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Women’s Track and Field: Runners go to Hillsdale for relays

Alex Barker | Friday, April 25, 2008

The final opportunity for Irish athletes to qualify for the Big East outdoor championships next weekend is the Hillsdale Relays, beginning today in Hillsdale, Mich.

Distance coach Tim Connelly is looking forward to this weekend’s opportunity, but is satisfied with the number of runners that have already qualified for the Irish.

“We have several athletes whom I believe are capable of still qualifying for the Big East meet,” he said. “But overall I would say that the number of Big East/NCAA qualifiers that we have to date is about what we expected.”

Last week’s meets produced a number of new qualifiers for the Irish.

Freshmen Kelly Langhans and Natalie Johnson both qualified to compete in the NCAA regional meet with their times last week in the 800-meter run.

Sophomore Lindsey Ferguson also met the NCAA regional mark in the 3000-meter steeplechase event.

Junior Alyissa Hasan had the best meet for the Irish last week, setting school and personal records in the pentathlon with a total score of 5,509 points. Her Notre Dame record also gave her an automatic qualification for the NCAA Regionals in May.

The Irish will also send two throwers, junior Anna Weber and sophomore Jaclyn Espinoza, to the Drake Relays this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.

Both of these women have already qualified for the NCAA Regional meet in their respective events and travel to Iowa with the goal of improving their marks facing off against tougher competition.

The Irish will also use this weekend to get some of their athletes some much needed rest after competing at meets in each of the past two of weekends.

“This is a really tough time of year for most students with finals approaching, and our athletes are no exception,” Connelly said. “Sometimes just a weekend of not traveling pays big dividends. Many of our kids have traveled and competed a lot in recent weeks.”

Looking ahead to the Big East meet next week, Connelly has a simple goal for his team: improvement.

“We hope to improve on our indoor finish at the conference meet, with a top three finish our ultimate goal,” Connelly said. “With such a young group, that would be a nice improvement.”