Feb. 19, 2016
By Lizzie Mikes
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame track and field teams will host their last indoor track meet of the season Saturday, welcoming programs from across the United States to the Alex Wilson Invitational.
The meet starts at 11 a.m. ET with the women’s 60-meter hurdles trials. Field events will run simultaneously, with the women’s weight throw first up. Live results will be available via deltatiming.com, with Flo Track streaming the meet.
JOINING THE RANKS
In the weekly poll released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), Notre Dame’s women’s team stands 15th in the national rankings. Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member schools ranked in the Top 25 include North Carolina State (8), Miami (16) and Duke (17). Overall, the ACC ranks second in the women’s Conference Index Top 10 list with 375.26 points, behind the South East Conference (SEC). The men’s team is not ranked.
IRISH IN THE INDIVIDUAL TOP 25
According to the Track & Field Reporting System (www.TFRRS.org), several Notre Dame athletes stand in the top 25 of their events. Margaret Bamgbose ranks eighth in the women’s 400-meters with her 52.52 time from the Meyo Invite. In the women’s 60-meter hurdles, Kaila Barber is currently fifth with her 8.14 mark (also ran at the Meyo meet).
In the distance races, Anna Rohrer (25th) and Molly Seidel (third) are also well on their way to qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championship. In the 3,000-meters, Seidel holds the top time with an 8:57.13 school record, while Rohrer’s fastest is 9:17.87. Both ladies also have top marks in the 5,000-meters, with Seidel standing ninth (time of 15:47.07) and Rohrer, 11th (time of 15:47.78) after last weekend’s Iowa State Classic.
Other top performers for the Irish include Carly Loeffel in the women’s indoor pentathlon and Nate Richartz in the men’s pole vault. Loeffel set a personal best at the SPIRE NCAA Div. I Indoor invitational, earning 4,019 points and ranks 17th. Richartz vaulted to a mark of 5.30 meters early in the year at the Notre Dame Invitational on January 23, and ranks 20th for his effort.
Notre Dame head coach Alan Turner had a few thoughts to offer up on this weekend’s meet.
Overall thoughts on the meet …
“With the meet being right before the conference championships, the field sizes will be smaller, but the quality at the top will be very good; especially in events where running on our large 320m track is an advantage. The times should be very fast in the 400m, 800m, mile and distance medley relays.”
On performance expectations for non-ACC athletes competing Saturday…
“With most Division I conference championships next week, most teams are resting their top athletes that are expected to compete and score in multiple events. In most situations where top athletes are competing this week, it’s a strategic race, to move up on the national list with hopes of being one of the top 16 in individual events or top 12 in relays. For us, the ACC limits squad sizes at 30 for their indoor championship. For athletes not competing at the ACC Championships, this is another opportunity for them to improve and hopefully qualify for the ACC meet. I’m specifically looking at my 800m group (both genders) to have a good showing Saturday. On the men’s team, Pat O’Connell, Kirk Hansen, Grant Koch and Andrew Stone have all shown great promise, but they all need to be more consistent. Eric Gebeke, one of our talented mid-distance runners, is out with injury. For the women, I’m looking for Jami Marvil, Samantha Murray, Alexis Daugherty and Kelly Hart to have good races.”
On competing in the Distance Medley Relay…
“The distance medley relay is one of the few events that is contested at the conference championships and NCAA Championships, but other than that isn’t run at many meets. If you have a great group of mid-distance runners, then you should have an excellent distance medley relay. On the women’s side we have been first team All-Americans for the last three years. We will be putting our best team on the track Saturday with Danielle Aragon on the 1200m leg, followed by Margaret Bamgbose on the 400m leg, then Jessica Harris running the 800m leg and anchored by Molly Seidel in the 1600m. This group should qualify for the NCAA meet and run in the 11:00 to 11:02 range. Our men’s team will also run the distance medley relay, but the goal here is to get a time fast enough to get us into the fast section next week at the ACC Championships.”
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The Notre Dame track and field program announced a generous $5.5 million gift from Notre Dame alumnus Robert H. Harris and his wife, Mary Ellen, to underwrite the construction of an outdoor stadium for the Irish.
The Harris Family Track and Field Stadium will be built on the west side of the nine-lane outdoor track and field facility in the southeast corner of the Notre Dame campus.
This gift, coupled with their previous donation in 2008 toward the completion of the track, will have a lasting impact on the transformation of the track and field program, said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame vice president and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics.
“We are grateful to Bob and Mary Ellen Harris for this generous gift that will enable us to make a major advancement in facilities for Notre Dame student-athletes in track and field,” said Swarbrick. “The creation of locker rooms and other team space surrounding the outdoor track will provide a first-class home for our men’s and women’s squads.In addition, we hope the future improvements to this facility will make it another wonderful resource for the greater South Bend community, much as the Compton Family Ice Arena has become.”
The facility complements the Loftus Sports Center, providing Notre Dame a standout setup, both indoors and outdoors. Home of the Meyo Invitational, the Loftus has been in use by the Irish since 1988 and still receives boastful complements from coaches, student-athletes and visitors.
“The great thing about Loftus is the track, which is the biggest available on a college campus,” Turner said. “Having that big track means you can have some pretty fast times due to the tight turns. The downside of our track is that the building was designed for football practice, so there isn’t a lot of bleacher space. However, we make up for that by allowing the fans to go all over the building. You can see the long jump, the hurdles and all the running events, literally within 10 feet of the athlete. You don’t get that in a lot of sports.
“With Loftus, it’s a great indoor facility. However, we are very excited about our new outdoor facility. It completes our package, so to speak. Once we get the outdoor track up and running, we can’t wait to host some premier outdoor meets as well.”
— ND —
Lizzie Mikes serves as Media Services Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. A 2013 graduate of Johnson & Wales University, she oversees credential management and is the athletic communications director for Fighting Irish men’s and women’s swimming and diving and track and field. She has assisted with numerous NCAA postseason events hosted by Notre Dame, and is heavily involved in the day-to-day tasks of the athletic communications office.