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Track & Field: Irish travel to compete in two Arizona meets

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 24, 2006

Notre Dame travels to Tucson, Ariz. to take part in the Wildcat Combined Events meet today and the Jim Click Shootout on Saturday.

Both meets are sponsored by the University of Arizona, with the first meet taking place on campus and the Saturday meet slated to occur at Drachman Stadium in Tucson.

The Irish will be taking a limited number of athletes to Tucson.

The competition, much like other early meets, is designed to let several athletes attempt to get qualifying times out of the way early in the season for the Big East Conference meet and the NCAA Mideast Regional meet.

This allows the Irish to focus on more intense training during the early part of the outdoor season and build strength for the later meets.

“You really want to get qualifications early,” senior sprinter Ryan Postel said. “It can be a struggle to miss qualifiers early on and try to get it late. I want to get qualifications out of the way to focus on training.”

The Irish men and women will have an excellent opportunity to meet their qualifying standards for the conference and NCAA meets this weekend if the weather conditions prove to be as favorable as predicted.

The Irish are expected to be competing in 80-degree temperatures with no signs of bad weather.

The situation is unlike last week at the Cal Poly Invitational, where the Irish faced colder temperatures and a 25-mph head wind that slowed down times for many of the athletes who may have otherwise gotten their qualifiers out of the way there.

“To go to an outdoor meet with great weather, I’m just excited and feeling good,” Postel said. “This weekend in Arizona will be 82 and sunny. You should see some good marks from us.”

While the unpredictability of the weather adds a degree of difficulty to the outdoor season, many of the athletes are still enthusiastic.

There are a number of other small differences, such as a longer track length and an increased number of events that can potentially have a sizeable impact on meets.

“The thing with outdoor meets is you always have to adjust for the weather conditions,” junior sprinter Okechi Ogbukiri said. “You have to adjust for when it’ll be cold or windy, whether you have the wind at your back or not, if it’s raining, that sort of thing.

“With the transition into the outdoor season, you generally see people’s times improve,” Ogbukiri said. “The track is longer, so you have bigger turns and a longer straightaway, which makes people with longer strides more comfortable.”

While Postel (200-, 400-meter runs) and Ogbukiri (200-, 400-meter runs) look to meet their qualifying times, several other members of the Irish squad heading to Tucson are looking to meet their qualifying marks or improve their times, including junior sprinter Maryann Erigha in the 100-meter run, Laura Huarte in the pole vault and Austin Wechter in the 400-meter hurdles.