March 12, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind.— The University of Notre Dame track & field program will send seven of its most elite athletes (six women, one man) to compete Friday and Saturday at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
It will be the second trip of the season to the Randal Tyson Track Center for the Irish, who competed at the Razorback Invitational in January. Located at the University of Arkansas, the 200-meter track features a steep bank, resulting in fast times, particularly in sprint events.
Head coach Alan Turner has high hopes for his contingent at the championships and he expects each to compete for first-team All-America recognition (top 8 finish). The Irish women will feature three individuals and one relay team, while Chris Giesting will compete in the individual 400 meters on the men’s side.
Here’s a look at what to expect from each Irish competitor this weekend:
Margaret Bamgbose, 400 meters, DMR: As a junior, Bamgbose has impressed in open 400-meter races this season, and will aim to add an indoor 400-meter All-America honor to her two outdoor decorations. She has twice broken the Notre Dame record in the event this year, most recently in her Atlantic Coast Conference championship performance at Virginia Tech on February 28, also securing a meet record. With a favorable steep banked track at the Randal Tyson Track Center, Turner expects Bamgbose to dip under the 52-second mark, likely resulting in another All-American performance. Bamgbose will also run the 400-meter leg of the women’s distance medley relay.
“If she gets out in the first 200 (meters), she can place very, very high,” Turner said. “This is her first time in the individual 400 indoors, but she’s healthy, confident and ready to go. I would not be surprised if she runs under 52 seconds, and there hasn’t been anyone to finish under 52 seconds that hasn’t finished top 4 in the country. So, if she can do that, she should come back with a very high place.”
Seed place: 7th
Seed time: 52.10
Molly Seidel, 5,000 meters: Coming off a phenomenal performance at the ACC Championships in which she won both the 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter races for Most Valuable Track Performer honors, Seidel is again expected to make a splash, but this time at the national level. Her first taste came in the fall with an All-American cross country season, though with just 16 competitors in the field at the track & field championships, the stakes will be much higher to earn a first-team commendation. Turner noted the tactical nature of distance track events, however, which can result in slower races and even the playing field, increasing Seidel’s odds for a first-team honor and even a national championship.
“Molly has just been great for us this year, and she’s ready to go at the right time,” Turner said. “A lot of the women that are coming in, they’ve run their best times earlier in the year, but she’s just getting better and better, so she’s definitely going to be in the hunt. We think she’s another one that’s going to be first-team All-American.”
Seed place: 12th
Seed time: 15:54.45
Jade Barber, 60-meter hurdles: Barber has been the most consistent student-athlete over the course of her career, and she’s making her third trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships to compete in the 60-meter hurdles. A two-time All-American in the event and six-time honoree overall, Barber will look to bust out of a slump that has kept her from nearing her personal best times this season (she owns the school record of 8.09, but has only hit 8.20 this year). After spending the past several weeks tweaking her technique — pulling in her trail arm from out to the side into the back pocket and raising the knee of her trail leg — Turner expects Barber to be back among the nation’s top eight.
“We’ve made a lot of corrections the past couple weeks in her technique, and if she does what she’s been doing in the last week of practice, she’s as good as anyone in the meet,” Turner said. “She’ll be one of the ones competing for the title.”
Seed place: 13th
Seed time: 8.20
Distance Medley Relay (Bamgbose, Jessica Harris, Samantha Murray, Danielle Aragon): Harris and Murray will get their first taste of NCAA Championship action, while Bamgbose and Aragon will provide a veteran presence. The quartet ran together for the first time at the Alex Wilson Invitational on February 21, but will look to give the Irish their third straight All-America citation in the distance medley relay. Turner believes the key will be in Harris opening the race among the leaders, Murray holding the Irish position in the 800 and Aragon continuing her recent string of PRs in the mile. Aragon, a two-time All-American in the DMR, gave up her spot in the women’s individual mile to compete in the relay for the Irish.
“The rankings don’t mean as much in this race as in a lot of the others because a lot of times it will be a tactical race and come down the anchor leg,” Turner said. “If Jessica gets out (in the 1,200 meters) and we’re among the leaders, we’re going to have a good race. … Dani’s run the best she’s run of her life, so if she gets the baton in there with the leaders, the race becomes pretty wide open.”
Seed place: 5th
Seed time: 11:01.59
Chris Giesting, 400 meters: Returning from a hip flexor injury sustained in a late January practice, the seven-time All-American will look to complete the hat trick with his third straight All-America time in the indoor 400 meters. Giesting has progressed in his recovery each week, according to Turner, including an All-ACC performance with a second-place finish in the event at the conference championships two weeks ago. Turner expects the senior to be back in top form and helped by the steeply banked track at Arkansas.
“He wasn’t 100 percent at the ACC Championships, but each day he’s getting better and better,” Turner said. “The timing is working out pretty good for him. He’s had a good last couple weeks of practice, so he’s ready to run. He’s going to have to put together two really hard, solid races (in the preliminaries and finals) if he’s going to have a good showing, but he’s proven that when he’s healthy, he’s as good as anybody.”
Seed place: 9th
Seed time: 45.98
6:30 p.m. EDT — 60-meter hurdles preliminaries
6:55 p.m. — 400 meter preliminaries
8:25 p.m. — 5,000 meter finals
9:05 p.m. — Distance medley relay finals
7:10 p.m. — 400 meter preliminarie
6:20 p.m. — 60-meter hurdles finals
6:40 p.m. — 400 meter finals
6:50 p.m. — 400 meter finals
Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant