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Track and Field

Irish set to host Notre Dame Invitational

| Wednesday, January 21, 2015

As the Irish carry on with their season following a solid performance at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational last weekend, they are primed to return to the track Saturday for the Notre Dame Invitational at the Loftus Sports Center, where they will host a challenging field.

As the season continues to progress — the upcoming meet is the third of nine regular-season meets — the level of competition continues to grow stronger for the Notre Dame squad.

Irish coach Alan Turner said Michigan State, No. 22 nationally for men and No. 19 for women, and Purdue, the No. 14 men’s team, as well as Eastern Michigan, would be especially competitive this weekend, contending in almost every event. He also said Indiana State, the defending champion in the Missouri Valley Conference on both the men’s and women’s sides, is perhaps the most well-rounded team in the invitational.

“For this meet coming up, we’re going to be tested again,” Turner said. “Each meet is basically a test to get us ready for the ACC championships and the NCAA championships. There’s a lot of good competition [this weekend], especially for a smaller tournament.”

Irish junior Danielle Aragon, left, and freshman Jessica Harris run in the 1,000-meter run during the Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 14.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior Danielle Aragon, left, and freshman Jessica Harris run in the 1,000-meter run during the Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 14.

Youth was a theme for the Irish last weekend, as freshmen Jessica Harris and Parker English were two of the bright spots on the women’s side in what Turner said he considers a somewhat underwhelming performance by the team as a whole. Harris won the 600-meter run in a school-record time of 1:31.98, and English took the 400-meter event with a time of 56.47 and was part of the winning women’s 4×400-meter relay as well.

While the younger runners are getting an early start in their careers, Turner said he is also excited to see returning runners compete, such as sophomore middle-distance runner Jake Dumford and junior distance runner Michael Clevenger, who rested for the first two meets to recover from the cross-country season.

Their return will come just in time for a more high-stakes meet this weekend, which will be the first scored event in which the Irish have competed so far. Turner said both his own approach and the runners’ approaches are slightly different with the scoring in place.

“I want to make sure we have each event area covered and have a good showing in each event,” he said. “It also holds each person accountable. … [When] I put you in an event to compete, I expect you to contribute and score well. Whereas before there were no team implications, here I’m looking for everyone to do their part.”

However, Turner said he still keeps the long-term health of the runners as his priority.

“Any competition we enter that’s a scored meet, I want to win, but … not at the expense of hurting our team or pushing our team to a limit that will affect us in a month,” he said. “[That being said,] now is where the season really picks up, and there’s no more, ‘Well okay, it’s my first meet, I’ve never done this.’ It’s time to really get the legs turning over.”

The Irish will host the Notre Dame Invitational beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday in Loftus Sports Center.

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