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Track and Field

Irish head to Ohio for Spire DI Invitational

| Friday, February 13, 2015

A week removed from hosting the Meyo Invitational, one of the largest and most competitive meets of the indoor season, many Irish runners will return to the track this weekend for the Spire DI Invitational in Geneva, Ohio.

With only two events before the ACC Indoor Championships begin Feb. 26, many of the Notre Dame athletes will be vying to hit the qualifying benchmarks and secure spots in the conference meet.

Among the men’s 4×400-meter relay team, for example, which finished second at the Razorback Invitational with a time of 3:09.90, only senior All-American Chris Giesting has qualified individually. Irish coach Alan Turner said he thinks the younger members of the team — sophomores Harvey Smith and John Rutkowski and freshman Eric Ways — could all potentially translate their relay performances into individual qualifying times. He noted a similar situation on the women’s side as well.

“We’re going to be watching for freshman Parker English in the 400-meters,” Turner said. “She ran a very good split last week at Meyo … but she needs to duplicate that effort in the open 400. She’s definitely someone who could score well for us at the ACC [Championship].”

Senior All-American Jade Barber is also fighting to earn her spot in the 60-meter hurdles. Barber last year won the ACC Championship with a time of 8.19 seconds and cut a further nine hundredths off to finish seventh in the NCAA Championships. However, her best time this season is 8.32 seconds.

Irish senior Jade Barber competes in the 60-meter dash at the Blue & Gold Invitational on Dec. 5 at Loftus Sports Center. Barber took first place in the finals with a time of 7.59 seconds.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish senior Jade Barber competes in the 60-meter dash at the Blue & Gold Invitational on Dec. 5 at Loftus Sports Center. Barber took first place in the finals with a time of 7.59 seconds.

Turner, who said he remains confident in Barber, said simply, “I’m looking for her to come up big time this weekend.”

While many Irish athletes will be at the Spire Invitational, juniors Molly Seidel and Michael Clevenger will head to Ames, Iowa, to compete in the mile run at the Iowa State Classic, a perennially fast meet for longer-distance races. Last year, 22 percent of the eventual NCAA Championship field for middle- and long-distance events participated in the meet.

In the Spire DI Invitational, however, the Irish will carry primarily sprinters and jumpers. Most of the distance runners — with the exception of Seidel and Clevenger — will be resting to prepare for the Alex Wilson Invitational, the last meet before the ACC Championships.

Just as the past several weekends have pushed Notre Dame to keep up with high levels of competition, Turner said he expects this meet to test the team’s mettle once again.

“It’s going to be a tough meet,” he said. “It’s not going to be as [many competitors] as Meyo, but the quality is still there.”

At this point in the season, Turner said he feels confident in his team’s ability.

“We’re definitely progressing as I would like, especially on the women’s side,” he said. “The men’s side we’re just a little thin in a lot of areas. We don’t have the depth that we’ve had in the past…[so] it could always be better, but they’re progressing nicely.”

Irish athletes will travel to Geneva, Ohio, to kick off the Spire DI Invitational on Friday at 2 p.m., and the meet will continue through Saturday afternoon.

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