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Irish run away in Blue and Gold meet

Laura Myers | Monday, December 8, 2008

Though it’s only early December, the Irish have visions of championships in their heads.

Senior pole vaulter Mary Saxer qualified for a bid to the NCAA Championships and Notre Dame won 27 of 32 events Friday in its first meet of the indoor season at the Blue and Gold Invitational in the Loftus Center.

Saxer won the pole vault with a height of four meters, which was good enough for a trip to nationals.

“She has been working quite hard this year, and she deserves it,” coach Joe Piane said. “I’ll be anxious to see how high she goes. That’s just the beginning for her.”

The Irish also qualified for the Big East Championships in 50 events based on Friday’s marks.

“That was our objective, to get as many people qualified as we could,” said Piane. “That was a great way to end the semester, with 50 kids all set and not having to worry about qualifying for the Big East anymore.”

Notre Dame had an athlete in the top five in its events at the meet, which was against Big East rivals DePaul and Marquette as well as Detroit Mercy.

In the men’s pole vault, senior Matt Schipper came in first place with a vault of 4.95 meters, and his brother, freshman Kevin Schipper, finished second with a vault of 4.8 meters. Both Schippers qualified for the Big East tournament, as did senior Tray Morgan (4.50 m) and sophomore Justin Schneider (4.35 meters).

Schneider also placed first in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.48 and seventh in the shot put with a throw of 12.58 meters.

Senior Anna Weber qualified for the conference meet in the women’s weight throw, winning the event in dominating fashion with a throw of 18.31 meters. The second place finisher, Detroit Mercy’s Brittany Horne, had a throw of 15.75 meters. Weber also won the women’s shot put with a toss of 14.47 meters.

Notre Dame did well in the distance events. The women took eight of the top 10 spots in the 3000-meter race, with senior Heidi Rocha winning the event in the time of 10:00.31. The men took the top three spots in the 3,000-meter and six of the top seven in the 5,000-meter. Senior Daniel Clark finished first in the 3,000 with a time of 8:14.26. Senior Patrick Smyth finished second in that event and first in the 5,000, with times of 8:28.47 and 14:21.39, respectively.

Piane said the team will continue to work on fitness over winter break, but will not be coming back early for practice.

“We’ll train this week, and then take a break once classes end [on Thursday],” he said. “A few kids will come back a day or two early, but mostly it will be a full break. Our schedule goes until June, so there’s really no reason to bring people back early to train.”

The team will be back in action at the Indiana Opener in Bloomington, Ind. on Jan. 10, and will have their next home meet at the Notre Dame Indoor Opener on Jan. 16.

“We hope to pick up right where we left off,” Piane said.