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Track and Field

Irish finish third at Illini Classic, prepare for competitive Notre Dame Invitational

| Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Competing just once over winter break, Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams each recorded a third-place finish at the Illini Classic on Saturday at the University of Illinois-Armory. After a six-week hiatus from competition, the Irish viewed the meet as merely a re-introduction to the indoor season, Irish head coach Alan Turner said.

“I don’t think any of the teams were really trying to go after the win — if that was the case, then we would’ve loaded up everybody in every event,” Turner said. “For us, it was just getting back in the swing of things. The athletes came back [the Monday before] and we were competing on Saturday, so we were going to see some of the worst marks of the year.”

Despite the low expectations coming into the meet, many Notre Dame athletes put forth strong performances, as the Irish recorded first-place finishes in three individual events. On the women’s side, senior Indi Jackson won the shot put with a throw of 14.80 meters, while seniors Jacob Dumford and Patrick O’Connell finished first in the 800-meter and 600-meter events, respectively, for the men’s team.

“We always want to see that competitive effort,” Turner said. “We didn’t bring a lot of distance runners, but for the sprinters, jumpers, throwers and middle-distance people we did bring, I think for the most part we competed pretty well, especially our men’s middle distance — [Dumford] and [O’Connell] ran very well.”

With their feet wet again from competition, Turner and the Irish now transition their focus towards the Notre Dame Invitational. Taking place Saturday, the Irish will host DePaul, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina and Virginia in a meet where Notre Dame has traditionally invited smaller, in-state schools in order to further ease into the indoor season. However, since the Irish are hosting the ACC Championships this year, several ACC schools wanted a preview of the facility, and thus, according to Turner, the Irish face their first real test of the young season earlier than usual.

“It’s going to be a very tough meet — this is when the real season begins,” Turner said. “It’s not going to be easy because these teams are pretty good, but most of the distance girls will be running, and all the sprinters, jumpers and throwers will be competing. So we still won’t be at full strength … but I think we should still do pretty well as a team. This meet will probably set the tone for the rest of our indoor season, so hopefully we can set a good tone on Saturday.”

Although the Notre Dame Invitational is still an early season meet with minor significance in the long run, Turner believes the way the Irish compete Saturday could set them up for larger success in the long run.

“I think it’s very important that my team knows that North Carolina is tough, Louisville is tough [and] Virginia is tough,” Turner said. “These are all well-rounded programs, and so is our program, so I think us having a very good showing against those teams is going to bode well for our confidence going forward.”

The Notre Dame Invitational will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Loftus Sports Center.

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a senior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. In addition to formerly serving as Sports Editor at The Observer, Joe is a RA in Stanford Hall and a past champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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