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WOMEN’S TRACK: Irish face tough opponents in the Meyo Invitational this weekend

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 4, 2005

The “preseason” has ended for the Notre Dame women.

After dominating the competition in their first three non scoring meets, the Irish take to the Loftus track this weekend for their first major test of the season, the Meyo Invitational.

Four of Trackwire.com’s top-25 teams will compete this weekend including No. 7 Michigan, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 18 Georgia Tech and No. 25 Mississippi.

A bevy of talented athletes will provide the Irish with the competition they have lacked to this point in the season. The signature event, the Meyo Mile, will feature two of the top four milers in the NCAA, both from Michigan.

Stacey Cowan, Notre Dame’s All-American high jumper, who has not been threatened this year, will also face stiff competition. Georgia Tech’s Chaunte Howard, is thought by some to be the best high jumper in the nation.

When asked if his team was ready for the increased level of competition, coach Tim Connelly was confident and his response reflected his team’s anticipation.

“We are looking forward to [the meet],” Connelly said. “I’m especially excited for our kids that have already accomplished a great deal this season. They’ll get a chance to compete against some of the top athletes.”

With the high level of competition expected, much of the lineup juggling that has occurred in the passed two weeks will come to an end. Athletes will be competing in events with which they are most comfortable and familiar. Stephanie Madia, for example, will be running the 3,000 meters a week after running the 800 meters. She and freshman Sunni Olding will anchor an Irish distance team that is still without two of its star runners in Molly Huddle and Lauren King.

Despite having two of his top runners on the sideline, Connelly felt confident that his entire team could succeed in and benefit from this meet.

“Our goal is simply to improve,” he said. “Even our runners who aren’t quite in top form yet will get a chance to compete and succeed in the secondary heats. Hopefully with a little more intensity, all of our runners can step up to the level of competition this weekend.”