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Irish face Oakland in final dual meet

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 4, 2005

In the series history between Notre Dame and Oakland, the home team has won every meet, a trend that doesn’t bode well for the Irish on this weekend’s road trip. But if Notre Dame has proven anything this year, it’s that past history means nothing when it comes to present success.

“We’re ambitious about changing that history,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “This has been a season full of great improvement. A win Saturday would give us a 10 win season, and those are quite rare.”

This weekend’s meet in Rochester, Mich., represents a key opportunity for the Irish to fine-tune their performances.

“We have high expectations – this is a very important competition for us on Saturday. Some of us see it as the last meet of the season; others, as the last chance to prepare for the Big East championships,” Welsh said. “Every event we’re swimming Saturday, we’ll also swim at the Big East championships. That’s why we’re not looking past Saturday, because we’re not going to be good in New York unless we’re good now. We need to be good now so we can be better in New York.”

With the progress the Irish have made this season, the team is optimistic for the approaching Big East competition.

“We know we’ve trained well and raced well; the focus, energy and commitment have been there,” Welsh said. “To their credit, this team has been incredibly focused. They’ve done a great job of taking one game at a time, one meet at a time and still focusing on the final goal.”

The Irish enter the match with plenty of momentum after wins on the road last weekend against Cleveland State and St. Bonaventure, and hope to extend that into the Big East championships with a victory this weekend.

“We feel the momentum and energy after last weekend, and our spirits are pretty good right now,” Welsh said. “We’ve focused all year on being our very best at the end of the year, and we’re getting very close to that.”

For the seniors on the team, Saturday’s meet will mark the final dual meet of their careers.

“The seniors have been absolutely instrumental in our success this year; great seasons only come with seniors racing at their best,” Welsh said. “This time, there’s no next time. They’re going to be alumni after this, so whatever they want to get done, they have to get done now. We hope that brings out their best and causes some good things to happen.”