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ND Track: Team faces home challenge

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 2, 2007

Notre Dame has had a lot of success this season, but will face its biggest test of the season when it competes in the Meyo Invitational this weekend at the Loftus Center.

The Meyo Classic is the highlight of Notre Dame’s indoor season with top teams from across the country participating.

The Irish have started the season strong, with multiple qualifiers for both the men and women’s teams. The last time the squad competed at the Notre Dame Invitational Jan. 26, 31 Irish athletes qualified for the Big East championships later this month including six Notre Dame male mile runners.

Notre Dame’s female team was just as impressive in the distance events, with two Irish athletes qualifying for the mile and 3,000 meter races.

Both teams have also performed well in the sprint events, with each gender sending at least one runner to the conference championship in the 60, 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes.

Despite having such success in almost every event, Irish coach Joe Piane said that every event is critical to the team’s success.

“We need to have good performances to get us prepared for the Big East meet,” he said. “So may it be the 60 meter dash or the 35 pound weight, we need to perform well in order to be prepared properly for the Big East championship.”

The main event of the Meyo Invitational every year is the “Meyo Mile” in which the top distance runners from across the country compete. This year, Notre Dame will provide some of that talent, including junior Jake Watson and senior Todd Ptacek, who run the mile in 4:03 and 4:05, respectively.

“It should be a very, very good run,” Piane said of the meet’s signature event. “Hopefully we’ll have somebody approaching four or at least approaching four.”

With only one meet remaining before the Big East championship, the Irish will have to try to accumulate as many conference bids as possible this weekend. The only remaining meet this season is the Windsor Team Challenge, and Piane said he is not sure of how many competitors he is going to send.

“So we really gotta jump on the horse real quick and get some kids qualified,” Piane said. “And we’ve done it on the women’s side and the men’s side.”

Overall, Piane has been pleased with his team’s performance in the indoor season. Piane said that so far the team is accomplishing its goals for the indoor track season.

“Our goal is always to do well at the Big East and hopefully at the NCAAs. So the first step is to get as many kids qualified for the Big East as possible,” he said. “Generally we have 28 to 30 or 32 per gender qualified and I think we’re pretty close to that now.

“We’ll get a few this weekend.”