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Track and Field

ND returns to track after break

| Friday, January 17, 2014

Notre Dame will hit the track for the first time in over a month when they travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Simmons-Harvey Invitational on Saturday.

The Irish have had a strong week of preparation, but Irish coach Joe Piane said he still expects some rust from the long hiatus.

“If you don’t so something for a long time, it may be running or playing basketball, there’s going to be a little bit of rust,” Piane said. “After the workouts we did this week, the guys are looking pretty fit.”

Making the transition even more difficult will be the meet’s hosts, Michigan. The Wolverine women were ranked 13th in the preseason, and while the men are unranked, they return four All-Americans from last season. Senior throwers Cody Riffle and Ethan Dennis both earned top-12 finishes in last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships for the men, and sophomore Maya Long is the lone returnee from their women’s national champion distance medley relay team. Additional schools competing include Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green, among others. Piane said the Irish would have to shake off their rust quickly because of the quality competition.

“We told them ‘You just have to get out and race and see how you feel,’” Piane said. “Michigan is very good, Eastern Michigan has some good kids, so yeah, it’ll be a good meet.”

The increase in difficulty is not the only way that this meet will help the Irish prepare for the conference meet, as Piane said the track size in Ann Arbor was a major factor in scheduling the meet.

“The reason why we’re going to Ann Arbor is that they have a 200-meter flat track, and our ACC meet is on a 200-meter flat track,” Piane said. “So most of the people need to get on it to just to find out what its like to run on a track of that size.”

The Irish will be counting on continued excellence from their 400-meter runners. At the Blue and Gold Meet on Dec. 6th, the Irish placed one-two in both genders, with sophomore Margaret Bamgbose and senior Michelle Brown pacing the women, and senior Patrick Feeney and junior Chris Giesting leading the men. Piane said he expects strong performances from those runners again, and also that Brown and Giesting will experiment in a new event, the 200.

“[This meet] is an opportunity for kids … like Chris Giesting and Michelle Brown, who are really good 400 runners, but they’re going to run the 200,” Piane said. “So it’s a chance to do something a little bit different, in preparation for the balance of the season.”

Notre Dame is taking 63 athletes to Ann Arbor, and Piane said he was excited for some of the freshmen to get their first road meet under their belt.

“I’ve got two young freshmen going that I’m really excited about, [middle distance runners] Chris Marco and Jacob Dumford.” Piane said. “I’m anxious to see how they do. We’ll see how it goes.”

The Irish will compete all day Saturday at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu


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