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Track and Field: Meyo Invitational celebrates 25th year

Laura Coletti | Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Irish will face one of the most competitive fields of teams they will face this season when they host the Meyo Invitational this weekend.

The meet, named in honor of the man who funded building the Loftus Sports Center track, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this weekend. The donor, a 1963 alumnus Ray Meyo, attends the meet each year to shoot the starting gun.

The meet’s one-mile run — dubbed the “Meyo Mile” — highlights the competition as athletes typically strive to break the elusive four-minute mark. Last year, junior Jeremy Rae won the race with a time of 3:59:62.

“Last year was an amazing experience,” Rae said. “I had put pressure on myself to win the race and run under four [minutes], and doing so was an incredible feeling.”

Rae said he is not as focused on running under the four-minute benchmark this year.

“The situation is a little different this year as I’m not putting all that much pressure on myself to run a fast time,” he said. “The emphasis is purely on winning. The Meyo Mile is known for annually being one of the fastest mile races of the indoor season.”

The men’s 400-meter relay team will be looking to keep its winning streak alive this weekend, and will face some strong competition. The meet draws dozens of top teams and competitors from around the country.

“There are plenty of good teams coming from all around the country,” Rae said. “Teams from the South are typically strong sprinters. The goal for the meet this weekend is for everyone to improve their marks heading into [the Big East meet],” he said.

Senior captain Maddie Buttinger of the women’s squad said her team will face tough competition as well.

“In all of the events, we have a bunch of all-Americans and National champions coming,” she said. “There are a huge amount of entries and it’s the highlight of a lot of people’s indoor season.”

The women have already had a number of athletes qualify for the Big East meet, and Buttinger said there is a great atmosphere surrounding the team right now.

“We’ve been getting better times and there has been a better spirit on the team since we’ve been doing well this year,” she said. “It’s really exciting because we’re looking to rebuild after last year’s disappointing Big East performance and rebuild.”

The team will hope to continue receiving strong contributions, including from underclassmen.

“We have a lot of athletes who can be really competitive at the events,” Buttinger said. “It’ll be really exciting to see how everyone does with such big fields and really good competition.”

The meet will get underway at 4 p.m. Friday inside Loftus Sports Center.