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Track and Field

Irish look to stay focused over break ahead of Illini Classic

| Wednesday, December 7, 2016

After ringing in the indoor track season with a 12-win performance at the Blue & Gold Invitational last Friday, Notre Dame now enters its six-week hiatus over winter break before resuming competition on Jan. 14 at the Illini Classic.

For head coach Alan Turner and the rest of the Irish coaching staff, the layoff presents numerous challenges — such as loss of momentum, focus and fitness. Turner said he recognizes almost every school is facing the same problem, but he still wants his team to make the very best of the situation that they’re in so as not to fall behind.

“It’s unusual for most sports that you would start a season off and then all of a sudden, you take a six-week break,” Turner said. “But we’re not the only ones that are in this boat. Going into [the break], we’re going to stay focused this week before finals week and get as much done as we can in this period. A lot of schools will take two or three weeks off and then bring their student-athletes back earlier to train, and we’ll do the same thing — we’ll have [the team] back on Jan. 8.”

Irish junior Hunter Holton attempts to clear the bar during the Blue & Gold Invitational on Friday at Loftus Sports Complex.Chris Collins | The Observer

Irish junior Hunter Holton attempts to clear the bar during the Blue & Gold Invitational on Friday at Loftus Sports Complex.

With athletes traveling home for Christmas and enjoying the holiday season, Turner said he expects the team to be a little rusty when it comes back to school, but he still maintains the all-important aspect of trying to stay as fit and focused as possible over winter break.

“It’s imperative — not only for us but for every school in the country — to try to maintain the fitness level and our sharpness that we’ve gathered throughout the fall and not to lose too much during the break,” Turner said. “What usually happens — not just in our case but for everyone — is that at the first meet back from the break, the performances usually aren’t as good as they were in that December meet. It usually takes the athletes a good week and a half to get their bearings [and] get their feet underneath them again, and so usually that second meet back from the break is a pretty good meet. And then from there on, you keep rolling week by week through the indoor season. It’s all about trying to get the athletes to do something to maintain that fitness level while they’re gone.”

The first meet the Irish will compete in after break is the Illini Classic on Jan. 14 at the University of Illinois-Armory — marking the first time Notre Dame has participated in the Illini Classic. The Irish then return home to host the Notre Dame Invitational the following Saturday at Loftus Sports Center. Turner said he expects the team will naturally perform better at the Notre Dame Invitational than the Illini Classic.

“That’s exactly what I expect,” Turner said. “Again, every time there’s a competition, I want my athletes going for the win and going all out, but we’re going to be a little flat [at the Illini Classic], and so will the competition. Most coaches in that first meet back from the break are not expecting fireworks or big qualifying marks — if it happens, that’s great, but we’re not expecting that to happen too much.”

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a junior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. He is a proud resident of Stanford Hall and the defending champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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