NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Irish hosted the annual Notre Dame Invitational on Saturday, January 19. As the snow fell soundly on Notre Dame’s campus, both teams heated up in Loftus Sports Center as the men tied for first and the women claimed a second-place team finish. The men, following a comeback finish by Logan Kusky in the men’s weight throw, tied Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Louisville, with 126 points for first place. The women earned 121 points in the meet for second overall, bested only by Louisville.
“This was our first chance to compete against an ACC team in Louisville,” head coach Matt Sparks said. “Finishing a close second on both sides gives the teams some fire as we continue to push towards the postseason.”
The Irish finished among the top-five a combined 36 times, including six first place finishes and three clean sweeps. The distance team accounted for a team best four of the top times of the day and all three sweeps (men’s mile, men’s 3000m, women’s 3000m).
“The Notre Dame Invitational is one of the highlights of our indoor season. It is always exciting to compete at home but to do so in a small, competitive scored meet really helps bring the team together,” he concluded.
Arguably the strongest showing of the day came in the 3000m event when the women claimed six of the top seven times. The women’s event went first, where the mob of blue and gold towards the front was hard to miss. Rachel DaDamio led the group through the first half of the race before succeeding the lead to newcomer, Jackie Gaughan. Gaughan would lead the women the rest of the way, finishing with a time of 9:32.70. She was followed close behind by Maddy Denner who made her home debut for the team after recently enrolling at Notre Dame. She finished the race in 9:35.48 while DaDamio crossed next in 9:38.16. An Illinois State runner broke up the Irish party before Annie Heffernan (9:45.08), Jocelyn Long (9:48.72) and Sydney Foreman (9:51.11) could round out the top-seven.
Not to be outdone by the women’s performance, the men’s 3000m featured six more Irish in the top-seven spots. Kevin Salvano led the charge, crossing the line just ahead of Amani Morrell who claimed second. Approximately half of a second separated first through third as Salvano (8:16.43), Morrell (8:16.77) and Zach Kreft (8:17.05) captured the sweep. Brendan Fraser finished fourth in the race, crossing the line in 8:17.93 before Bradley Wattleworth (8:21.66) and Kevin Pulliam (8:22.46) took sixth and seventh, respectively.
In The Field
In the women’s weight throw, Abbey Kapitan and Rachel Tanczos advanced to the finals where they posted second and third place finishes. Kapitan, who claimed silver, threw for 19.50m while Tanczos tossed the weight 19.48m for third. On the men’s side, Logan Kusky finished second overall with a mark of 19.65m, clinching two extra points to claim the team’s overall tie with Louisville. Elsewhere in throws, John Stefan posted a shot put distance of 16.22m to round out the top-five.
Newcomer to the team, Colton Crum continued his success on the pole vault, taking second overall when he cleared 5.05 meters. Connor Artman took bronze in the long jump, lunging 7.10m through the air for third place. Following Artman’s finish on the runway, Osy Ekwueme took to it for the triple jump where he placed fourth overall with a jump of 13.75m.
After qualifying for the 60m hurdles through the preliminary races, Jernaya Sharp earned the top time in the finals when she posted a time of 8.47. Grace Cronin also qualified for a spot in the finals event where she took third overall, crushing the final hurdle as she ran to an 8.66 second finish.
With the hurdles out of the way, Zachary Zajdel took third in the men’s 60m dash, finishing with a final time of 6.94. He and Madysen Hunter went on to later finish fourth in both the men’s and women’s 200m dash events to boast another two top-five finishes for the Irish. Hunter crossed the finish line of the women’s race in 25.52 while Zajdel completed the men’s event in 22.17.
Edward Cheatham also notched a top-five individual finish for the Irish sprinters in the 400m dash when he sprinted for a time of 48.92 and fifth overall.
Rounding out the day, both 4x400m relays finished in the top-five. The women’s A relay, comprised of Grace Cronin, Madysen Hunter, Summer Thorpe and Jernaya Sharp posted a final time of 3:48.68 and a second place finish. The men’s top squad, which featured Edward Cheatham, Zachary Zajdel, Sam Voelz and Luis Cossio, completed the race in 3:20.89 for fifth overall.
The Irish will compete at the Indiana Relays next weekend (January 25-26) before they return home to Loftus Sports Center for the Meyo Invitational.