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ND Track & Field: Notre Dame heads outdoors out west

Megan Finneran | Friday, March 26, 2010

The Irish head out to the West Coast to open their outdoor season this weekend.
Notre Dame will send runners to both the Arizona State Invitational and the Stanford Invitational.

The Irish ended the indoor season on a high note, with the men winning the Big East indoor championship, and then the men and women sending a total of six runners to the NCAA Indoor National Championships.

Seniors Joanna Schultz and Jack Howard advanced to the preliminaries, and Howard took seventh in the men’s 800-meter in the finals to be named All-American. Now the team will face a different atmosphere from the indoor arena.

“We finished indoors with a lot of momentum, so hopefully we can carry that over into outdoors,” Howard said. “The competition always steps it up a notch as we transition outdoors, but with the way the indoor season went for our team, we will be ready.”

Last year the Irish had four athletes compete in the NCAA Outdoor National Championships. All-American senior Jaclyn Espinoza took third in the women’s discus throw, junior Justin Schneider took 20th in the men’s decathlon, Schultz took 26th in the women’s 400-meter and senior Matt Schipper took ninth in the preliminary men’s pole vault last year. The team is looking to send even more athletes this year.

Senior distance runner Jake Walker barely missed the preliminaries at the indoor championships, as his time qualified him provisionally, but did not hold up against this year’s talented field in the 5,000-meter run.

“This is probably my last collegiate season so I am looking to hit some big PRs in outdoor, qualify for nationals and earn All-American honors,” Walker said. “I hope to break 28:50 in the [10,000-meters] and 13:50 in the [5,000-meters] during outdoor.”

The Arizona State Invitational will take place at Joe Sellah Track in the Sun Nagel Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., where the teams will compete against 18 other schools from across the country. Friday’s only event is the hammer throw at 1 p.m., with Saturday beginning with field events at 10 a.m. and running events at 4 p.m.

The Stanford Invitational will take place at Cobb Track and Angell Field in Palo Alto, Calif., beginning Friday at 9 a.m. with field events and 11 a.m. with track events. Saturday will open at 9 a.m. with the hammer throw, followed by running events at 12:10 p.m.