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Split squad travels to Mississippi, Michigan

Eugenia Alfonzo and Alex Barker | Friday, April 11, 2008

Notre Dame will split-up their squad for the second consecutive weekend when they send athletes to both the Mississippi Open in Oxford, Miss., and the Spartan Invitational in Lansing, Mich. this weekend.

Coming off strong performances in both the Stanford and Purdue Invitationals last weekend, Irish athletes will look to set more NCAA Regional qualifying marks by taking advantage of the warm weather down south.

“There will be primarily sprinters, throwers and a few middle distance runners and jumpers competing at Mississippi,” Irish distance coach Tim Connelly said. “Hopefully [Mississippi] will be warm and conducive for some good performances in the shorter races and field events.”

The SEC will provide plenty of competition for the Irish in Oxford due to its history of top performances, including placing six teams out of the top-10 at the NCAA Championship last year.

The Irish hope facing tough competition will prepare them to perform well at the Big East Outdoor Championship meet at the beginning of May.

Those athletes who will compete at Michigan State in the Spartan Invitational will not have the same good fortune of weather. “The conditions at Michigan State could be pretty difficult – cold and rainy – but that is just the reality of spring time in the Midwest,” Connelly said.

At the Spartan Invite, Notre Dame will face many familiar rivals and opponents, including Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State.

The Big East conference meet is rapidly approaching and each weekend’s meet is becoming more and more important.

“There are only a limited number of opportunities to compete before the conference meet,” Connelly said. “We need to take advantage of them.”

Senior distance runner Jake Watson agreed.

“These meets are for people looking to run the Big East standards,” Watson said.