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Track and Field

Irish set to open outdoor season at Victor Lopez Invitational

| Friday, March 22, 2019

After the conclusion of the indoor track season saw the men’s distance medley relay (DMR) team capture the program’s fourth indoor national championship two weeks ago in Birmingham, Alabama, Notre Dame will transition to the outdoor season of its 2019 spring campaign this weekend down in Houston.

Rice University will host the 37th-annual Victor Lopez Classic on its campus Friday and Saturday at the Wendel D. Ley Track and Holloway Field. Irish head coach Matt Sparks explained what purpose this meet will serve for the team as it transitions to the second half of its season.

Anna Mason | The Observer
Freshman Amani Morrell leads a pack of runners in the Meyo Invitational on Feb. 2.

“This is a bit of a warm-up for outdoor track,” Sparks said. “Most of the team hasn’t stepped foot on an outdoor track yet with the weather that we’ve had … so its their first time running on a 400-meter track versus an indoor track, so it’ll be a good taste for them running outside again.”

Sparks touched on who will be competing for the Irish at the Victor Lopez Classic, as well as what exactly will be different this outdoor season from an event standpoint.

“The distance runners are not competing this weekend — they’ll be competing next weekend at Raleigh and Stanford — but for the rest of the track team, it’s a chance for them to switch around in some events,” he said. “The throwers are going to transition to the throw and hammer, which is a slightly different skill set, so they’ll have to reinvent themselves a little bit come outdoor track, and similarly in other events. The javelin is an event that we’ve got a couple of really good underclassmen in … so we’ll see what their progression has been like since track last spring. Our hurdlers are running a different length, and we’ve had some success in the hurdles on the women’s side … so we’ll see what that experience will be like for them. One, we’ll experience getting outside for the first time, and two, there’s some variety of events that we haven’t been able to touch since we’ve been inside.”

In terms of a particular event group that could make some noise this spring, outside of the reliable distance team, Sparks said he is paying particular attention to the throwers.

“At the indoor conference meet, our men’s and women’s weight throwers — [junior] Logan Kusky and [sophomore] Rachel Tanczos — both were conference champions in the weight throw,” he said. “As [we] transition to outdoors, we expect those two in particular to do well, as well as five or six other athletes — people that we expect to be very competitive at the conference level. So we’re keeping an eye on them as we transition to a new set of events.”

However, the biggest focus for Notre Dame as it transitions from the indoor season will undoubtedly be how successfully it can handle the outside elements, especially when having to train in tough conditions.

“If you look at our schedule this time of year, you’ll see us traveling to Texas and California and the Carolinas, trying to make sure we get some better weather that we don’t really get to see a lot of in South Bend this time of year,” Sparks said. “Trying to get out of the elements as much as we can — we’re having to train in the elements here — so we’re trying to travel where the wind isn’t as bad and the cold isn’t as brutal, and that’ll give us a better indicator of everybody’s ability once we get out of the wind and cold.”

The Irish will look to both enjoy the Texas weather and kick the outdoor season off strong at the Victor Lopez Classic. Competition gets underway Friday at 6 p.m. before resuming on Saturday at noon.

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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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