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Track and Field

Split squads head off to Virginia, Georgia

| Friday, April 17, 2015

About a month removed from the indoor season and another away from the ACC outdoor championships, several Notre Dame athletes will look to hit their stride this weekend as they split up between Charlottesville, Virginia, for the Virginia Challenge and Atlanta for the Georgia Tech Invitational.

Last weekend at the ACC/Big Ten Invitational, Notre Dame took a large, somewhat young squad to Louisville, Kentucky, where the team experienced mixed results.

“For some of [the underclassmen], it was a great opportunity and a stepping stone so they can continue their season well as they get to these bigger meets,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said. “A few didn’t work out as well … but many of them really stepped up.”

Freshman Hunter Holston vaults the high jump during the Blue-Gold Meet on Dec. 5, 2014 Holston would go on to win the event at Loftus Sports Center.Wei Lin | The Observer

Freshman Hunter Holston vaults the high jump during the Blue-Gold Meet on Dec. 5, 2014 Holston would go on to win the event at Loftus Sports Center.

This weekend, the Irish distance runners — many of whom sat out at Louisville after running in back-to-back meets the two weekends before — will face a strong field at the Virginia Challenge. Eight men and five women will face runners from 35 invited schools, primarily from the East Coast, but also including Big Ten schools such as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.

“There’s a pretty good field lined up out there at Virginia for distance running,” Turner said. “We’ll look for our distance runners to improve on their [early-season] marks.”

The remaining squad of sprinters, jumpers and throwers will compete at the Georgia Tech Invitational. The Irish will bring 18 from the women’s side and 16 from the men’s to face a smaller but similarly strong field including the fifth-ranked Georgia women’s squad, as well as ACC competitors Clemson, Duke and Georgia Tech.

Turner said he hopes Notre Dame will hold its own and post impressive scores at both Georgia Tech and Virginia.

“The whole purpose of this weekend, when you look at mid-April, this is a time when everyone should be really hitting their stride,” he said. “After this weekend I’ll really know ‘This person is doing well in their event, and they’re probably going to score for us at the ACC’ or ‘This person — eh, we may need to try something else in the latter half of the outdoor season.’”

Freshman Parker English will look to follow up her first-place finish and personal best of 23.71 seconds in the 200-meter dash at Louisville when she runs the 400-meter this weekend. Turner said both English and senior Amber Lalla, who won the 400 at Louisville, have a chance to crack the 54-second mark in that race.

In throwing events, freshman Greg Bombara will be competing in the javelin again after winning the event last weekend, while senior Dominick Padovano will throw the discus coming off a second-place performance.

Turner said he will be watching to see if senior thrower Emily Morris can replicate her indoor success this weekend, as well as if sophomore Emily Carson can reach the 20-foot mark in the long jump after winning in Louisville.

After giving them a breather last weekend, Notre Dame will also return several veteran standouts and All-Americans such as senior Chris Giesting in the 400, senior Jade Barber in the 100-meter hurdles and junior Margaret Bamgbose in the 400.

“After three meets, we’ve gotten a pretty good idea how strong we’re going to be as a team and who’s going to be strong in what areas and in what areas we think people will develop,” Turner said. “We’re right on schedule [with where we need to be] for the season.”

Irish athletes will compete in their fourth meet of the outdoor season today and Saturday. The distance runners will be in Charlottesville for the Virginia Challenge, while the sprinters, jumpers and throwers will head to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech Invitational.

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