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ND Track and Field: Irish shuffle lineup for Ole Miss

Michael Blasco | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Notre Dame will look to continue its run of solid outdoor showings as the spring season rolls on at the Ole Miss Invitational in Oxford, Miss. The strong field will provide a stiff challenge to a reshuffled Irish lineup.

Irish coach Joe Piane, in preparation for a meet at St. Antonio College in Los Angeles early next week, will field a depleted lineup for the Ole Miss competition.

“We’ll do fine,” Piane said. “We’re taking some kids and putting them in places they haven’t really competed in before. We’re going to get a few more people qualified and prepared for the Big East [Tournament]. That’s our goal. That’s our focus, and then after that we’ll try to get some more people into the NCAAs.”

Still, the competition at Ole Miss will not let Notre Dame pick up any easy wins. A deep and talented field, headed by host Mississippi, will lineup against the Irish.

“The Ole Miss [Invitational] should be a pretty solid meet,” Piane said. “Obviously we’re looking out for Mississippi, among some others. It’ll be a very good meet with great competition in a great venue.”

The event comes after a strong opening to the outdoor season for Notre Dame, who took nine individual events at the Mike Pohlein Invitational last week.

In the women’s 10,000-meter race, sophomore Erica Watson finished first with a time of 36:48, and teammates Emily Wauford and Kari Johnson finished second and third, giving the Irish a sweep of the top spots.

Freshman Natalie Geiger also had an impressive weekend, winning the 400 and finishing fourth in the 200 sprints.

For the men, first place finishes went to the 4×400 relay team and also to freshman Jonathan Rincon in the 800.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have put up strong numbers in the wake of an indoor campaign that produced two Irish All-Americans.