.36, respectively.
In the men’s 400, the Irish sent both Alex Groesch and Harvey Smith through to the finals. Groesch ran 48.38 with Smith finishing right behind in 48.40. Drake Stimson ran 48.78 to finish 11th in the field.
Kaila Barber came back for her second race of the day to run 7.46 in the 60-meter dash, running one-tenth of a second faster than she had so far this year and qualifying for Saturday’s finals. Also in the event, Kyla Lewis posted a career-best time of 7.60 and Ally Bartoszewicz finished in 7.87.
In the 800 meters, Jessica Harris jumped to the front of her heat in the preliminary rounds and led the field with a time of 2:07.16, automatically qualifying to the finals. In the second heat of the 800, Jamie Marvil stuck close to the leader and finished second in 2:09.94. Unfortunately, Marvil’s heat was won in the slowest time of the day and she was the first individual to miss qualifying for finals. Also in the event, Kelly Hart finished in 2:11.79 and Sam Murray in 2:12.88.
In the women’s 200-meter dash, English had the best race of the event, running a personal best of 24.55. Bamgbose won her heat, finishing in 24.19 for 10th place overall, while Lewis finished in 24.97.
For their second races of the day, Groesch and Smith came back to compete in the 200. Both competed well, Smith finishing in 21.81 and Groesch in 22.16. Smith’s time was good for ninth place, just outside making the finals. Both will return Saturday for the 400 finals and the 4×400 relay.
Molly Seidel won the ACC indoor 5,000-meter title in 15:19.64, crushing the Notre Dame, ACC and conference meet records, in addition to being the fastest time in the NCAA this year.
The women’s 5,000 was the event of the day for the Irish. From the gun, the race was led by Seidel, Rohrer, Erica Kemp of North Carolina State, and Danielle Winslow of Boston College. After a mile, Rohrer took the lead as she and Seidel broke off from others. With about a mile to go, Seidel put the hammer down and separated the competition, racing to the win. Her final time of 15:19.64 is a new Notre Dame record, a new ACC Championship record, a new ACC Conference record, the fourth-best time run for the event indoors by a collegiate woman, and the current leading time in the NCAA.
Rohrer continued to run a very strong race, finishing in second with a time of 15:32.03, which is being verified as the new National Junior Indoor Record and is now the second-fastest time run by a Notre Dame woman. Also in the race, Lexi Pelletier was back with the chase pack running her own successful race. She finished in sixth place with a time of 16:17.22 for her first 5,000 in a Notre Dame singlet, also jumping up to the sixth-fastest time in school history.
The men’s unseeded section of the 5,000 also was an exciting race for the Irish, as Kevin Pulliam, Tim Ball, and Brent Kennedy all vied for the win. In the end, they each finished within one second of their best times this season. Pulliam was third in the heat with 14:25.83, Ball fourth in 14:29.43, and Kennedy seventh in 14:31.78.
“The women are about where I expected us to be,” Turner said. “It would have been great to get someone else to the finals in the 200 or 400, but we’re still in a good place. Getting Kaila Barber through in the 60 and Rachel DaDamio in the mile was great. Those big performances will help us in the scoring (Saturday). The meet has gotten to be a very tight race between us, Clemson, Miami, and Florida State. Our advantage is in the distance events, but this meet may come down to the last race (Saturday). We’re in a good place, but we have a lot of work to do!”
At the end of Friday’s action, the Notre Dame women and men are both in fourth place with 32 points and 18 points, respectively. The remaining events will finish up Saturday to determine the final team scores. Day three of the ACC Championships gets under way at 11 a.m. (ET) at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.
— ND —
Molly Jergenson serves as the Director of Operations for the Track & Field and Cross Country teams at the University of Notre Dame