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ND WOMEN’S TRACK: Irish women continue tournament running

Ryan Kiefer | Friday, April 22, 2005

With the Big East Championship meet two weeks away, the Notre Dame women’s track team can quite literally see the finish line.

The main concern now is getting there as fast as possible.

After sending a group of athletes to the highly competitive Mt. SAC relays last weekend, the Irish will spend this weekend in Champaign, Ill. at the University of Illinois for the Central Collegiates meet.

The conference meet was very much in the minds of the Irish coaches when they made the lineup for Saturday. Notre Dame will keep its best distance runners home this weekend, allowing them to turn their focus to the Big East meet, where the Irish will be looking to overtake indoor champion Pittsburgh. Distance coach Tim Connelly explained his team’s strategy.

“They [athletes staying home this weekend] are qualified all the way to NCAA’s, so we probably won’t have them run again until conference,” Connelly said.

The off week also gives the runners a chance to recover from last weekend’s intense competition.

“A weekend like we had in California [last weekend] takes a toll on the girls, not only with the competition, but with the travel. We were really careful with runners like Steph[anie Madia], and Sunni [Olding] this week. In fact they won’t have their first hard workout until [today],” Connelly said.

Sprints coach John Millar is expected to employ the same strategy.

Sprinters such as Maryann Erigha, who won both the 100 and 200 last weekend, will be resting.

As for the athletes heading to Illinois Saturday, the goals will be the same as they have been in previous weeks – hitting conference and NCAA regional qualifying times, establishing relay combinations and gaining racing experience. The Irish have posted 25 Big East qualifying marks to this point, ten of which also met the standard for the NCAA regional.

The team will place a special focus Saturday on the middle distance and technical events such as long jump and high jump.

Connelly felt that these events needed competition every weekend to stay sharp.

He was also excited about Stacey Cowan’s return to the high jump event. The junior All-American missed the Mt. SAC meet due to a death in the family.

Connelly also mentioned that the focus is strictly individual this weekend, and that there will be time for team competition later in the season.

“We won’t start looking for teams until the Big East meet,” he said. “We have to get kids qualified first.”