May 24, 2018
By Matt Paras
TAMPA, Fla. – On a hot and steamy Thursday in Tampa, the Notre Dame track and field team began the quest to earn its 27th straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Once the day concluded with the women’s 10000m, the Irish had three athletes earned their spot at NCAA’s to continue the streak. Annie Heffernan, Nate Richartz, and Anna Rohrer were the three Irish to qualify on the first day of the east preliminary round.
Richartz entered the day with the third best vault of the preliminary qualifiers when he cleared 5.70m (18-8.50) at the ACC Championship. He got a pass through 5.15m so his first height of the afternoon was 5.25m. He cleared that on his first attempt and then secured his ticket to Eugene when he cleared 5.35m on the second attempt. This will be Richartz’s third trip to nationals and he finished ninth last year to earn second team All-American honors.
Following a lightning delay that pushed back the start of the 10000m, Rohrer and Heffernan hit the track for the final event at 10:25 p.m. ET. The pair quickly got out front and were first and second for over half of the race. As the race got to the later portion, Rohrer started to pull ahead with Louisville’s Dorcas Wasike right behind her. Heffernan stayed steady up front, running between 6-8. Rohrer ended up second overall (33:54.15) as she crossed the finish line to secure her second straight trip to Eugene. Heffernan had to push in the final lap but she finished as the final qualifier in 12th (34:23.92) and claimed her first career trip to NCAA’s. The pair secured the 25th consecutive appearance for the Irish women at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Irish advanced a pair of runners to Saturday’s quarterfinal in the 1500m. Yared Nuguse ran in the first of four heats and was near the front of the pack for a majority of the race. He had a late push and finished fourth (3:45.76) to secure an automatic qualifier to the quarterfinal. Jacob Dumford ran in the final heat (3:48.48) and fell just two spots out of the quarterfinal.
On the women’s side, Jessica Harris entered the meet looking to qualify for nationals for the second straight season. She jumped out in front in the first of six 1500m heats and held the lead for the entire race until the finish line. Harris was edged out by .01 but finished second with a time of 4:17.21. Her time was the fourth-fastest in the first round and she advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal.
Jordan Shead secured her spot in Friday’s final of the 400m after a strong race in the second of six heats. Running against some of the best runners in the field, Shead was right up with the leaders as they came down the home stretch. She finished fifth with a personal record of 52.96 and qualified based on time once the six heats had concluded.
Kelly Hart kept up with her teammates by advancing to the 800m quarterfinal in the final of six heats. Heading into the race, the final qualifying time was 2:07.10 so Hart knew what she had to get to move on. After the first lap, she was boxed in towards the back but she made her move in the final 200m. She lunged across the finished line and the scoreboard read 2:07.00 for her time and was the final time qualifier for Friday’s quarterfinal.
In the women’s shot put, the Irish had a trio of athletes in the first two flights. Indi Jackson led the group with a season-best 15.92m (52-2.75). Abbey Kapitan was not far behind as she finished 22nd with a season best of 15.75m (51-8.25). Freshman Rachel Tanczos rounded out the group in 39th (14.77m, 48-5.50) but she isn’t done in Tampa. Tanczos will still compete in the discus on Friday afternoon.
Logan Kusky got the Irish underway in the first flight of the hammer throw early Thursday morning. In his final attempt, his toss traveled 61.35m (201-3) and was the top mark from the opening flight. After all three flights concluded, Kusky finished 27th overall in his first career east preliminary meet.
The Irish will be back in action bright and early tomorrow when Shae Watkins takes part in the discus throw at 8:45 a.m. The first track event for the Irish will begin at 12:15 p.m. when Summer Thorpe runs in the first round of the 100m hurdles. The meet schedule has been updated once again due to impending inclement weather. An updated schedule for Friday’s and Saturday's events is included above.