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Track and Field: ND ready to take on Big East

Alex West | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

With the season winding down, the Irish men’s and women’s track teams are cranking up the intensity for the Big East Championship starting this Friday in Philadelphia.

After a strong showing at the Drake and Hillsdale Relays last weekend, the Irish can focus on one of what Irish coach Joseph Piane called “the two biggest meets of the year.”

“The kids are getting pretty intense this time of year,” Piane said. “There’s been a change in everyone’s demeanor.”

In February, the men’s and women’s indoor teams finished second and fifth, respectively. Piane hopes that both teams can improve on these results from just a few months ago.

“We would like to improve,” Piane said. “But, unfortunately, we can’t guarantee it.”

Although the Irish have had great success this year in the distance events and some field events, the sprints that have hurt the Irish. In order to suceed this weekend, Piane said his squad would need to take advantage wherever they can to get points.

“Everywhere we can score, we need to,” Piane said. “We will need to get a couple of people scoring in events like the 5000-meter and the 800-meter instead of just one.”

Standing in the way of the Irish will be the best runners, throwers, and jumpers in the Big East. On the men’s side, the main competition will come from Connecticut, Georgetown and No. 20 Louisville. The women will have to battle against the top Big East teams including Louisville, South Florida and Georgetown.

After the Big East Championships this weekend, the Irish have a trip down to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech Invitational before the NCAA Regionals in late May in Louisville, Ky. So far the Irish have 18 qualifiers on the men’s and women’s team combined for the NCAA Regionals. Notre Dame can add to these numbers with a strong showing at this weekend.

The conference championships begin Friday morning at 11 a.m. with the men’s decathlon and women’s hepthathlon. The running and field events begin on Saturday morning with the finals concluding on Sunday.