Nov. 30, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame track and field team begins its 2017-18 indoor season with the Blue & Gold Invitational at 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday. The Irish will host six teams in the one-day competition.
Bethel, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Marquette, Northern Illinois and Valparaiso each will travel to Notre Dame for the meet at Loftus Sports Center.
WHAT: Blue & Gold Invitational
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017
WHERE: Loftus Sports Center
LIVE RESULTS: DeltaTiming.com
Five Indoor Qualifiers Return
Notre Dame returns five athletes who competed at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Jessica Harris, Kelly Hart and Peyton Miller, who qualified in the distance medley relay (Harris also in the mile), will compete with the Irish again this season. Rohrer, who won four Atlantic Coast Conference titles during last year’s cross country and track and field seasons, also will run. Finally, the ACC’s 2017 outdoor pole vault champion, Nathan Richartz, will return for the outdoor season.
What to Watch
Graduate student Indi Jackson and sophomore Abbey Kapitan will try to build off of outdoor seasons during which they qualified in the shot put for the NCAA Regional meet. Jackson, a 2017 All-ACC selection, owns a 16.23m personal record, while Kapitan has a personal record of 14.90m, set at the ACC Indoor Championships.
On the men’s side, Logan Kusky is looking to build off of a sophomore campaign that saw him score in the weight throw at the ACC Indoor Championships.
“Logan has become a leader and team captain,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said. “We are looking forward to him leading on and off the field.”
Senior multi-event athlete Rachel Rhodes will compete in the 60m hurdles, 400m dash, high jump and long jump on Friday. Rhodes made an immediate impact as a freshman but battled injury midway through her career. A Sherman, Illinois, native, Rhodes is expected to score for the Irish this season.
Junior Matthew Birzer, who qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, returns with the goal of jumping 7-foot-2 or higher. Birzer will look to maintain his consistency and even improve upon last year’s career season.
On the track, senior and 2017 NCAA Regionals qualifier Jordan Shead highlights the sprints squad. Shead, who will run the 400m, will be joined on the track by junior Kyla Lewis and sophomore Michaela Butler, who will race in the 60m dash.
“[Shead] has had an excellent fall training so far, and we are anxious to see how she opens up in the 400m,” Turner said. “[Lewis and Butler] have had a very good fall season of training. Getting off to a good start should really boost their confidence and season.”
Senior Drake Stimson and juniors Zachary Zajdel and Edward Cheatham will look to bounce back in the men’s sprints group. Sophomore Troy Pride Jr. will return to the track following the conclusion of the football season.
While the bulk of the team’s distance runners are recovering from the cross country season, graduate student Jacob Dumford will race in the 1,000m. Graduate student and Tulsa transfer Elijah Silva will race alongside Dumford in the 1,000m.
On the women’s side, senior Alexis Daugherty will try to bounce back in the 800m. Turner said that Daugherty, who owns a personal record of 2:11.34 in the 800m, is as healthy as she has ever been.
“In her fall workouts she has looked the best she ever has,” Turner said. “She is eager to get back on track.”
Notre Dame Debut
Freshman Antonio Villegas is scheduled to make his college debut, competing in the long jump and the 60m dash. The Floyds Knobs, Ind., native recorded a 24-foot long jump in high school.
“Hitting 24 [feet] in high school is a major barrier,” Turner said. “We are looking for him to start where he left off and open up with 24-foot jumps and continue to jump further, scoring big points for us at the ACC Championships.”
Also debuting for Notre Dame is freshman pole vaulter McKenna Caskey, one of the top incoming freshmen in the country. Caskey, who hails from Huntington Beach, California, recorded vaults over the 13-foot mark in high school.
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame returns to the track at 10:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 13, when it competes at the Wolverine Invitational (Ann Arbor, Mich.).
For more on the Irish track and field program, follow @NDXCTF on Twitter and ndxctf on Instagram.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer and cross country/track and field programs and is the secondary contact for women’s basketball. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.