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Track and Field

Notre Dame returns to action in Ann Arbor

| Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Coming off a six-week break since their strong first performance of the indoor season at the Blue and Gold Invitational in early December, the Irish will return to the track this Saturday for the Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Irish freshman Ashlyn Rambo, left, junior Danielle Aragon, center, and freshman Jessica Harris compete in the 1,000-meter run during the Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 5 at Loftus Sports Center.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish freshman Ashlyn Rambo, left, junior Danielle Aragon, center, and freshman Jessica Harris compete in the 1,000-meter run during the Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 5 at Loftus Sports Center.

The upcoming invitational marks the second of nine meets in which Notre Dame will compete this indoor season leading up to the ACC Invitational on Feb. 26-28. In the Blue and Gold Invitational, the Irish were dominant, winning 22 of the 30 events.

“The goal for this first meet back is again to get the athletes acclimated to competition,” Irish coach Alan Turner said. “After being away from coaches [during winter break], … the student-athletes hope to have good performances, but you might not see eye-popping performances.”

Notre Dame will compete against Michigan, who is hosting the event, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Western Michigan and Detroit. Michigan is ranked No. 15 nationally on the women’s side, and Turner said Toledo – whose women qualified for the cross country NCAA Championships – would be another strong competitor, especially in long-distance events.

“After this break of five to six weeks, we want to see where we’re at as we get into the truly competitive phase of our season,” Turner said. “It’ll just continue to build week after week [throughout the season] in terms of the expectations for the team’s performance, with the ACC Championships being the pinnacle.”

Freshman sprinter Parker English, who was the Gatorade Illinois Track and Field Athlete of the Year as a senior, did not compete in the Blue and Gold Invitational but will be sprinting this weekend. Turner said he is excited to see how she will perform in her first collegiate competition.

He also said he would keep an eye on senior thrower Emily Morris, who set the indoor school record for the shot put in the first event of the year, as he looks for her to continue to put up big scores and top her previous mark.

Experimentation is another goal of this early-season meet, Turner said.

“This time of the season gives us an opportunity to test [the younger runners] and see what events they’re really best at,” he said. “The reason for this is, first, to challenge them in a competitive environment, and second, we may find that they’re very good in an event that’s not their main event.”

Freshmen distance runners Jessica Harris, Samantha Murray and Alex Daugherty, for example, who usually run the half-mile, will be competing in the 600-meter run, a slightly shorter event. Turner said he looks forward to seeing what they can do.

Last year, Notre Dame won eight of the of the 28 events, including the 4×400-meter relays on both the men’s and women’s sides.

“It’s going to be a competitive event,” Turner said. “In every event, we have to go out ready to compete in order be successful.”

The Irish will travel to the U-M Indoor Track Building in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to compete in the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

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