Track and Field
Meyo Invite draws top competition
Marek Mazurek | Friday, February 5, 2016
Notre Dame kicks off its most popular event of the year Friday when it hosts the Meyo Invitational.
In addition to drawing top athletes from around the country, the Meyo Invitational will have added significance this year as Irish head coach Alan Turner said he expects many of his athletes to embrace the high-profile competition.
“Traditionally at this point in the season, athletes from here on out are probably going to run faster until the ACC championships,” Turner said. “With the level of competition that we have coming in this point in the season, I’m expecting all my athletes to get a season’s best this weekend. If they’re not at a season’s best, they should be very close to it.”
Some of the runners Turner said he hopes perform well are freshmen standouts Annie Heffernan, Anna Rohrer and Rachel DaDamio. All three will be racing in the meet’s signature event, the Meyo Mile.
“Anna, that’s not her main event, she’s better at the longer stuff, the 10,000-meters, 5,000 and 3,000,” Turner said. “So it’s going to be a test for her and Annie [Heffernan] as well. Now Rachel [DaDamio], she’s a better miler than the other two on paper, but we’ll see what happens.”
The three freshman were all part of Notre Dame’s cross country team that finished eighth at the NCAA championships, and Turner said he hopes their experience in the cross country season prepares them for the crowd noise that comes with the Meyo Mile.
“These type of meets where it’s going to be packed, we’re expecting over a thousand athletes and a thousand fans or so in [Loftus Sports Complex],” Turner said. “The crowd’s going to be right on top of them, they spill over onto the track in lanes five and six… If you can handle the crowd here and the competition here, you will definitely be ready for the ACC and the NCAA meets down the line. And these are girls who have already been to an NCAA championship in cross country, so they’re used to crowds being right next to them when they’re running on the course.”
The Meyo Invitational also marks the return to the track for reigning cross country and outdoor 10,000-meter run national champion Molly Seidel. After winning the cross country championship in the fall, Turner decided to rest the senior for the first few meets of the season, but he said he is excited to see her in action again in the 3,000-meter run this weekend.
“Molly’s in just great shape,” Turner said. “Every time she’s on the track we expect fireworks, and she’s done that ever since the NCAA outdoor championships last year. I think she’s going to have an awesome race.”
In the field events, the Irish are looking for big performances from a number of athletes including junior pole vaulter Nate Richartz, freshman high jumper Matthew Birzer and junior weight thrower Anthony Shivers. Turner said he wants a big performance from Shivers in particular.
“If he’s going to be anywhere near the top three or four guys, [Shivers] is going to have to throw 20 meters,” Turner said. “We’ve got a bunch of athletes coming here for the throws that are very good. Purdue’s got a great thrower, Michigan State has a great thrower, so Anthony’s going to have to step it up just a notch.”
Another athlete Turner has his eye on is graduate student Kaila Barber in the 60-meter hurdles. Barber finished first in the event last week at the Indiana Relays, but at the Meyo Invitational Turner said she will face tough competition, including her sister, Jade, a three-time All American who graduated from the University in 2015.
“[Barber’s] going to be in one of the toughest events,” Turner said. “The women’s hurdles is stacked. Cindy Ofili from Michigan has the fastest time in the country for NCAA runners, she’s here. And Kaila’s sister Jade, she’s going to be running as well. [Jade Barber] is a three-time All-American in the hurdles. Last week at a meet in Canada, she ran 8.11 [seconds]. Kaila’s going to have to run pretty fast to win it.”
The Meyo Invitational starts Friday at 4 p.m. and continues on Saturday with the Meyo Mile tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m.