Oct. 26, 2017
By Megan Golden
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The University of Notre Dame will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Championships for the fifth time in program history, turning to its youth to bring home a conference title. The Irish men's and women's squads will rely on relatively youthful lineups to accomplish a lofty task on Friday at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park.
For the men's team, competing on Louisville's home course may be an advantage following this season's Pre-Nationals, where the Irish came in second of the ACC finishers and placed in 15th overall as a team. The women, meanwhile, will race at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park for the first time this season.
The return of senior co-captain Kevin Pulliam and the emergence of freshman Yared Nuguse have helped the Irish improve drastically since last year's ACC Championships. Pulliam returned from injury and recorded a personal record of 24:14.8 at Pre-Nationals on Oct. 14. Nuguse ran to a second-place finish (25:00.8) at the National Catholic Invitational on Sept. 15.
"Our men's team has momentum coming off of our last competition, and we are excited to keep that rolling in to the ACC meet," Irish assistant coach Sean Carlson said. "We have done a really good job of keeping a close 1-5 split, and a key to the ACC meet for us is keeping a close 1-7 split. We won't have a low stick but we will have a really solid pack that will help us get done what we need to this weekend."
The women's team has utilized four regular-season meets as opportunities for its young athletes to gain experience and build endurance for the postseason.
The ACC Championship will be the first test for freshman Anna Sophia Keller, who has won 11 high school state championships in Illinois and will try to win her first conference meet in an Irish uniform.
Despite racing without two of Notre Dame's top three finishers from last year's squad -- Anna Rohrer and Danielle Aragon -- the depth of the Irish will allow them to compete with any team in the conference.
"The women should be in a very tightly contested battle," Sparks said. "We have already competed against most of the ACC throughout the regular season, so we are familiar with our opponents. If we are to be successful, everyone needs to take care of their responsibilities."
WHAT: ACC Championships
WHERE: E.P. Tom Sawyer Park (Louisville, Kentucky)
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 27, 2017
MEN'S RACE: 10:03 a.m. ET
WOMEN'S RACE: 11:03 a.m. ET
WOMEN'S LIVE STREAM: Click here.
MEN'S LIVE STREAM: Click here.
LIVE RESULTS: Click here.
Conference Championship History
Notre Dame owns 21 team conference championships in program history, including 15 on the men's side and six on the women's side. Seven men have won individual titles, while five women have been crowned conference champion.
Notre Dame's most recent cross country conference championship came in 2005, when the men's and women's teams both won the BIG EAST Conference Championship.
Last season, the Irish women placed second as a team behind then-sophomore Anna Rohrer's individual conference championship. Rohrer recorded a mark of 19:26.4, winning her first of four ACC titles last year. Notre Dame finished with 74 points, trailing only NC State (53 points).
Annie Heffernan (20:05.0) ran to sixth place, and Danielle Aragon (20:19.4) placed ninth, rounding out Notre Dame's top three finishers.
The men's team finished 10th in the ACC with then-sophomore Anthony Williams racing to 28th place and a time of 24:02.1.
Anna Sophia Keller
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.