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Track and Field: Irish host Louisville, Michigan State in Invite

Kaitlyn Murphy | Friday, January 22, 2010

Notre Dame hopes to repeat as men’s and women’s champions as it hosts the Notre Dame Invitational Saturday.

The Irish will face Big East powerhouse Louisville and Big Ten top-competitor Michigan State. Both teams have proved themselves to be formidable opponents in track and field events in the past.

Junior thrower John Belcher said the meet has an intense and competitive nature as it marks the start of top-level spring competition.

“In my experience, for the field events this is a upper echelon meet for our conference,” Belcher said. “There is always a great competitive atmosphere.”

Last Friday Notre Dame hosted the Notre Dame Indoor Opener, and although the meet did not include team scoring, the Irish had many outstanding performances throughout the night.

Irish coach Joe Piane said last week’s meet was all about “looking to see what kind of shape these men and women are in.”

After proving to be strong competitors, the team hopes to continue to win meets and have as many individuals as possible qualify for both the Big East and NCAA Championships.

The Irish will look to standout performers from last weekend’s Notre Dame Indoor Opener. Freshman sprinter Nevada Sorenson will look for her second indoor first place finish this season in the 60-meter hurdles. The men’s counterpart, junior Justin Schneider, will also look to repeat last week’s first place finish.

The team will also depend on their dominant mid-distance runners, senior Cameron Eckert, sophomore Randall Babb and freshman Trent Sayers in the 1,000- meter race.
In the field events, the team anticipates a continuance of the first and second place finishes that brothers Kevin and Matt Schipper have delivered in the past. In the women’s field events, pole-vaulters freshman Chrissy Finkel and junior Jessica Sullivan hope to repeat their Big East qualifying performances from last weekend.

Piane said the Irish hope for a successful, and prolonged, season.

“We want to make it to the Big East and win,” he said. “That is certainly our goal in the short term. For the long term, we want to send as many individual men and women and relay teams as possible to the NCAA Tournament.”

The Notre Dame Invitational will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Loftus Sports Center.