April 26, 2017
By Megan Golden
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Coming off a record-setting weekend, the University of Notre Dame track and field team traveled to Philadelphia to compete in the annual Penn Relays from April 27-29 at Franklin Field.
The Irish men’s squad will make its first appearance in roughly 50 years at the Penn Relays, and the women’s team will compete at the meet for the first time in program history. Given the high-energy nature of the meet, Irish head coach Alan Turner insisted that his squad experience the track and field festival’s 123rd installment.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Penn,” he said. “I remember the great experiences I had as an undergraduate at Franklin Field and competing in front of crowds.
“I think every American kid that participates in the sport of track and field should at least once in their lifetime have the opportunity to compete at Franklin Field for the Penn Relays. For most people, it’s probably the biggest crowd you’ll ever compete in front of. I wanted to switch it up to get my athletes some different competition, a different venue and that one-of-a-kind Penn Relays experience.”
Turner said he would use his experience as a former student-athlete to prepare the team for everything from the large crowd to the unusual warm-up procedures.
“I’m going to stress to them to not get all caught up in the crowd. Use the crowd to your advantage; use that energy to your advantage,” he said. “I’m going to get them prepared as well as I can, but I’m going to make sure they feed off the energy of the crowd in town.
“It can be nerve-wracking the first time you go. It’s a little bit different than your normal and average track meet. It sure is exciting and gets the adrenaline pumping, and I want [the team] to have the same experience I did as a student-athlete.”
What to Watch
Notre Dame’s travel roster for the three-day meet includes primarily sprinters, jumpers and throwers, all of whom are looking to better their marks as the postseason draws near.
One of the highlights of the weekend will be the return of the women’s distance medley relay squad, which raced to an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and an All-America finish at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships earlier this year. Graduate student Danielle Aragon (1200), juniors Jessica Harris (1600) and Payton Miller (400) and sophomore Kelly Hart (800) will join forces and compete for yet another first-place finish in the relay.
Seniors Anthony Shivers and Nathan Richartz return to the field following impressive performances at the Michael Johnson Invitational last weekend. Shivers, who threw 66.21m in the hammer throw on Friday, ranks 29th in the country and will need to break his own school record at least once more in order to qualify for the national meet. Richartz’s 5.51m vault is tied for eighth-best in the country.
“[Richartz is] cooking at just the right time, and we’re looking for him to be pretty consistent,” Turner said. “Hopefully, he can get another vault up in the 18’4” range for us.
In the women’s 4x400m relay, the Irish will run juniors Jordan Shead and Payton Miller and freshmen Summer Thorpe and Grace Cronin. Thorpe also will race in the 4x100m relay, alongside sophomore Kyla Lewis and freshmen Naya Sharp and Michaela Butler.
Senior Indi Jackson will try to raise her 15.96m mark in the shot put with the ultimate goal of competing at the national meet. Jackson’s throw ranks 36th nationally, and she will need to add roughly one meter to her throw in order to qualify.
For a closer, behind-the-scenes look at the Irish track and field program, follow @NDXCTF on Twitter.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. 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.