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ND Track and Field: Indoor season begins with Blue-Gold Meet

Laura Myers | Friday, December 5, 2008

The Irish begin their indoor season Friday with a meet that will have big implications.

Notre Dame hosts Big East rivals DePaul and Marquette as well as Detroit-Mercy in the Blue and Gold Meet at the Loftus Center.

It is the only meet in December for the Irish, giving it added meaning heading into winter break.

“The real purpose of this meet is to have something before the semester ends,” coach Joe Piane said. “Most of these kids have been working since September, and it’s nice to get an early start.”

Along with being the team’s first test, times gained today can help individuals qualify for the Big East championship meet in February.

“We use this meet as a motivator,” Piane said. “If the athletes do qualify, we can use those times as a starting point. If they don’t qualify, we can use it as a motivation to really work hard over break and at the next meets.”

At the 2007 Blue and Gold Meet, more than 40 Big East qualifying times were reached.

The field events open with women’s high jump and men’s pole vault at 5 p.m.

Junior Matt Schipper looks to continue his improvement from the 2007-2008 indoor season, when he won the Blue and Gold meet with a vault of 4.75 meters and finished with a ninth-place vault of 5.06 meters at the NCAA regionals. He’s also earned all-conference twice.

“Matt Schipper is great, he’s a 17-foot vaulter for us,” Piane said.

Senior Mary Saxer enters the meet as Notre Dame’s top woman pole vaulter. She won the 2008 outdoor title, setting a new school record with a 4.06-meter vault.

The track events begin at 6 p.m. with the men’s and women’s 60-meter hurdles, with distance and sprint events alternating after that.

Junior Joanna Schulz enters as a top sprinter for the Irish. She finished seventh in the 400 meters at the Big East indoor championships in 2008, and earned two all-Big East honors at the outdoor championships, finishing third in the 400 meters and second as a part of the 4 x 400 meter relay.

Senior distance runner Patrick Smyth, who finished his cross-country career with a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, will look for his third track and field All-American honor this season. Smyth finished eighth in the 5000-meter run at the national outdoor track finals last season.

Notre Dame also brings back some notable multi-event athletes.

Senior Alyissa Hasan finished the 2007-2008 indoor season at the NCAA Championships, where she broke the school record in the pentathlon and became Notre Dame’s first multi-event All-American with a ninth-place finish. She finished 15th in the heptathlon at the outdoor national championships.

Sophomore Justin Schneider earned all-conference accolades a freshman, finishing second in the heptathlon at the Big East indoor championships and second in the decathlon at the Big East outdoor championships.

“We have a lot of really good kids, there’s no doubt,” Piane said. “It’s impossible to name them all.”