Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

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

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42 FEBRUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED ND SPORTS BY TODD D. BURLAGE A s a third-generation Notre Dame legacy, coming to study at Our Lady's University was almost a rite of passage for current junior Rachel Tanczos. Becoming one of the best track and field athletes in the school's history … not so much. Tanczos, whose grandfather and both parents graduated from Notre Dame — her father, Daniel Tanczos, played football for the Fighting Irish in the mid-1980s — almost surprised herself last month after earning At- lantic Coast Conference Field Per- former of the Week honors Dec. 11 af- ter shattering her own school record in the weight throw. In the first meet of the 2019-20 Notre Dame indoor track and field season, Tanczos' throw of 22.10 me- ters traveled more than a meter far- ther than her previous school-record toss of 21.08 she made at last season's ACC Championships. As of Dec. 31, Tanczos' mark stood as the second-best weight throw in the country so far this season and would have been good enough to earn her a place in the NCAA Cham- pionships last year. "Yeah, that's starting the season out on a pretty high note," said Tanc- zos, a double major in psychology and theology. The path for Tanczos to Notre Dame track and field history is equally interesting as it was unlikely. She didn't even start throwing com- petitively until her junior year at Bethlehem High School near Allen- town, Pa. "As a junior, I was decent when I started. I went to state in discus," said Tanczos, who never even con- sidered collegiate completion until shortly before her high school grad- uation. "But I really wasn't good enough to go anywhere for it, so that wasn't on my mind. I just always wanted to go to Notre Dame for the academics." But rapid improvement as a high school senior inspired Tanczos to treat her sport less as a pastime and more as an opportunity. "I reached out to the Notre Dame coaches here, and I was offered a spot," she said. "Sometimes it's still surprising to me the progress I have made from being a walk-on, kind of like testing out if there was going to be a place for me on the team, to where I'm at now." Also surprising to Tanczos is that her school-record throw came in the opening indoor meet, which suggests that her current record will likely fall multiple times the rest of this track and field season, and when she's a senior next year. "That was pretty exciting to get a big throw like that out of the way in the first meet," said Tanczos, who upon graduation wants to work in sports psychology. "It makes me re- ally excited for what else is going to come this season." All this after so much already came last season for Tanczos, who stuffed her trophy case as an Irish sophomore in 2019, earning All-ACC honors in the indoor weight throw, as well as the outdoor shot put and hammer throw. "This has all been very exciting," Tanczos said. "I never expected to be where I have ended up on our team." After a couple of weeks at home for winter break, Tanczos and the Irish return to indoor competition Jan. 17 with the Bill Clinger Invitational at Grand Valley State University, and she is savoring every moment of it. "My time here has been incred- ible, everything I thought it would be and more," she said. "The people I have met inside and outside of track, all the opportunities I have had, it's been great." ✦ Former Irish Walk-On Is Breaking School Records Junior Rachel Tanczos' weight throw toss of 22.10 meters at Notre Dame's season-opening indoor meet in early December broke her own school record and ranked second in the nation as of Dec. 31. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA

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