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Track and Field: Small squad makes big mark

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Notre Dame track and field team began its season at the Cal Poly Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif. this weekend. A small group comprised entirely of jumpers, throwers, and sprinters was sent to kick off the outdoor season with the distance runners slated to begin their outdoor season in two weeks at Stanford.

“We didn’t send the full team … and we were able to get a lot of qualifying marks out of the way,” Irish head coach Joe Piane said. “It was a good start.”

The Irish earned eight individual victories, posted 18 Big East qualifying marks for the conference championship and added two Mideast Regional qualifying marks.

Laura Huarte began her javelin career with a school record of 146 feet, 9 inches, smashing Kate Duman’s mark of 142 feet, 11 inches.

“I was excited, knowing I was having some good practices, to see how far I could throw,” Huarte said. “My goals were to earn the Mideast Regional qualifying bid and break the school record, and I’m happy I was able to do it.

“I knew what the record was going out there,” she said. “It took until my last throw to hit the mark, and when I got it, I was really excited and just turned to my family and gave them the fist pump.”

Huarte will switch events to the pole vault – her featured event – this weekend at Arizona. The javelin and pole vault were scheduled at the same time during last week’s meet and the upcoming week, so she will alternate events.

“We had a pretty decent indoor season in the pole vault, and I’m excited to go outside and jump underneath the sun,” Huarte said. “I know I can get to [the] NCAA [championship meet], and the other pole vaulters and I are setting higher expectations for ourselves.”

Junior Maryann Erigha earned first-place finishes in the 100- and 200- meter dashes, posting qualifying bids for the Big East Conference meet and the NCAA Mideast Regional.

“I thought the hundred was pretty good,” Erigha said. “I got the qualifying out of the way for that, and the 200 was good enough to open the season with.”

“I think everyone did really good,” Erigha said. “We all just went out there and did the best that we could and got a lot of qualifying marks.”

Other individual winners for the Irish at the Cal Poly Invitational were senior Ryan Postel in the 400-meter dash (47.51), junior Christopher Jacques in the long jump (22-11/6.99m – tied), junior Okechi Ogbuokiri (Willingboro, N.J./Willingboro) in the 400-meter dash (56.60), sophomore Austin Wechter in the 400-meter hurdles (a personal-best 54.12) and freshman Kate Mattoon in the pole vault (12-0/3.66m – tie-ninth in school history). The men’s 1,600-meter relay team also claimed victory with a time of 3:15.23.

Several members of the team earned runner-up finishes, including freshman Blair Majcina in the high jump, Ryan Postel in the 200-meter dash, senior Meghan Horn in the shot put, junior Garet Koxklein in the discus and sophomore Kyle Annen in the hammer throw.

With the beginning of the new season, the team must now make a transition from the indoor season to outdoor preparation.

“I think both teams will do well outdoors,” Piane said. “They should have a good season.”

The team now turns its attention to the upcoming meet in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcat Combined Events meet begins Thursday at the Arizona campus and runs through Saturday.