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ND Track: Irish split up team for two tourneys

Bill Brink | Friday, March 30, 2007

Notre Dame will split up this weekend and send athletes both across the country to the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, Calif., and just a few hours south to the Mike Poehlein Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind.The Stanford Invitational is geared towards the middle-distance and distance events, Irish coach Joe Piane said.”That’s all we’re sending,” he said. Seniors Molly Huddle and Amy Kohlmeier will run the 5,000 meters, as will sophomore Patrick Smyth. Junior John Cavanaugh will compete in the 800 meters, and junior Jake Watson will run the 1,500 meters. Senior Todd Ptacek rounds out the Irish competitors there, running the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Ptacek’s best time in the event came at last year’s Stanford Invitational, when he finished in 8:58.05.”They’re all national-class kids,” Piane said. “They’ve trained exceptionally hard, and all have qualified for the NCAAs at some point. This will make sure they get a really good early-season time.”About 30 athletes, mostly throwers, will travel to West Lafayette. But that group will not include most of the athletes that competed last weekend at the Arizona State Clif Bar Invitational.”It’s not uncommon to give them a weekend rest,” Piane said.Junior thrower Kyle Annen and senior thrower Garet Koxlien will both compete, as well freshman thrower Jaclyn Espinoza.”I want to see what Espinoza can do,” Piane said.Freshmen Eric Quick will compete in the long jump and sophomore Blair Majcina will compete in the high jump. Sophomore Patrick Needham will run hurdles, and sophomore Billy Buzaid will run the 400-meter dash.Buzaid will look to match or beat his personal best time of 49.30 seconds, set at the 2006 Hillsdale Gina Relays, while Needham hopes to better his record time of 15.55 seconds from the same meet.Of the athletes competing, Piane believes Quick has a good chance of scoring or qualifying.The athletes began tapering earlier this week. Piane said there was no special method to preparing for a meet.”There’s no kind of secret play to get ready,” Piane said. “You do drills specific to event, drills specific to sprinting, endurance drills and lifting. These are things you do on a weekly basis.”The qualification system for the NCAA Championships in outdoor track and field differs from that of the indoor competitions. In the outdoor season, athletes qualify for the regional competitions. The top five from each of the four regionals advance, setting a field of 20 athletes. After that, four to eight more may be taken from a list in descending order of time or score.