March 10, 2016
By Molly Jergenson
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Following a successful Atlantic Coast Conference meet, the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams were able to qualify five individuals and one relay to race at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The Championship will take place next week in Birmingham, Alabama. To meet the standards, the individuals needed to have performances this season that placed them in the top 16 of declared athletes on the descending order list for their event.
Going into the championships, the women’s team is ranked seventh in the country and has the opportunity to finish higher than any Notre Dame women’s track and field team in school history. “All season long I’ve talked about finishing in the top 10, and that continues to be a reasonable goal,” Irish head coach Alan Turner commented. “If everyone performs to their ability, we could come away finishing even better than expected.” Looking at the numbers, this weekend is shaping up to be one for the record books.
Leading the group, two-time National Champion Molly Seidel will be competing in the women’s 5,000m on Friday night and the women’s 3,000m Saturday. At the ACC Championship, Seidel easily won both events. She goes into the NCAA meet with the year’s leading 5,000m collegiate time of 15:19.64, which places her fourth on the list of all-time best collegiate indoor performances in the event. Seidel is seeded second in the 3,000m, just behind freshman Allie Ostrander from Boise State. Ostrander placed second behind Seidel at the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships and will be looking to challenge her in both events.
Notre Dame’s own freshman standout, Anna Rohrer, will run both the 5,000m and 3,000m too. She will be looking to build on her successful finish in the fall NCAA Cross Country Championships, where she placed sixth. Rohrer’s 5,000m time of 15:32.03 has her seeded third in the event, just behind Seidel and Ostrander. After finishing second to Seidel in both events at the ACC Championships, the duo is expected to continue performing as a strong force in the distance events.
In the women’s 400m, Margaret Bamgbose will represent the Irish in her seventh consecutive NCAA Championship meet. Although she enters the meet as the No. 15 seed, Bamgbose finished sixth in last year’s outdoor championship and eighth at the indoor NCAA’s in the event. As an eight-time All-American, she comes into the meet as an experienced, consistent veteran, prepared to compete at the highest level.
After battling off-and-on injuries throughout her career, fifth-year senior Kaila Barber comes into the meet healthier than ever, with a good solid block of training behind her. Barber’s main event outdoors is the 400m hurdles, and her last appearance at the NCAA outdoor meet was subpar as she was racing on a stress fracture in her foot. Since then, Barber has come back stronger than ever and has had a successful indoor campaign to place her in the field in the 100m hurdles competition.
Nate Richartz is Notre Dame’s lone male qualifier to the meet, and the only Notre Dame competitor in the field events. Two weeks ago, Richartz had an enormous performance at the ACC Championship, vaulting 17 feet 11 inches (5.46m) to break the Notre Dame school record and win the conference title. He is seeded eighth in the meet. After finishing 14th in the outdoor NCAA Championships last year, Richartz looks to improve upon that performance and earn first team All-American honors.
The women’s distance medley relay (DMR) qualified for the national meet at the Alex Wilson Invitational at home two weeks ago. The Irish will not run the same squad they did for their qualifier, and will instead race with Jessica Harris on the 1,200m leg, Parker English in the 400m, Jamie Marvil in the 800m, and Danielle Aragon in the mile.
Harris is a 2:06 800m runner who has developed strength and consistency over the past year. Last year, she ran the race injured, but is coming to the meet this year healthy and more experienced than in the past.
English and Marvil are new to the relay on the championship level. English is a 54-second 400m runner, while Marvil is a 2:08 800m runner. Both have shown consistent improvement throughout the year and will bring added stability to the team.
Danielle Aragon is a 4:37-miler, with the closing speed that will be needed in a championship race. This will be Aragon’s fourth trip to the NCAA meet as part of the DMR. Each of the previous years Aragon has competed on the relay, the team has come home with first team All-American accolades.
“I feel a reasonable goal for the weekend is to come away with each of our student-athletes earning First Team All-American honors,” Turner stated. “Molly could be in the running for athlete of the meet, our first-timers at the NCAA Championships are well prepared, and everyone is in shape to perform very well.”
The meet will be streamed live both Friday and Saturday on ESPN3. To get updates from the Irish, follow us on twitter @NDXCTF and UND.com.
Molly Jergenson serves as the Director of Operations for the Track & Field and Cross Country teams at the University of Notre Dame