Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

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

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50 NOV. 14, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED ND SPORTS BY TODD D. BURLAGE W ith a third-place finish in the 2018 ACC Cross Country Cham- pionships as a sophomore, followed by a runner-up showing as a junior in 2019, Irish senior Yared Nuguse said that anything short of an individual title last month in the 2020 confer- ence meet would be a disappoint- ment. And he stuck it. Clearing the 8,000-meter course in Cary, N.C., in a time of 23:03.06, Nu- guse claimed individual honors and also led Notre Dame to its second ACC team title in the last three years. Nuguse's time was the second fastest by an ACC champion since 1968. "I came into the race very confi- dent and relaxed," said Nuguse, who joined Anna Rohrer (2016) and Molly Seidel (2015) on the list of individual Irish ACC race champions. "Coming so close the last two years, I figured this was my time to finally win it. I'm really proud of all the guys." To further illustrate the improve- ment and momentum of the Irish men's cross country team after this conference title run, Notre Dame competed on the same course for the same event in 2016 and finished only 10th out of 15 ACC teams. This year, it scored all five run- ners in the top 20 and tallied only 40 points on the way to a 14-point blowout over second-place NC State. Nuguse said that working through a disjointed preseason and having limited in-season competition oppor- tunities because of the coronavirus pandemic made winning the team title even more satisfying. "It proved that we're just as fit as we thought we were, maybe even more fit," Nuguse said. "There were a lot of young guys who stepped up in that race that helped us prove that we have a lot of depth through our entire team, and that is so important." With an ACC title in hand, the Notre Dame runners will turn their at- tention to the NCAA Championships, a meet that was moved from Novem- ber 2020 to March 2021, because of the pandemic. It's a race the No. 4 Irish believe they have a shot at winning. "This is certainly the best team we have ever had because we have that level of cushion or insurance, a talent buffer," Irish men's head cross country coach Sean Carlson explained. "It puts me in a pretty confident position that I'm able to say we'll be fine in March." Nuguse — who claimed the 1,500-meter title in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Champion- ships — became the first Irish men's runner in nine years as an ACC member to win an individual confer- ence championship. So while Nuguse grabbed the title and the headlines, overall depth is what secured the team win after five Irish runners finished in the top 18 to earn All-ACC recognition — the top 21 finishers at the conference meet earn that honor. Junior Dylan Jacobs finished third for Notre Dame, fol- lowed by junior Danny Kilrea in sev- enth, freshman Josh Methner in 11th and sophomore Jake Renfree in 18th. Methner 's time of 23:30.1 was the fastest of any rookie in the race, bringing him ACC Freshman Runner of the Year honors. In all, each of Notre Dame's eight runners finished in the top 30. "Despite a unique fall, our guys were able to come together and take another step for our program," Carl- son said. ✦ The Fighting Irish won their second ACC championship in three years, with senior Yared Nuguse (holding the trophy) producing the second-fastest time (23:03.06) for an ACC champion since 1968. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Men's Cross Country Claims ACC Title With Dominant Effort Irish Roundup WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY The Fighting Irish posted a fifth-place team finish at the ACC Championships Oct. 30 in Cary, N.C. … Senior Erin Archibeck finished 12th to help Notre Dame achieve its sixth top- five showing in the last seven years. MEN'S SOCCER (3-3 OVERALL, 2-2 ACC) Notre Dame suffered a 1-0 home loss to Virginia Tech Nov. 2 … The Irish complete their regular-season schedule by hosting Louisville Nov. 6. WOMEN'S SOCCER (4-4 OVERALL, 4-4 ACC) The No. 14-ranked Fighting Irish suffered a 2-0 defeat at No. 1 North Carolina Nov. 1 … Notre Dame earned the No. 8 seed in the ACC Tournament and will face off with No. 1 seed Florida State in the quarterfinals Nov. 10 in Cary, N.C. — Steve Downey

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