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ND Men’s Track: Season kicks off with invitational

Joe Meixell | Friday, December 7, 2007

After a 2006-07 campaign that saw Notre Dame capture its third Big East indoor title in the past five years, the Irish start their new season tonight at the Blue and Gold Invitational in the Loftus Center.

Head coach Joe Piane is hopeful his team can perform at the same level this season.

“I think we should be equally as good. We lost a few kids but we brought a few in,” he said. ” I think we’re going to have a very solid track team across the board.”

The team plans to build on the talent and skill it retains from last season.

For sprints, sophomore Balasz Molnar already made it into the record books as a freshman, running 13 separate top-10 times in Notre Dame’s history in the 400-meter hurdles, 500, and 400 relays.

The Irish also have many key runners in middle distance, especially senior Adam Currie, who took Big East honors in the 1,000 last year. Currie also had a share in the fourth-place 800 all-Big East relay team, along with senior Brett Adams, senior John Cavanaugh, and graduate Tom Channey.

In the distance events, Notre Dame looks to senior Kurt Benninger and sophomore Jake Watson, who are both running sub four-minute miles, to lead the pack this season.

The team is also relying on its long and triple jumper, Eric Quick, who earned Big East honors last year as a freshman, jumping 6.62 m (21-8 ?) during the indoor season.

Returning solid talent from a wide variety of events, the Irish are eager to show how much progress has been made from last year, Piane said.

“All the sprinters and field event people have been training since September,” Piane said. “Distance kids are in a down period since cross country ended. As far as I know we’re pretty healthy which is always key.”

Tonight’s meet with DePaul will be run intersquad, which means the teams are competing for times, but not against each other. Any times recorded at the meet that are fast enough can count as qualifying times for the Big East conference meet.

“Last year, we had 40 qualifying marks,” Piane said.

The invitational begins tonight at 5 p.m.