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ND Invite another success

Jay Fitzpatrick | Monday, January 29, 2007

Notre Dame continued its strong indoor track season with an impressive performance Saturday at the Loftus Center in the Notre Dame Invitational, qualifying an additional 31 athletes for the Big East championships.

The main reason the Irish have been so successful this season – especially at the Notre Dame Invitational – is their hard training in preparation for the indoor season, said distance runner Patrick Smyth.

“I think our training over break [has been important for our success]. The indoor season is so short that you really have to come into it as soon as possible,” he said. “So with the season being so short you just have to get on it right away and try to get in at a fast time and try to qualify for the NCAAs.”

The Irish were headlined by their men’s mile team, which qualified six runners for the Big East meet and took home six of the top 10 final times.

Leading the pack for the men’s mile race was senior All-American Thomas Chamney, who set a new personal best with a finish of 4:02.63. Following Chamney across the line for the Irish were junior Jake Watson and sophomore Smyth, who each set new best-times at 4:03.30 and 4:08.89 respectively. Joining these three in qualifying were senior Todd Ptacek (4:09.45), junior Adam Currie (4:12.06) and junior Brett Adams (4:12.98).

“With our long break we have to work hard,” Smyth said. “I know Thomas Chamney and Jake Watson [went] to Albuquerque, which is 6,000 plus feet of altitude, and I was in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is in the high altitude and we all trained [hard] and came back in shape.”

The men’s team’s sprinters also performed well at the invite, garnering 10 bids. Freshman Jeff Farnell set two new personal bests in the 60 meters and 200 meters, as did senior Jordan Powel in the 200 meters and 400 meters. Freshman Austin Wechter and sophomore Bill Buzaid also qualified in the 400 meters. Rounding out the male qualifiers were sophomore Bob Keuny in the 500 meters and junior John Cavanaugh and freshmen Jim Notwell and Cameron Eckert in the 800 meters.

On the women’s side, the sprinters were able to hold their own, with seven qualifying times. Even though the Irish earned seven bids, they only went to four different runners. The trio of senior Okechi Ogbuokiri, junior Crysta Swayzer and freshman Joanna Schultz were all double qualifiers in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes. Junior Dominique Manning set two new personal bests, winning the 60-meter dash in only 7.85 seconds and qualifying for the 60-meter hurdles in 8.61 seconds.

Also qualifying for the women were Brianne Schmidt in the 800 meters, sophomore Heidi Rocha and freshman Lindsey Ferguson in the 3,000 meter and seniors Amy Kohlmeier and Katie DeRusso in the mile.

With the impressive qualifying numbers and one meet remaining, the Irish are confident in their chances at a Big East indoor championship this season.

“Everybody’s showing that they’re in shape and they want to win a Big East title,” Smyth said. “I think we were third last year and we’re showing some more motivation. I know a lot of the sprinters are getting a lot more people qualified, and the distance team is holding our own as well.”

The Irish resume competition this weekend at home with the Meyo Invitational.