Notre Dame's Rohrer 2nd in first indoor race

Tim Creason
Tribune Correspondent

NOTRE DAME — For six laps, they circled the Loftus Sports Center track together, master and protégé, the face of Notre Dame distance running now, side-by-side with the face of its future.

But though it easily could have been, this women’s 3,000-meter race wasn’t about Irish senior Molly Seidel, the two-time NCAA champion.

This race was for Anna Rohrer.

A little over a mile into the race, one of the feature events at Saturday’s Notre Dame Invitational, Seidel stepped off the track — intentionally, as planned — after guiding the 22-runner field smartly through four consecutive 74-second 400-meter splits.

Now, it was time for Rohrer, the former Mishawaka High School standout, to see what she could do in her first collegiate indoor race.

“I’ve never run with a rabbit before,” said Rohrer, who assumed the lead with three laps remaining, and Michigan State’s Alexis Wiersma nipping at her heels.

For two laps, Rohrer surged, Wiersma responded, and then the Spartan leader eased to the front with 500 meters to go.

From that point, it was all about leg speed. Wiersma had more, steadily pulling away for a blistering 9:14.62 victory.

Rohrer finished second in 9:17.87.

Can’t say exactly where those times rank, but they are certain to stand among the best in the nation when all the weekend’s college results are sorted out.

“Of course, I always want to win, but it’s hard to be disappointed because I ran a good time,” said Rohrer afterwards. “I tried to keep my eyes on (Wiersma), tried to close the gap, but I don’t know, she was fast.”

A large contingent of Michiana track fans made the women’s 3,000 the loudest contest of the meet, by far, with most of the cheers directed at Rohrer.

“Oh yeah, I could hear everybody,” laughed Rohrer.

Otherwise, Notre Dame fans as a whole didn’t have much to cheer about. The Irish finished fourth out of six teams in the women’s meet, fourth out of five in the men’s.

There were some definite bright spots. Irish junior Nate Richartz cleared 17 feet, 5 inches in the men’s pole vault, a personal best. Jordan Shead set an Irish school record in the 600-meter run, 1:31.29, though she finished third in the race.

In the women’s 400-meter dash, senior Margaret Bamgbose finished first with a swift 53.82. Bamgbose hopes to compete for Nigeria in the Olympics this summer.

Irish head coach Alan Turner freely admitted the Irish must show a lot of improvement if they hope to compete in the ACC this season.

“We didn’t answer the bell today,” said Turner. “Each meet is getting harder. The level of competition today stepped up from the first two meets, but not enough of the kids stepped it up.”

Michigan won both men’s and women’s titles.

“Michigan came out here with a 1-2 punch and just kept it going,” said Turner.

In the women’s mile run — an event where Notre Dame hoped to do well — Michigan swept the top five places, led by Erin Finn’s 4:40.38.

Former Riley High School standout Ayiana Gaines, now a sophomore at Western Michigan University, clocked 56.06 to finish third in the 400-meter dash. She also led off Western’s third-place 4 x 400-meter relay. And, to cap off the day, she won the women's triple jump with a leap of 38 feet, 2 inches.

By herself, Gaines scored over half of Western Michigan's points.

NOTRE DAME INVITATIONAL

At The Loftus Center

WOMEN

Team scores: Michigan 144, Louisville 111, Michigan State 82, Notre Dame 68, Western Michigan 31, DePaul 29.

Event winners

60-meter dash – 1, Cindy Ofili (Michigan) 7.42 … 3, Kaila Barber (ND) 7.56.

60-meter hurdles – Cindy Ofili (Michigan) 8.04.

200-meter dash – 1, Cindy Ofili (Michigan) 24.25 … 5, Kyla Lewis (ND) 24.89.

400-meter dash – 1, Margaret Bamgbose (ND) 53.82 … 3, Ayiana Gaines (Western Michigan) 56.06.

600-meter run – 1, Jaimie Phelan (Michigan) … 3, Jordan Shead (ND) 1:31.29 (SCHOOL RECORD).

800-meter run – 1, Devon Hoppe (Michigan) 2:09.73 … 4, Jamie Marvil (ND) 2:12.93.

One-mile run – 1, Erin Finn (Michigan) 4:40.38 … 11, Danielle Aragon (ND) 4:55.27.

3,000-meter run – 1, Alexis Wiersma (Michigan St) 9:14.62 … 2, Anna Rohrer (ND) 9:17.87.

4 x 400-meter relay – 1, Notre Dame (Parker English, Payton Miller, Jordan Shead, Margaret Bamgbose) 3:40.95.

High jump – 1, Ellen DiPietro (Michigan St) 5-11.

Long jump – 1, Bre’Yana Wash (Louisville) 20-1 … 9, Emily Carson (ND) 17-11

Shot put – 1, Emmonnie Henderson (Louisville) 55-1 … 5, Indi Jackson (ND) 45-2.

Weight Throw – 1, Cynthia Watt (Michigan St) 64-8 … 4, Lena Madison (ND) 58-3.

Triple jump – 1, Aiyana Gaines (Western Michigan) 38-2 … 3, Taylor Craft (ND) 37-5.

Pole vault – 1, Chanel Krause (Louisville) 13-4 … 9, Kara Snyder (ND) 11-6.

MEN

Team scores: Michigan 130, Louisville 122-1/2, Michigan State 96, Notre Dame 69-1/2, DePaul 38.

MEN

Team scores: Michigan 130, Louisville 122-1/2, Michigan State 96, Notre Dame 69-1/2, DePaul 38.

Event winners

60-meter dash – 1, Chris Maye (Michigan) 6.84.

60-meter hurdles – 1, Will Agodu (Michigan St) 8.16 … 4, Brent Swanberg (ND) 8.50.

200-meter dash – 1, Harvey Smith (ND) 21.71.

400-meter dash – 1, Taylor McLaughlin (Michigan) 47.44 … 3, Harvey Smith (ND) 47.85.

600-meter run – 1, Nathaniel Chapman (Michigan) 1:18.27.

800-meter run – 1, Justine Kiprotich (Michigan St) 1:51.54 … 4, Kirk Hansen (ND) 1:53.09.

One-mile run – 1, Edwin Kibichiy (Louisville) 4:07.40 … 15, John Flannery (ND) 4:19.42.

3,000-meter run – 1, Mason Ferlic (Michigan) 8:05.82 … 8, Jacob Dumford (ND) 8:14.41.

4 x 400-meter relay – 1, Notre Dame (Drake Stimson, Harvey Smith, Patrick O’Connell, Alex Groesch) 3:13.41.

High jump – 1, Damar Robinson (Louisville) 7-1 ... 4, Matthew Birzer (ND) 6-8 ¾.

Long jump – 1, Oliver Newport (Louisville) 23-9 3/4 … 9, Brent Swanberg (ND) 21-1.

Shot put – 1, Steve Wade (Louisville) 60-5 … 7, Daniel Hardiman (ND) 47-2 ¼.

Weight Throw – 1, Vinny Gjokaj (Michigan St) 70-11 1/2 … 5, Anthony Shivers (ND) 63-10 ½.

Triple jump – 1, Brian Mada (DePaul) 49-0 ¼.

Pole vault – 1, Nate Richartz (ND) 17-5.