Dec. 3, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In his second season at the helm of the Notre Dame track and field program, Alan Turner looks to continue the progression set forth in his introductory campaign. Armed with an experienced and solidified staff, Notre Dame begins the indoor portion of its season Friday with the 2015 edition of the Blue & Gold Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
The meet, which features a field of six teams, offers competitors and coaches a glimpse into the developments assembled during the fall training season. It also serves as the first opportunity for members of the Fighting Irish contingent to qualify for the premier conference showdown, the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships in Boston, Massachusetts.
Although focused on the season-opening meet, Turner is looking forward to the opportunities awaiting his Notre Dame squad.
“Our 2015-2016 schedule is one in which we will face old foes and new ones, as well as smaller meets to the nation’s biggest stages,” Turner said. “We’ll take our kids from coast-to-coast and challenge them in all event areas.
“We will again host four indoor competitions, with the first being the upcoming Blue & Gold Invitational,” Turner continued. “This is a somewhat low-key meet to gauge the fitness and sharpness of the student-athletes before finals and Christmas break.”
The Notre Dame track and field team is coming off a season in which the first individual national champion in women’s program history was crowned in the 10,000-meter event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Molly Seidel, a senior from Hartland, Wisconsin, recently followed up her title-winning performance on the track with a national championship in the women’s 6k event at the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Overall, the Notre Dame women’s track and field program earned its highest finish in history at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last season, placing 13th in the team standings. Along with Seidel’s championship, the Irish were propelled by top-eight performances by then senior Jade Barber in the 100-meter hurdles and returnee Margaret Bamgbose in the 400 meters.
The women’s contingent placed fifth at the ACC Outdoor Championships, following up a third-place showing at the ACC Indoor Championships.
On the men’s side, Notre Dame had six student-athletes qualify as individuals for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. As a team, the Fighting Irish were ninth at the ACC Outdoor Championships and 12th at the ACC Indoor Championships.
In all, 15 student-athletes represented Notre Dame as All-America honorees across both the men’s and women’s programs.
Following the Blue & Gold Invitational, the Fighting Irish will enjoy a short break for the holidays before returning to competition with the Wisconsin Open in Madison (Jan. 16). The Irish then host their second home meet of the indoor season on Jan. 23, the Notre Dame Invitational.
Also highlighting Notre Dame’s indoor home slate are the esteemed Meyo Invitational (Feb. 5-6) and Alex Wilson Invitational (Feb. 20).
“The Meyo Invitational again will be a big two-day competition with top Division I competitors, as well as post-collegiate athletes,” Turner said. “We conclude our home schedule with the top quality Alex Wilson Invitational, where athletes from coast-to-coast will be looking to secure NCAA qualification marks before their conference championships.”
An integral part of the tradition of the Notre Dame track and field program, Turner’s predecessor, Joe Piane, spoke with Jack Nolan, from Fighting Irish Media, on his founding role with the Meyo Invitational and Alex Wilson Invitational earlier this fall.
On the road, Notre Dame will visit quality facilities and strive to achieve strong marks at the Indiana University Relays (Jan. 29-30), Iowa State Classic (Feb. 12-13) and Spire D-I Invite (Feb. 12-13). The indoor season cumulates at the ACC Indoor Championships slated for Feb. 25-27 in Boston, Massachusetts, as well as the NCAA Indoor Championships, March 11-12, in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Fighting Irish will continue to be road warriors well into the outdoor portion of the schedule, as the Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina directly follows the indoor campaign, March 18-19.
“For the outdoor season, we’ll be chasing good weather early with great competitions at the Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, Yellow Jacket Invitational in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina,” Turner said.
In April, the squad will take their talents to the West Coast, as the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, California (April 1-2) and Sun Angel Track Classic in Tempe, Arizona (April 8-9) await the Irish. Hosted by Arizona State University, the Sun Angel Track Classic will feature 10 teams from the Power Five conferences.
The annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge will take place April 16 in Louisville, Kentucky, followed by the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville, Virginia (April 22-23), Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa (April 28-30) and Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (April 28-30).
“The Virginia Challenge at UVA is becoming a great meet for all event areas, with great competition from the Midwest and East Coast,” Turner said. “We are always looking forward to the big relay meets – Drake Relays and Penn Relays – to face the nations best in great races as we prepare for the outdoor championship season.”
Scheduled for May 14-16, Florida State University will serve as host of the ACC Outdoor Championships in Tallahassee, Florida. The NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida (May 26-28) will offer a precursor for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon (June 8-11).
“Our complete schedule is quality and action packed,” Turner concluded. “I can’t wait to get started on Friday.”
Field events will commence at 4:30 p.m. (ET), with running events following at 6 p.m. (ET). Competing teams include Notre Dame, Bethel, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Marquette and Northern Illinois.
Ashley Albertson, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, joined the Fighting Irish athletics communications team in August of 2015 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. Albertson is a 2013 graduate of The Ohio State University, where she also earned her master’s degree in 2014.