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Track home opener set for this weekend

Mike Gilloon | Friday, April 2, 2004

The Irish look to find some spring in their step this weekend as they compete in their first home meet of the season. The 2004 spring opener will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Moose Krause Stadium.

This will be the second full weekend of outdoor competition for the Irish as they play host to squads from Xavier, DePaul and Ball State along with Northern Michigan, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

The team split up last weekend as half the group went to the Stanford Invitational and the other half traveled to the Purdue Invite. The road trips were a success as 17 athletes qualified for the Big East conference meet.

Assistant coach Tim Connelly expects another strong showing from the Irish as the team makes its home outdoor debut.

“Our goal is to compete well and get people qualified for the Big East Championships,” he said.

A handful of Notre Dame runners such as Molly Huddle, Lauren King and Kerry Meagher will not race this weekend. Besides having already qualified for the Big East, the long indoor season has taken its toll on them.

“We have a very long time until the NCAA meet,” Connelly said. “A lot of our kids have been running since around October, and we have to be really, really careful we don’t wear them out.”

The NCAA outdoor meet will not take place this season until June 9-12 in Austin, Texas. Until then the Irish will be traveling to meets almost every weekend.

While Notre Dame boasts a state-of-the-art indoor track facility, the South Bend weather is not as conducive to outdoor track and field. The forecast calls for the weather to be partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 50s and Connelly definitely expects the weather to be a factor.

“If it’s cold and windy it’s pretty hard to run fast,” he said. “Unless you’re in the 100 meter dash and the wind is at your back the weather is going to be working against you.”