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Track and Field

Notre Dame prepares for Blue and Gold Invitational

| Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Irish will host their annual Blue & Gold Invitational on Friday afternoon in an early warmup meet before the season gets in full swing in January. Notre Dame will host the likes of Bethel, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Marquette and Valparaiso.

Loftus Sports Center will be the site of a 20-event meet that starts with the long jump and ends with the 4×400 meter relay. The first running event will begin at 6 p.m. with the women’s 60-meter hurdles preliminary race.

Irish head coach Matt Sparks, in his first year in the position and fifth as a coach at Notre Dame, said the Blue & Gold Invitational is a great event to test the fitness of the athletes. In addition, the event will serve as a barometer of the progress that the new coaching staff has made with the athletes. The new coaching staff includes Kendra Foley, Wayne Pate and Rodney Zuyderwyk, who work as the assistant coaches for men’s distance, women’s distance and jumps, respectively. Volunteer assistant coach Cole Hester is also in his first season with the Irish.

“This is a good chance for the new coaching staff to get to know the athletes in a competitive situation and for the athletes themselves, to see the benefits of a long-haul conditioning period,” Sparks said. “They’ve been training for the last three or four months, just competing with each other in practice. This is a chance for them to actually get out and compete against someone in a different jersey versus working against your teammates every day like they have in the past three or four months.”

Sparks said the meet will showcase the coaches’ hard work over the last few months.

“These coaches and athletes have had three or four months now to get to know each other as people,” he said. “[The new coaches’] training philosophies probably aren’t drastically different from the athletes’ previous training situations. It’s just different people leading the charge and what their coaching cues are.”

After Friday’s meet, the Irish won’t compete again until Jan. 12, when they travel to the annual Gene Edmonds Open at Purdue. Sparks said he hopes this break between meets will motivate his athletes to keep working hard on improving.

“I feel like this week is, in some ways, a bit of an exhibition for everyone to see what their situation is in terms of how their fitness grew in the fall,” Sparks said. “And then hopefully [that will] motivate them to train for the next six weeks while they’re working through finals and away for Christmas break. It’ll be a chance for them to hopefully motivate themselves by their competitive situation this weekend to keep working hard while they step away a little bit during Christmas break.”

The Blue & Gold Invitational starts at 4 p.m.

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