In its inaugural season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame’s men’s track team came away with two third-place showings in the BIG EAST indoor and outdoor championships. Head coach Joe Piane, in his 22nd year at the helm, has his sights set on a higher finish with a solid group of returners and a talented freshman class. “We were pleased with third place last season,” says Piane. “At the same time, we know that we can be even more competitive in the conference this season and we will be working on higher scores in the 1997 track season.”
Troy Langevine (Scarborough, Ontario) enters his senior season as the most experienced Irish sprinter. “Troy has had a great summer of training and will be a big contributor in his senior year,” says sprints and hurdles coach John Millar. “We will really need him to be a scorer for us.” Junior Danny Payton (Las Vegas, Nev.) looks to return to the track after not competing in 1996. He gave the Irish some impressive results as a freshman in 1995 in the 400 meters. Payton was a double winner in the outdoor season and ran a season best 47.47 at the Central Collegiates. “Danny Payton has the potential to qualify for the NCAA championships,” says Millar. “He will surely help us this year, particularly in the BIG EAST meets in both the 400 and 800 meters and in the mile relay.” Millar is also expecting reliable results from freshman Chris Cochran (Crystal Lake, Ill.) who comes to Notre Dame as two-time all-state selection and track athlete of the year at Crystal Lake High School. “Chris Cochran can be someone who can help us out in the 400 meters this years,” says Millar. The Irish will also look to the gridiron for more sprinters. Track All-Americans Randy Kinder and Allen Rossum and Bobby Brown are the trio of football players that Millar is counting on. “Obviously, the addition of these football players would be a tremendous boost to our team,” says Millar who is entering his seventh year as sprints and hurdles coach. “They would certainly help us to be more competitive.” Kinder (East Lansing, Mich.) will look to rejoin the team after not competing in 1995 and 1996. He set a Notre Dame indoor record in the 200 meters when he ran a 20.11 in a 1994 dual meet versus Drake. Kinder went on to earn All-America honors in 1994 at the NCAA indoor championships when he finished 10th in the 200 meters. Rossum (Dallas, Texas) did not compete in 1996 but was an All-America in 1995. As the only freshman to make the finals, he finished seventh at the NCAA indoor championships in the 55 meters with a time of 6.29. Rossum ran his fastest time of 6.23 in winning the 55 meters at the MCC championships. Brown (Lauderhill, Fla.) saw limited time last season as a freshman but was promising as he ran in the 400 meters in 49.91 at the Cannon IV Classic.
Junior Errol Williams (Lauderhill, Fla.) should star once again for the Irish in the hurdle events. Williams finished fifth in the 55-meter hurdles indoors and eighth in the 400-meter hurdles outdoors at the BIG EAST championships. He ran his best 55-meter hurdles at the Butler Open in 7.30, just off the school record of 7.29 set in 1987 by Glenn Watson. “Errol Williams is very good at the 100-meter hurdles,” says Millar. “We are going to put more emphasis on the 400-meter hurdles because he can be very, very good at that event. He is really looking forward to next year. Errol has the potential to qualify for the NCAA championships in both the 100 and 400-meter hurdles.” Also helping out at the hurdle events will be junior Kevin Reher (Sarasota, Fla.). Reher has impressed Millar with his work effort. He cut .20 seconds off his time in the 55-meter hurdles from his freshman year to his sophomore year. Reher had his best time of 7.60 in the 55-meter hurdles with a fifth-place showing at the Butler Open. “Kevin Reher has done a great job improving every year,” says Millar. “He will be a solid backup to Errol Williams and will also give us depth in the 200 meters.”
Senior Jeff Hojnaki (Solon, Ohio) will carry the load in the middle distance races once again in 1997. Hojnaki was the BIG EAST indoor champion in 1996 in the 1000 meters with a time of 2:27.39. He also captured the 1000 meters at the Meyo Invitational with a season-best time of 2:26.32. In the outdoor season, Hojnaki had two second-place finishes in the 800 meters at the Miami Invitational and the Stanford Invitational where he ran a season-best time of 1:50.49. Hojnaki won the 1500 meters at the Miami Invitational with a time of 3:51.22. “Jeff has really been one of our most consistent middle-distance runners over the last couple of years,” says Piane. “We are counting on him to continue to give us these good results that we have come to expect from Jeff.” Also expected to contribute in the middle distances are sophomores Dan Ambrico (Altamonte Springs, Fla.), Tim Mousaw (Queensbury, N.Y.) and freshman Phil Mishka (Toledo, Ohio).
The talented group of runners that make up the cross country team should transfer their efforts to the oval and give Notre Dame a solid group of distance runners once again. “In track, if we are going to do well in the BIG EAST championships and be represented in the NCAAs, we will need our distance runners to produce major contributions,” says Piane. Junior Jason Rexing (Pickerington, Ohio) returns this year after becoming Notre Dame’s second consecutive All-American in the 10,000 meters, after Mike McWilliams earned the same honors in 1995. Rexing finished 13th at the NCAA outdoor championships in a time of 30:12.09. He was also honored at the BIG EAST outdoor championships as the meet’s most outstanding performer by winning both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter titles. Rexing also won the 5,000 meters at the BIG EAST indoor championships. Seniors Matt Althoff (Yankton, S.D.), Joe Dunlop (Grand Island, N.Y.) and Derek Seiling (Allison Park, Pa.) should give the Irish more high finishes. Althoff placed fifth and sixth in the 5,000 meters at the BIG EAST indoor and outdoor championships, respectively. Dunlop placed ninth in the 5,000 meters at the BIG EAST indoor championships. Seiling was sixth in the 3,000 meters at the BIG EAST indoor championships and fifth in the outdoor conference meet in the steeplechase. Field Events
Notre Dame seniors Dave Gerrity (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Mike Fleisch (Milwaukee, Wisc.) return for the field events after posting some impressive results in 1996. Gerrity set a school record in the pole vault on his way to winning the BIG EAST outdoor title. Gerrity vaulted 16-10.75 to shatter the old outdoor school mark of 16-6 by Paul Doyle set back in 1982. He also placed second at the IC4A championships with a vault of 16-8.75. “Last year, Dave Gerrity really showed the improvements that he had made in the off season,” says jumping and throwing coach Scott Winsor. “He should be even more improved this year and should now challenge the indoor pole vault school record.” Notre Dame also will have the services of sophomore Michael Brown (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.). Brown highlighted his first season with a third-place showing at the BIG EAST championships by recording the best Irish pole vault in the indoor season at 16-2.75. He added two second places in the outdoor season as well. Another BIG EAST champion, Fleisch will return for a fifth year in the shot put in the outdoor season. He set the BIG EAST record of 59-6.25 on his way to the indoor BIG EAST title, in addition to winning the Meyo Invitational, the Butler Open and the DePaul Invitational. Fleisch qualified for the NCAA championships and despite dislocating his shoulder the day before the competition, he nearly made the finals as he finished 13th with a season-high throw of 59-11.5. Another specialist in the throws, junior Jay Hofner (Wheaton, Ill.) should give Notre Dame more quality performances like he displayed in 1996. Hofner finished sixth in the hammer throw in the outdoor season with a season-long throw of 166-4. He also registered three top 10 results in the indoor season in the 35 lb. weight throw. Junior Chris Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa.) impressed the coaches a year ago with his dramatic improvements in the javelin. Smith won two events last year at the Miami Invitational and the Michigan State Sports Festival with a season-best throw of 191-11. He also took third in the javelin at the BIG EAST championships. “Chris Smith was really a pleasant surprise for us last year,” says Winsor. “He is a perfect example of how talent along with hard work can produce great results.” Junior Dan Frigo (Downers Grove, Ill.) should be Notre Dame’s top high jumper and sophomore Scott Schargen (Staten Island, N.Y.) will help Notre Dame in the multi-events with his throws. After the graduation of Lamarr Justice, Winsor will be looking to freshman Marshaun West (Sikeston, Mo.) in the horizontal jumps. “Marshaun West will help us tremendously in the horizontal jumps,” says Winsor. “He has long jumped 24-2 in the past so he will contribute immediately.”