By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The University of Notre Dame women’s cross country team (34 points) ran to the program’s 49th all-time victory at the National Catholic with a first-place finish on Friday. The men’s squad (44 points), featuring many new faces, placed second overall behind Dayton (41 points) in the 38th installation of the annual meet at Burke Golf Course.
For the second consecutive season, Annie Heffernan was the individual winner of the women’s varsity race with a time of 17:29.4. The junior was followed by freshman Anna Sophia Keller, who recorded a mark of 17:31.8 in just her second collegiate race. Rachel DaDamio (6th, 18:00.3), Kaitlin Frei (7th, 18:04.9) and Claudia Magnussen (18th, 18:25.5) also scored for Notre Dame.
On the men’s side, freshman Yared Nuguse placed second overall, recording a time of 25:00.8. Nuguse was followed by Kevin Pulliam (5th, 23:23.3) and Bradley Wattleworth (8th, 25:28.1) to round out the top three. Notre Dame's Vincent Zona (12th, 25:38.6) and Tyler Keslin (17th, 25:56.9) also contributed to the men's score.
In the JV race, Emily Franz (4th, 18:54) led the way for the Irish women’s squad, followed by Kelly Hart (5th, 19:06.0) and Samantha Murray (6th, 19:06.1). Brooke Trossen (10th, 19:40.6) and Alexis Daugherty (13th, 19:47.3) rounded out the top five Notre Dame finishers.
John Flannery came in fifth place (26:59.8) for Notre Dame in the men’s JV 8K race.
Irish Associate Head Coach Matt Sparks Said…
On the women’s overall team finish…
“It was really exciting to see Anna Sophia Keller in her first competitive event step up and run right with our leader, Annie [Heffernan]. Annie, the defending champion in this meet, does what she always does here. We’re excited to see her back to where she’s been in the past. We need to work on the three, four and five and making jumps. Kaitlin Frei is significantly better than she was a year ago. Rachel DaDamio is someone whom we know can run with them [also].”
On Annie Heffernan’s performance and her role this season…
“She’s becoming more of a leader, she’s being more outspoken. When she first got here, she was quiet. She’s finally finding her voice as a junior now, and with that, her confidence has grown. She just missed out on being an All-American a year ago, and she’s got a little chip on her shoulder this year.”
On the team’s next steps heading into the Joe Piane Invitational…
“Our front two are where they need to be. We need to work on our depth. Our three, four and five runners need to make some big steps. We’ve got the players there; they just need the game face, the confidence.”
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame returns to action at the Joe Piane Invitational at 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 29. The Irish will compete against their toughest field of the season at Burke Golf Course.
Admission to all Notre Dame home cross country meets is free and open to the public. For a course map, click here.
For behind-the-scenes coverage of the Irish cross country program, follow @NDXCTF on Twitter and @NDXCTF on Instagram.
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 soccer 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.