Irish men halt Syracuse dominance; Wolfpack women make it three straight
Virginia Tech’s Seufer, Louisville’s Wasike claim individual gold medals
JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. (theACC.com) – For the first time in five years, the Atlantic Coast Conference has a new men’s cross country champion.
Notre Dame placed three runners among the top 10 on Friday and edged five-time defending champion Syracuse by four points on a clear but chilly race morning at historic Franklin Park.
Sophomore Yared Nuguse’s bronze medal time of 23:48.8 led the Fighting Irish, who were also buoyed by a sixth-place finish from junior Anthony Williams and a 10th-place showing by freshman Danny Kilrea. Notre Dame finished with 57 team points to Syracuse’s 61, and NC State was third with 85.
Notre Dame just missed a team sweep. The Wolfpack women finished with 67 team points in the team scoring – a mere one point ahead of the Irish. Syracuse took third place with 83 points. The team championship is the third straight and an ACC-leading 24th overall for the NC State women.
Virginia Tech junior Peter Seufer, a two-time ACC Performer of the Week during the regular season and a two-time track and field gold medalist in the 10,000 meters, claimed his first ACC men’s cross country championship with an 8k time of 23:30.9. Seufer bested ACC Freshman of the Year Zach Facioni of Wake Forest in a thrilling photo finish. Facioni crossed the line in 23:31.4.
On the women’s side, Louisville junior Dorcas Wasike closed strong to snare the gold medal with a 6k time of 20:08.1. Wasike, last year’s runner-up, pulled ahead of NC State junior Elly Henes (20:16.3) and Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer (20:19.2). Those second- and third-place finishes proved crucial in the final team scoring, with the Wolfpack edging the Fighting Irish by a single point.
The Notre Dame men had been surging for the past month and entered Friday’s race ranked 15th nationally, just behind No. 10 Syracuse and No. 14 Virginia. But with Syracuse having claimed every ACC Men’s Cross Country Championship since joining the conference in 2013, Irish first-year head coach Matt Sparks knew nothing would come easy.
“We knew that would be a difficult thing to overcome,” Sparks said of the Orange’s five-year stronghold. “Everyone is a bit overwhelmed right now. “But Notre Dame has always had a little bit of a connection with Boston, so it is only fitting that we get our first ACC championship here.”
Sparks credited Sean Carlson, the Irish’s eighth-year distance-running coach, with being a difference- maker.
“There’s just been a huge culture shift in our program, thanks to Coach Carlson,” Sparks said. “Just our guys having the belief and the confidence after all the hard work he has put in the last few years is what got them where that are today.”
N.C. State’s women’s conference championship is the program’s fourth under the watch of head coach Laurie Henes, a former NC State All-American who ran on four championship teams and was the ACC women’s gold medalist in 1991.
In addition to Elly Henes’ second-place finish, the Wolfpack was bolstered by an eighth-place finish from sophomore Dominique Clairmonte and a 10th-place showing by sophomore Nell Crosby. Nevada Moreno took 22nd place and Savannah Shaw 25t
“We didn’t quite have the firepower up front this year as last year,” Laurie Henes said. “We hope to get some of those people back next year, but we just had some really bad luck (with injuries) in the summer and preseason. I was really proud of Nevada Moreno and Savannah Shaw. This was their first ACC Championship, and they did a heck of a job hanging in there, in a position we didn’t intend to have to put them in this early.”
Virginia Tech’s Seufer admitted to being unusually nervous prior to Friday morning men’s race.
“I knew I had a chance, but in the ACC there are always five or six guys that on any given day can show up and push you can come out with a win,” he said. “It’s always going to be very competitive. But I’ve felt like I’ve been in a good place all season, and I felt like I had a good shot.”
After taking the silver medal in last year’s women’s championship race, Louisville’s Wasike was determined to leave nothing on the course Friday.
“I was determined to win this race, but it wasn’t easy,” she said. “Anna Rohrer is a great runner, and Elly Henes is, too. I know Henes, especially, is good a kicking (in the closing stretch). So I tried to move as far away from them as I could at the finish.”
The top 21 finishers in both the men’s and women’s field earned All-ACC honors. Wake Forest’s Facioni’s second-place finish made the math easy on the men’s side, and Notre Dame’s Jacqueline Gaughan led all women first-year runners with a seventh-place time of 20:38 – four seconds ahead of Virginia’s Abbey Green.
WOMEN’S TEAM SCORING
MEN’S TEAM SCORING