March 9, 2018
By Matt Paras
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – On the opening day of the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, the Notre Dame track and field team had great performances across the board, including a silver medal in the men’s distance medley relay. The men’s team currently sits in a tie for eighth place with eight points.
Jacob Dumford got the Irish going in the 1200m leg of the DMR. He took over the lead with three laps remaining in his leg and passed the baton off in first place after a 2:56.73 split. Edward Cheatham kept the Irish near the front of the pack after his leg in the 400m (48.30). Silva moved the Irish into the top-three before handing the baton off for the anchor leg (1:49.29). Yared Nuguse was the closer for the Irish and impressed everyone with his finish in the race’s final lap. He kicked to the outside on the final turn and passed two teams to earn a silver medal and first team All-American honors for the Irish. The relay team finished with a time of 9:31.22, including a 3:56.90 mile split by Nuguse.
“That group and their story is incredible!” said assistant coach Sean Carlson. “Dumford, our 1200 leg, has been through three coaches in five years. Today he did what we talked about all year. He handed off in the lead-off leg of the national meet in first place. Cheatham, our 400 leg, was a student manager for two years that we let walk on the team. Elijah, our 800 leg, is a fifth-year grad student that had not run a race in two years before he got here. He battled through a lot to get to this point. Nuguse, our 1600 leg, is a freshman that has stepped up big time and bought in to the culture of what we are doing here from day one and it showed tonight! I’m proud of every single one of them for not just for this race but for what they bought in to here at Notre Dame.”
Jessica Harris began the meet for the Irish when she ran in the semifinals of the women’s mile. Coming into the event, she had the ninth-fastest seed time. The top-four times from each heat plus the best two remaining would advance to the final on Saturday.
Harris ran in the second heat and stayed in the lead pack of runners through the first half of the race. At the halfway mark, Harris made her push and took over first place. She continued to build her lead as the laps began to dwindle. Heading into the final lap, Harris had roughly a four-meter lead on Elinor Purrier, who held the fastest mile time in the country heading into the meet. Harris kept her lead over the final lap and crossed the finish line first with a time of 4:38.81 to advance to tomorrow’s final.
With Harris advancing to the final, it shifted freshman Annasophia Keller into the mile leg of the distance medley relay. Keller was coming off a strong performance at the ACC Championships where she qualified with Harris for the final in the mile. Facing a very strong field, the women’s DMR of Kelly Hart, Jordan Shead, Samantha Murray and Keller earned second team All-American honors aftering finishing 12th to close out the first night of competition.
Harris will be back on the track tomorrow night for day two of the NCAA Championships. She will run in the final of the mile, which is slated to begin at 5:20 pm ET. Tomorrow’s action will be streamed live on WatchESPN.
Matt Paras, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since January 2018. In his role, he coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse and cross country/track & field programs. A native of Warwick, Rhode Island, Paras is a graduate of the University of Louisville where he completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sport Administration. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, he worked at Vanderbilt University as the sports information contact for the women’s soccer and lacrosse programs.