Jan. 20, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame track and field team returns home to host the Notre Dame Invitational at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday. The Irish men and women, each coming off of a third-place finish at Illinois, are one step closer to competing in peak form.
Notre Dame will compete against the likes of DePaul, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia. The No. 9-ranked Irish women’s squad will have its first true test as it faces No. 12 Michigan and No. 16 North Carolina State. No. 19-ranked Virginia leads the men’s teams.
WHAT: Notre Dame Invitational
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017
WHERE: Loftus Sports Center (Notre Dame, Ind.)
THE CHAMP IS BACK
Three-hundred and fourteen days have passed since Molly Seidel won her fourth national championship. Seidel, who finished her last indoor track and field season with titles in the 3,000m and 5,000m races, is scheduled to make her debut as an Irish graduate student.
This time, Seidel is prepared to try something new.
As the distance squad continues to build endurance and speed heading into the postseason, Seidel and sophomore Anna Rohrer will compete in the mile in order to focus on fundamentals. While the mile is not their specialty, they do have previous experience in the race.
Seidel owns a PR of 4:42.76, while Rohrer’s PR stands at 4:50.02.
“I actually am really, really excited to run the mile because it’s something that I ran all the time in high school and haven’t gotten a chance to do it much in college. It’s kind of that fun factor; it’s definitely different from what I normally do,” Seidel said. “I’m super pumped to get to be back out and be racing with everybody. Just being back in a team atmosphere is so much fun and a whole different kind of feel from what it’s been the past couple of months. I’m really excited to be a part of a team again.”
Seidel said at this point in the season, she is focusing primarily on developing her top-end speed. Short races, unlike the 3,000m and 5,000m events, require more speed.
“I don’t get a chance to work on that really gut-busting fast stuff,” she said. “This is the time right now, when maybe I’m not in the prime racing shape, to be working on some things I’m not as strong at. It gives me the chance, mentally, to work on something that’s completely different from what I normally do.”
As for the outcome, Seidel is not stressing too much over who wins.
“Going into it, I always try to have the mentality of doing the best I possibly can. It can always change depending on what the heat sheet’s going to say,” Seidel said. “There definitely are going to be some really fast people in there. It’s exciting to know that I’m going to be able to go out and race as hard as I absolutely can, and I might not be able to go out and win it, but I’m going to be able to work on some of my weaknesses and try and improve on that. Maybe take a little hit to my ego, get a chip on my shoulder and get the hunger back.”
ONE STEP AT A TIME
All eyes will be on senior pole vaulter Nathan Richartz, an All-American and leader on the Irish jump squad. Richartz, like Seidel, has added height to his jump in each meet this season. On Saturday, he plans to compete at full force.
“The vault is a very technical event, so we try to take it slow so we retain good technique. Our first couple of meets, we start from a shorter approach, which allows us to hone in on that technique,” Richartz said. “Slowly, as the season goes on, we back up, bringing more speed into the vault. Hopefully, that technique sticks.”
Richartz said his goal is to jump close to 17.5 feet, which is the equivalent of 5.3 meters. In the previous two meets, he has jumped 5.00 and 5.10 and recorded first and second place, respectively.
As an upperclassmen on an extremely young men’s squad, Richartz has taken on a unique leadership role. Given the men’s team’s third-place finish at Illinois, he said, the squad is heading into Saturday seeking redemption.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a traditional demanding leadership style; I try to keep things light and I set a good example and bring a positive attitude every day. Hopefully, that rubs off on the team,” he said. “The guys are ready to go.”
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.