Notre Dame's Anna Rohrer qualifies for World Juniors

Tim Creason
Tribune Correspondent

Anna Rohrer won’t be running at the Olympics this year.

But where the sport of track & field is concerned, she’s doing the next best thing.

The Mishawaka native and Notre Dame sophomore-to-be has earned a spot on Team USA for the World Junior Track & Field Championships, scheduled July 19-24 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Rohrer will compete in the women’s 5,000-meter run, the race in which she finished second at the U.S. Junior championships late Friday night.

In a hotly contested race, Rohrer was outkicked down the homestretch by Fiona O’Keeffe, a recently graduated high school runner from Davis, Calif.

O’Keeffe overcame a 20-meter deficit with one lap to go, passing Rohrer as the two runners came off the final turn. O'Keefe finished in 15:56.84, a meet record.

Rohrer, who was running her first race since March, finished in 15:57.92.

Nobody else was close. Third place finisher Bella Burda, from Villanova University, clocked 16:43.59.

The U.S. juniors are open to any athlete age 19-and-under. At the USATF junior championships, it is not unusual to see some of the nation’s best high school runners line up against some of the best college freshman.

The top two finishers in each event qualify for the IAAF world championship meet, which takes place about two weeks before the start of the Rio Olympics.

O'Keefe clocked the sixth-fastest high school 5K time in history to nip Rohrer during Friday’s race at Clovis, Calif. Rohrer had taken control of the race midway through, and was steadily pulling away from the 17-runner field. Only O’Keefe remained close.

With a lap to go, Rohrer surged to a four-second lead, and appeared to have the race well in hand. But over the final 300 meters, O’Keeffe unleashed a tremendous kick and caught Rohrer on the final turn.

In fairness, Rohrer had not competed since finishing fourth in the 5,000 at the NCAA Indoor Track Championships in March. She sat out the collegiate outdoor track season and didn’t train seriously for a couple months.

“Anna was feeling pretty rundown after the indoor season and had some academics (classes) she wanted to take care of, so she backed off for a while,” Notre Dame associate coach Matt Sparks said. “She hasn’t been doing a whole lot of training, and that’s by design.”

O’Keeffe, by the way, will be running for Stanford University this fall. She will be Rohrer’s teammate on Team USA, then the pair are certain to see each other again in future NCAA battles.


At Clovis, Calif.


1, Fiona O’Keeffe (Davis, Calif.) 15:56.84. 2, Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame) 15:57.92. 3, Bella Burda (Villanova) 16:43.59. 4, Emma Bender (Forest Lake, Minn.) 16:45.03. 5, Erin Dietz (Bedford, Mass.) 16:51.91. 6, Alyssa Snyder (Montana St.) 17:05.12. 7, Amy Davis (Wisconsin) 17:14.76. 8, Jacqueline Garner (UCLA) 17:28.69. 9, Cara Sherman (University of Albany-New York) 17:40.71. 10, Ericka Rendazzo (Stamford, Conn.) 17:41.76.

Notre Dame sophomore-to-be Anna Rohrer, here running with teammate Molly Seidel last winter, qualified Friday night for the World Junior Track & Field Championships with a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter run at the U.S. meet. (Tribune File Photo/TIM CREASON)