NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s cross country programs aren’t thinking about the past.
Not about the results of the 2019 season so far — good or disappointing. Not even about last season, when the Irish men’s team won an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and the women’s program placed second.
None of that matters now as the Irish begin their championship pursuit with the postseason beginning Friday at the Meredith Buford Cross Country Course at Virginia Tech. They will look to repeat or improve upon those results of 2018, sure, but the focus now is only on the road ahead.
That’s why the Irish are content to shake off what they consider to be a disappointing showing two weeks ago at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, where the men placed 15th and the women came in 12th. Learn from it, sure, but with the knowledge that they continue to control their destiny as the postseason shoves off in the month of November.
“In football, if you lose a game it could affect your chances at making the playoffs, but in cross country in the first half of the season if you have a bad day, it may impact your momentum or confidence, but it has really no impact on whether you can do well at the end of the season,” Carlson said of his men’s squad. “The good news is the real season for us, that matters to us, starts on Friday. But, again, we have to be probably a better team than what we’ve been so far.”
It will be the first meet with real implications on where either Irish team end up at season’s end. First, it’s a race for the conference championship. Next will be the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, which will determine qualifications for the NCAA Championships.
Both men’s and women’s ACC fields feature six teams either ranked or receiving votes in the USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll. By the estimation of Hatherly-Piane Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Matt Sparks, his women’s squad will need to target 75 team points with his top five runners placing in the top 30. Carlson is looking for this scoring five to pack into the top 25.
“One of the unique things about our sport is that we can’t control what other people do,” Sparks said. “If (another team) comes out and runs great, and we hit the point total we’re working towards, we have to be content with our performance that day. But it’s all about being at your best at the right time of the year and we feel like our our top seven or eight are as ready as they’ve been all year.”
What: ACC Championships
When: Nov. 1, 2019
Where: Buford Meredith Cross Country Course | Blacksburg, Va.
Schedule of Events: Men’s Championship, 10 a.m. ET | Women’s Championship, 11 a.m. ET
Live Stream: ACC Network Extra (cable subscription) — Men’s Race | Women’s Race
Men’s Field: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, No. 21 Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), No. 23 NC State, North Carolina, No. 20 Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, No. 28 Syracuse, No. 23 Virginia, No. 26 Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Women’s Field: No. 27 Boston College, Clemson, Duke, No. 10 Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), No. 6 NC State, North Carolina, No. 17 Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, RV Syracuse, Virginia, No. 22 Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Irish Championship Lineup
Men (alphabetical): Andrew Alexander, Matthew Carmody, Brendan Fraser, Dylan Jacobs, Tyler Keslin, Danny Kilrea, Peter Monahan, Yared Nuguse, Kevin Salvano Tony Williams
Women (alphabetical): Erin Archibeck, Maddy Denner, Jackie Gaughan, Kelly Hart, Annasophia Keller, Jocelyn Long, Olivia Markezich, Anna Rohrer, Madison Ronzone, Erin Sullivan
By the Numbers
1 — The Irish opened the 2019 season with first-place finishes at the Crusader Open on Sept. 6 and at the National Catholic Invitational on Sept. 20.
1 — The Irish men’s cross country program claimed first place at the 2018 ACC Championships and were picked by the league’s coaches to repeat in this year’s ACC Preseason Coaches Poll.
2 — The Irish women’s squad finished second at last year’s conference championship and ranked No. 2 in the 2019 ACC Preseason Coaches Poll.
2 — The number of returning Irish women to earn All-ACC recognition after last season’s ACC Championships — then-senior Anna Rohrer (third) and freshman Jackie Gaughan (seventh).
3 — Anna Rohrer and then-sophomore Yared Nuguse each placed third in their respective races at last season’s ACC Championships to lead the Irish.
4 — The Irish women’s team returns four student-athletes who competed at the ACC and NCAA Championships last season.
4 — The number of Irish men to earn All-ACC recognition in 2018 after finishing in the top 21 at the ACC Championships. All four — Yared Nuguse (third), Tony Williams (sixth), Danny Kilrea (10th) and Andrew Alexander (16th) — return for 2019.
5 — The number of ACC women’s teams ranked in the USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll — No. 6 NC State, No. 10 Florida State, No. 17 Notre Dame, No. 22 Virginia Tech and No. 27 Boston College. Syracuse is also receiving votes.
6 — The Irish men’s team returns six student-athletes who competed at the ACC and NCAA Championships last season.
6 — The number of ranked teams in the men’s ACC Championship field. At No. 20, the Irish are the highest-ranked men’s team, followed by No. 21 Florida State, No. T23 NC State, No, T23 Virginia, No. 26 Virginia Tech, No. 28 Syracuse.
10 — Each team may race up to 10 individuals in the championship race.
17 — The Irish women ranked at No. 16 in the most recent USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll.
20 — The Irish men came in 20th in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll.
- After finishing in 10th place to lead all ACC runners at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, graduate student Anna Rohrer was named the ACC Women’s Performer of the Week last Wednesday for the second time this season.
- The Irish women placed 12th at the Nuttycombe Invitational, while the men came in 15th in the final meet of the regular season.
- Both Irish men and women came out on top in the season’s first two meets, first at the Crusader Open on Sept. 6 before opening the home slate on top at the National Catholic Invitational on Sept. 20.
- The Irish men recorded a perfect score at the National Catholic Invitational taking the top five spots. Dylan Jacobs took the NCI title in his cross country debut, followed by Matthew Carmody (second), Peter Monahan (third), Zach Kreft (fourth) and Tyler Keslin (fifth).
- The Irish women are led by three-time cross country All-American and 2016 ACC Cross Country Champion Anna Rohrer. After missing her junior cross country season, Rohrer returned as a senior and paced the Irish to an eighth-place national finish as the team’s top finisher in 10th place. All told, Rohrer is an eight-time All-America honoree between cross country and track.
- Sophomore Danny Kilrea finished 33rd at last season’s NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.
- Junior Yared Nuguse won a pair of national championships during the track season, anchoring the men’s distance medley relay at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and winning the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He finished third at both the ACC Cross Country Championships and the NCAA Great Lakes Regional last season.
- Sophomore Jackie Gaughan was also a major contributor for the Irish women last season, finishing seventh at the ACC Championships and sixth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
- Sophomore Maddy Denner has become a breakout leader for the Irish women this season, having posted individual victories in the season’s first two meets, and finishing in 11th place (less than a second behind Anna Rohrer) at the elite Nuttycombe Invitational.
- Maddy Denner and Jocelyn Long were mid-year transfers for the Irish last season, enrolling in January and competing during the track season. Denner competed in the 10,000 meters at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships, finishing 19th.
- Senior Kevin Salvano is making his first appearance in the Irish men’s lineup this season. Salvano finished in 22nd place at last season’s ACC Championship.
- Graduate student Tony Williams and senior Kevin Salvano are serving as men’s team captains this season, while graduate students Anna Rohrer and Kelly Hart serve in the same capacity for the women’s squad.
- Sean Carlson was promoted to head men’s cross country coach prior to the season. He had spent the previous five seasons as an Irish assistant coach primarily focused on distance.