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Track and Field: Five to compete at Big Meet

Brian Hartnett | Thursday, February 9, 2012

While most of the Irish squad will spend the weekend resting on campus, five Notre Dame runners will travel to Allendale, Mich. on Friday to compete in the Grand Valley State University Big Meet.

The majority of the Irish team will take this weekend off in order to rest before the Big East Championships, which will be held Feb. 18 and Feb. 19 in New York. Irish coach Joe Piane made the decision to send a handful of runners who need further preparation for next week’s meet.

“Historically, we take this weekend off, but we’re going to Grand Valley this year because there are a couple of kids who need to race,” Piane said.

On the men’s side, Notre Dame will look for contributions from three athletes who are currently in transition from the gridiron to the track. Sophomore cornerback Bennett Jackson, freshman running back George Atkinson III and freshman cornerback Josh Atkinson will all compete in the invitational, with Jackson running in the 60-meter hurdles and both Atkinsons running in the 60- and 200-meter events.

Sophomore hurdler Bryce Wood will also travel with the team and compete in the 60-meter hurdles.

The four men’s runners traveling to the meet have shown considerable progress, but have a rather limited body of work. Jackson and the Atkinsons all ran Big East qualifying times last week, with Wood having qualified for the Big East Championships earlier this season.

Piane said his primary motivation behind sending the runner

s was to give them additional experience, as Jackson and the Atkinsons recently joined the team in late January.

“Jackson has only been over a couple of flights of hurdles in the last few years, so we need him to get over a few more flights this week,” Piane said. “The same goes for Bryce Wood, who has only gone over one flight of hurdles this year.”

Freshman hurdler Jade Barber will be the sole representative for the Irish women’s team, competing in the 60-meter hurdles this weekend. Barber has already met the Big East qualifying times in the event, but has not competed in the 60-meter hurdles since the Notre Dame Invitational in December.

With the Big East Championships on the horizon, Piane said he is pleased with the team’s progress throughout the seaso


“The women’s team was average at the Big East meet last year, but I think they can come home with a trophy this year,” Piane said. “We have some very good freshmen that are going to contribute, and some of the older kids have made wonderful improvements. On the men’s side, we have a lot of really talented kids and have had some great performances.”

With the Irish putting together strong performances in the last few meets, Piane is confident the team will be a legitimate contender for the championships.

“We’re going to be a team that people will have to worry about in the Big East meet because we will be in the hunt,” Piane said.

The Grand Valley State University Big Meet begins at 10 a.m. Friday and continues all day Saturday.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu