Track and Field
Blue and Gold kicks off 2015-2016 campaign
Marek Mazurek | Friday, December 4, 2015
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the track and field season as the Irish host the Blue and Gold Invitational at Loftus Sports Center.
Though the bulk of the indoor track season will come in January and February, Irish head coach Alan Turner said he is excited to see what his team can do in a competitive setting this weekend.
“I’m looking to see where my team is at and their fitness level,” Turner said, “This serves a couple purposes. Number one, just to gauge where we’re at as a team in an actual competition. … I have to stress with the kids, ‘This is a real competition, not an exhibition.’
“Obviously we don’t have to move mountains and set records, that’s not the goal here. I just want to see where we’re at before the break to confirm what we’ve been seeing in training and just break up the monotony of running against ourselves for the past three months.”
Competing against the Irish at the meet will be a number of schools from the midwest including Bethel, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Marquette and Northern Illinois. Turner said he is hoping for a high volume of first-place finishes from his team, but he still expects the meet to be competitive.
“I think we’re going to come away with a lot of first places,” Turner said. “This isn’t a knock on the DePaul, Marquette, Illinois, Detroit Mercy and Bethel. Their kids are going to come ready to compete. It’s like when we compete in any sport at Notre Dame: When you come to Notre Dame, when you face Notre Dame, we’re getting the best out of our opponents.”
The Irish return 11 of their 15 All-Americans from last season, including senior Molly Seidel, the women’s 10,000-meter national champion, and junior Margaret Bamgbose, who finished sixth nationally in the 400-meter dash. Turner, however said Seidel, who won the NCAA cross country championship on Nov. 21, and most of Notre Dame’s top track performers will not participate in the meet.
“Most of our distance kids are not going to run, especially ones that ran cross country,” Turner said. “A bulk of the team on the track will be our mid-distance guys and girls and our short sprinters and obviously our throwers and jumpers. … Margaret Bamgbose, we’re just going to put her in the 60-meter dash, she’s a first-time All-American in the 400-meters. We are kind of taking it easy with the superstar kids so to speak. Let them still get training in during the break.”
The “superstar kids” like Seidel and Bamgbose will be key to Notre Dame’s success this season as the women’s team looks to improve on a fifth place finish at the ACC outdoor championships last season. Turner said the Irish will look to use Seidel’s recent national championship in cross country to give to give the team momentum for the track season.
“[The women’s team] finished the 2015 season on a very high note, finishing 13th in the NCAA championships and Molly winning the national championship in the 10,000-meters,” Turner said. “That’s kind of carried on with cross country on the women’s side. We had that great freshman recruiting class, we had two first team All-Americans in cross and Molly again, another national championship. And we finished top-10, which was one of our goals. …
“So we want to keep this momentum going and the key for me and my staff is keeping our kids, the ones we know that are going to nationals … keeping those young ladies fresh and healthy, and I think we’re going to have another record-setting year. I definitely think we can be a top-10 team indoor and outdoor.”
The Irish men finished ninth at last year’s ACC outdoor championship, and Turner said the men’s team is eager for a bounce-back year.
“On the men’s side, last year we had so many freak injuries here and there, and we were trying to rebuild,” Turner said. “The men’s cross country team started off slowly, but they finished the season very, very well. … Their confidence is very high. Our men’s team has had a pretty good fall so far, so I’m anxious to see what they can do.”
The Blue and Gold Invitational starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Loftus Sports Complex.