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ND Track and Field: Irish declare first meet a success

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, December 6, 2005

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams got their first taste of competition this season at the Blue/Gold Invitational Friday in the Loftus Sports Center. And despite a limited amount of athletes on competing opposition, the Irish were finally able to put their off-season training to a much desired test.

“I would say our expectations were met,” assistant coach John Millar said. “Everybody was pleased with how our athletes responded to their first competition, and we left the meet feeling pretty happy about where we are this year.”

The meet was a success because several members of both the men’s and women’s teams qualified for the Big East Championship meet. In addition, freshman pole vaulter Mary Saxer took full advantage of her first collegiate competition and qualified for the NCAA Regional meet at the University of Tennessee in late May.

“I’m pretty happy with how it went,” Saxer said. “It wasn’t my best jump, but being my first college meet, and looking at where I am at this point in the season, I’m pleased.”

Members of the Notre Dame men’s and women’s teams finished first in nearly every event. Several athletes – senior Meghan Horn in the shot put and weight throw; freshman Alyissa Hasan in the 60-meter hurdles and long jump; senior Ryan Postel in the 400-meter dash and 200-meter dash – finished first in multiple events.

But despite the successful finishes and early qualifiers, coaches and players were quick to put this early success in perspective.

“I was pretty happy with how things went and I’m glad to qualify,” junior pole vaulter Dave Viken said. “We’ve been working pretty hard all fall, and this meet gives us a chance to see where we’re at establish a starting point for the rest of the year.”

Millar said the team now knows what it has to work on.

“We certainly have a ways to go considering all that we have ahead of us, but we have an idea where we are now and where we’re going to end up,” Millar said. “We have a better idea of what they need to do over the holidays to improve.”

With three weeks away from school and official practices, the team can now use the results from this meet to assess what their abilities are and work to improve for the next event in January.

The Purdue Open is set for Jan. 14, the first weekend the Irish will be back from winter break.

Though the athletes were able finally test their abilities in a competitive environment, they now will have to take the extra initiative and prepare on their own for the next several weeks.

“Everyone was feeling good, our coach said we did really well, but we’ll have to train hard over winter break because we’re coming right back into the season that first week,” Saxer said. “All in all, everyone has a good attitude going into the season.”

Notes:

Senior distance runner Stephanie Madia was selected as one of four finalists for the Honda Sports Award in cross country, which honors the nation’s top cross country runner.

Madia, who is a part of both the cross country team and track and field team, finished sixth or higher in all five races in which she participated. She capped off the cross country season by coming in third at the NCAA championships.

“I’m really honored, and I know that there are a lot of athletes considered for this award,” Madia said. “I really just consider myself fortunate to be among the best in the country. I’ve really matured in this program and I consider myself as so blessed to have made the right decision athletically and academically. It’s nice to see the hard work I’ve put in pay off.”