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MEN’S TRACK: Sprinters, distance runners and throwers split up

Joe Meixell | Thursday, March 24, 2005

Much like a baseball team playing a split-squad game in spring training, the Notre Dame men’s track and field team will be sending athletes to two different meets this weekend.

A group comprised of distance runners and hammer-throwers will head west to the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., while a diverse contingent of sprinters, hurdlers and field competitors will travel south to Waco, Texas for the Dr. Pepper Invitational, hosted by Baylor University. The Stanford Invitational will be held on Friday and Saturday. The Dr. Pepper Invitational will take place on March 26.

Those competing in Palo Alto include Eric Morrison and Brett Adams in the 1500-meter race and Kurt Benninger in the 5000 meters.

The Stanford Invitational attracts teams from all over the country. Irish runners present will compete against runners from USC, UCLA, California, Washington and Washington State. There will also be a large number of unattached performers at the meet.

Among the Irish traveling to Waco will be hurdlers Selim Nurudeen and Austin Wechter, javelin thrower Derek Goguen and pole vaulter Justin Oppel. For Nurudeen and Oppel, the meet will be a homecoming of sorts, as both are from the Lone Star State. Nurudeen hails from Friendswood, Texas, while Oppel is from Amarillo. Many of Notre Dame’s opponents will also be from Texas, as Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas Christian University will all be heavily represented.

Irish assistant coach Tim Connelly explained the rationale behind splitting up the team.

“Stanford is usually a good meet for distance runners, and with the favorable conditions we’re hoping to get a bunch of NCAA regional qualifying marks out of the way,” he said. “The weather [in Palo Alto] doesn’t favor sprinters, so they’ll go down to Baylor.”