Track and Field
Irish face tough field in New Mexico Invitational
Evan Anderson | Thursday, January 30, 2014
Notre Dame travels to Albuquerque on Friday for the New Mexico Team Invitational, a two-day event with a strong nine-team field that coach Joe Piane said would serve as an early test for his squad.
“If we want to view ourselves as a national-class team, we have to compete at a national-class level,” Piane said. “It’s no different than a basketball team; if you can compete against some [teams] in the preseason, that’s fine … but what really counts is when you go up against that top class of teams.”
The Irish enter the meet coming off a strong performance on their home track at last Saturday’s Notre Dame Invitational.
The Irish women earned six first-place finishes en route to a team win in the home event, its second in as many years. Notre Dame edged Michigan State by just six points behind a strong performance from junior Jade Barber, among others, who won the 60-meter hurdles (8.24 seconds), finished second in the 60-meter dash (7.64) and ran a strong opening leg for the 4×400-meter relay that took home another gold.
Sophomore Margaret Bamgbose had a big day as well, winning the 400-meter dash (54.08) and running the anchor leg in the 4×400-meter. Piane also credited junior Emily Morris’s second-place finish in the shot put (15.45 meters) and junior Carly Loeffel’s third-place finish in the high jump (1.70 meters) for helping the Irish pull out a narrow victory.
The Notre Dame men also performed well at the Notre Dame Invitational, finishing second to Michigan State by just six points. The Irish earned seven first-place finishes, two of which were particularly notable. In his first race of the indoor season, graduate student Jeremy Rae broke a 14-year-old Notre Dame record with his victory in the 1000-meter run (2:22.07). Senior and two-time All-American Patrick Feeney also had a huge day, winning the 400-meter by nearly two seconds. His time of 46.38 seconds qualified as the fourth-best nationally this season.
Afterwards, Piane said he felt his team was poised for a successful couple of weeks in New Mexico this weekend and back at Notre Dame for the Meyo Invitational in early February.
“I feel great about the team,” Piane said Sunday. “I am confident we are going to do well across the board.”
The field in New Mexico consists of eight nonconference foe: Air Force, Arizona State, LSU, Nebraska, New Mexico, TCU, UCLA and Utah State. That slate includes two top-25 opponents on both the men’s and women’s sides and makes for the strongest competition either side has faced in the young indoor season.
The Jan. 28 release of the U.S. Track & Field computer rankings placed the LSU men just outside the top 25 and the Arizona State and Nebraska men at No. 11 and No. 9, respectively. On the women’s side, LSU checked in at No. 8 nationally while Arizona State was ranked No. 22.
Piane said his team would relish the opportunity to race against some of the top teams in the nation.
“We are competing against some of the very best teams in the country,” Piane said. “With LSU and Arizona State, Nebraska and UCLA, New Mexico … can it get any better than that? I don’t think so.”
Notre Dame will compete in Albuquerque on Friday and Saturday. The Irish will also send some runners to the Indiana Relays in Bloomington, Ind., on Friday and Saturday.
Contact Evan Anderson at [email protected]