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ND WOMEN’S TRACK: Madia to lead team in event

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 15, 2005

California, here they come.

For the second time this season, a portion of the Notre Dame women’s track team will be traveling west to compete in a meet in California. Much like the Stanford Invitational earlier this season, this weekend’s Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut, Ca. will feature NCAA-level competition. The Mt. SAC Relays is recognized as one of the premier events on the college track schedule, both for its size – more than 100 teams will be represented – and its level of competition. Many post-collegians run in the meet along with some of the best athletes from colleges across the country.

Irish coach Tim Connelly spoke highly of the meet.

“Conditions are always perfect for fast times, and it is always a great environment out there,” Connelly said. “They always get a lot of fans out – people who are really interested in track.”

Connelly will bring his best athletes this weekend, as a select group of nine has been chosen take on the elite competition. While he spoke highly of all the athletes competing this weekend, Connelly was especially excited for Kerry Meagher.

“It’ll be a big weekend for Kerry,” Connelly said. “She’ll get her first chance to run against some really tough competition.”

Meagher was an All-American at 1,500 meters last spring, but a lingering cross-country injury has limited her time on the track this season. The senior ran her first race of the track season two weeks ago at Purdue and was victorious in the 1,500.

The Irish will also be looking for strong performances from Stephanie Madia and Sunni Olding in the 5,000 meters, Katie DeRusso in the steeplechase, Lauren King in the 10,000 meters, Okechi Ogbuokiri in the 200 and 400 meters, Maryann Erigha in the 100 and 200 meters, Emily Loomis in the high jump and Petra Dankova in the triple jump. All of these athletes are expected to push for NCAA qualifications this weekend.

The team will be in California through Sunday as the size of the meet requires three days of competition.

Connelly discussed the pros and cons of the long weekend.

“The travel will be tough on the girls,” he said. “Anytime you have to go that far in a weekend it’s difficult, and we’ll have to be careful and make sure the girls recover next week in training.

“But it also gives people like Okechi a chance to run two competitive races on separate days [Friday and Sunday]. She’ll be able to recover for her second race.”

The rest of the Irish squad will travel to Butler University for the Indy Relays on Saturday. This meet will be much smaller, featuring schools exclusively from the Midwest, and will have only running events. The goal of this meet will be to qualify athletes for the Big East meet, an attainable goal for many team members.

With the Irish inching closer to the end of the season, Connelly likes his team’s position.

“We had a good two weeks of training and I can see that we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.