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Track and Field: Outdoor season to open with Victor Lopez Invite

Joseph Monardo | Friday, March 23, 2012

Coming off strong performances in the Big East indoor championships and the NCAA indoor championships, the Irish prepare to leave the comforts of enclosure tracks behind and venture outside.

The Irish will compete in their first outdoor meet of the year this weekend when they travel to Houston for the Victor Lopez Invitational.

The team decided not to send any athletes to the Alabama Relays, which is open only to multi-eventers and began Thursday and concludes today. Instead, the Irish will travel in full force to Texas.

The Invitational, hosted by Rice University, will feature other prominent Texas schools among a deep field.

“It should be a pretty good meet,” Irish coach Joe Piane said. “Usually, the University of Texas will be there, Rice will be there, obviously, Houston should be there. There will be a smattering of other schools – there will be about 20 or 30 schools there – but those are probably the best. There will be very good competition in all the events.”

The meet represents the first competition for most of Notre Dame’s athletes since the Alex Wilson Invitational nearly three weeks ago.

On Feb. 19, the Irish men captured the fifth Big East indoor title in program history while the women finished fourth. On March 10, all six of the Irish athletes competing in the NCAA indoor championships earned All-American honors in a weekend highlighted by the men’s distance medley relay team’s gold-medal finish. Senior Kevin Schipper earned a fourth-place finish in the pole vault, with a personal-best jump of 5.45 meters and senior multi-eventer Maddie Buttinger earned a bronze medal in the pentathlon with her school-record score of 4,269.

The Irish hope to carry some of the momentum they gained during the indoor season over to the spring.

“The kids have all trained and they have trained very well,” Piane said. “I think they are well prepared.”

The move outside brings with it several changes in the list of events, most notably for the throwing team.

“Some of the events change, obviously,” Piane said. “You are not going to see the 60-meter [dash], it goes to a 100-meter [dash]. The hurdles go to 110-meters for the men, 100-meters for the women and there is the 400-meter hurdles. And you add things like javelin, discus and the hammer, so there are quite a few of adjustments that have to be made.”

Further additions in the outdoor season include the steeplechase, the 10,000-meter run, the heptathlon and the 4×100-meter relay.

Despite the shuffling of events and the change in venues, Notre Dame has not changed its mindset or goals.

“We still have the same goals that we have in indoor – to do well at the Big East meet, to win the Big East meet and to get people to the NCAA’s,” Piane said. “We are well on our way to that. We have a distinct goal [at the Victor Lopez Invitational] – we have to get kids qualified for the Big East meet this weekend, and we will.”

The Irish will compete in the first entry to their outdoor season today and Saturday in Houston.


Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu