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ND Track and Field: Irish look ahead to end of indoor season

Chris Michalski | Thursday, March 5, 2009

Notre Dame will finish up the indoor season with two meets over break. This weekend, the Irish will compete in the Alex Wilson Invitational, held at Notre Dame’s Meyo Field. Although the Big East Championships have already been completed, the Invitational still has major ramifications for some athletes.

“The Alex Wilson meet provides Notre Dame athletes a last chance to qualify for nationals. It is an essential meet for those looking to secure a provisional or automatic mark that will advance them to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships,” junior pole vaulter Matt Schipper said.

Those who succeed in qualifying for nationals will take a trip down to Texas in two weeks. So far, senior pole vaulter Mary Saxer is the only Irish athlete to officially punch her ticket to the meet. Schipper, with his performance in the Big East Championships, also qualified, but will have to wait until the Invitational to know whether or not he will be taken.

“The rankings change so frequently each week that it’s difficult to tell exactly who will be making the trip down to Texas as of this moment … A lot can change this coming weekend,” Saxer said.

A few Irish athletes on the bubble for nationals include his younger brother, pole vaulter Kevin Schipper, and senior distance runner Patrick Smyth.

As for the rest of the team that is not in position to qualify, the next few weeks mark a transition period from indoor to outdoor track.

“This time is kind of a strange time because for much of the team their indoor season is finished, but there are also a handful still competing for indoor,” Saxer said. “Those whose indoor seasons are finished are running and lifting hard here for a few weeks, getting ready for outdoor which kicks off around the beginning of April.”

The athletes competing in the Alex Wilson Invitational and the NCAA Championships will continue their in-season routines. The Invitational will begin at 5 p.m. Friday and continue through Saturday. The national championships will take place at Texas A&M University the next weekend.