Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 48 of 55 SEPT. 17, 2018 49 ND SPORTS BY TODD D. BURLAGE R elief, anticipation, nervousness, excitement — Notre Dame dis- tance ace Anna Rohrer is juggling a wide range of emotions as she read- ies for her return to the Irish cross country team for the first time in al- most two years. Lingering injuries to her back and hamstring robbed one of the nation's best distance runners of a sport that she has dominated all the way back to her grade school days. "It was incredibly frustrating," said Rohrer, a Notre Dame junior who is back practicing with the Irish cross country team but had yet to compete in a meet as of Sept. 7. "Mostly be- cause I was doing everything I was supposed to do in order to get better, but it just wasn't really working." For almost all of the past year, Rohrer was left to wonder and worry why injuries weren't healing at the pace her doctors expected them to. Some days would bring moder- ate improvement, the next would bring another setback. Days, weeks, months passed with one of the most fit and trained student-athletes un- able to do anything but wait alone with her thoughts and watch as her teammates competed. "There was just a missing piece that took a lot longer to figure out than I would've preferred," said Rohrer, who came to Notre Dame from nearby Mishawaka High School as the most decorated high school distance runner in the country. Rohrer's prep career included state records and national championships, but —unfortunately — a history of injuries as well. Rohrer won her first high school national cross country title in 2012 as a sophomore then missed her en- tire junior year because of injury. She returned as a high school senior in 2014 and brought home another Foot Locker national title. Her college career has almost mir- rored her high school days both in terms of successes and injuries. Rohrer finished second at the ACC Championships and was tabbed as the ACC Cross Country Freshman of the Year in 2015. She also finished in sixth place at the NCAA Champi- onships in 2015 and third in 2016 to earn All-America accolades. During the 2017 spring outdoor track and field season, Rohrer was the favorite to win the NCAA 10,000 meters, but a herniated disc injury she suffered a few weeks earlier dur- ing the ACC Championships slowed her time and relegated her to a disap- pointing 16th-place finish. Complications from her back prob- lems led to a hamstring injury that put Rohrer out of action for the next 11 months, forcing her to miss all of the 2017 cross country season last fall and the indoor track season after that. Even up until April of this year, Rohrer 's outdoor track season was also in jeopardy. Rohrer returned to a place she trusted and knew, St. Vincent's Sports Performance in Indianapolis, where she worked through her in- juries while in high school. There, it was discovered Rohrer 's hips were out of balance, which was aggravat- ing her back and hamstring. The ail- ment was a relatively easy fix — per- form a series of "correction stretches" every day to help even out her hips before her workouts. "It took only about a week or two to double or triple my mileage," Rohrer recalled. "I felt great." She returned to the outdoor track team in April — about a month after the season had started — and finished the season in late June, pain and in- jury free and with a sixth-place finish in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for a nice confidence boost during her recovery And now she's back with the Irish cross country team for the first time in about two years ready to claim an- other national title, but keeping her goals simple for the time being. "My biggest goal is to definitely stay healthy," Rohrer said. "But I also feel like I have a second drive be- cause I didn't get to run cross coun- try last year. I just miss it, and I'm really excited to race." ✦ Anna Rohrer's Return Is Bad News For The Competition Irish Roundup CROSS COUNTRY Both the men's and women's teams finished first overall at the Crusader Open Aug. 31 in Valparaiso, Ind. The men's team captured the top eight spots in the 6,000-meter race, while the No. 23 women filled four of the top five spots in the 5,000-meter race. Next up, the Irish will host the National Cath- olic Invitational Sept. 14. MEN'S SOCCER (2-0-1, 0-0-0 ACC) The No. 12 Irish posted a 3-0 victory over No. 18 Connecticut Aug. 31 and a 2-0 win over No. 22 Dartmouth Sept. 2 in Bloomington, Ind. No. 6 Indiana will come to South Bend Sept. 11, sandwiched between games at Syra- cuse Sept. 7 and at No. 10 Virginia Sept. 14. WOMEN'S SOCCER (4-2-0, 0-0-0) Notre Dame rallied to defeat Cincinnati 2-1 Aug. 30, but dropped a 1-0 decision to Ohio State Sept. 1. Getting back on track won't be easy for the Irish, because their next two matches are on the road versus No. 1 Stanford Sept. 7 and No. 12 Santa Clara Sept. 9. VOLLEYBALL (4-1, 0-0) The Irish posted their fourth straight 3-0 victory to start the season, defeating Oakland Aug. 30, but dropped their first match of the season 3-1 at No. 19 Purdue Sept. 2. Notre Dame will spend the weekend of Sept. 7 in Kentucky, playing in neutral site matchups against Western Kentucky, Chat- tanooga and Miami (Ohio). — David McKinney Rohrer earned ACC Cross Country Freshman of the Year honors in 2015 and notched a pair of top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships her first two seasons, but was sidelined by hamstring and back injuries in 2017. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH DIGITAL MEDIA

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