April 6, 2016
By Lizzie Mikes
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame track & field program left campus Wednesday morning destined for Tempe, Arizona, for the Sun Angel Classic hosted by Arizona State. The meet will be held at the Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium, starting Friday afternoon and running through Saturday evening.
Volunteer Assistant Coach Jade Barber, twin sister to current sprinter Kaila Barber, returns to action in Tempe this weekend.
“This should be a great meet, with a quality, fast venue, perfect weather, and great competition,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said. “There will be several post-collegiate, top-ranked athletes competing, notably Notre Dame volunteer assistant coaches Jade Barber, Patrick Feeney and Chris Giesting. All are making their outdoor season debuts, with Pat and Chris fresh off their gold medal relay performances at the World Indoor Championships.”
Representing the current roster are 16 student-athletes in total, with nine women and seven men making the trip out west. With an emphasis on sprinters, throwers and jumpers, it is a diverse group that stands to perform well throughout the weekend.
Indi Jackson and Anthony Shivers are both coming off of top performances at the Stanford Invitational, where Jackson won the women’s shot put (14.76m) and finished 10th in the discus throw (42.63m). Shivers won the men’s discus throw with a distance of 54.15m.
Jackson is the only true women’s field performer in action this weekend for the Irish, but Shivers is joined by Matthew Birzer, Nick Hauser, Hunter Holton and Drake Stimson. Carly Loeffel and Brent Swanberg will both compete in a multi-events competition, held at the University of Arizona-Tucson.
Josephine “Indi” Jackson is off to a hot start this outdoors season.
“Looking at our field student-athletes, I am expecting Indi Jackson and Anthony Shivers to continue to perform at a high level,” Turner stated. “I also want to see Matt Birzer and Hunter Holton at or near the seven-foot level in the high jump. Carly Loeffel and Brent Swanberg will be competing in the heptathlon and decathlon at the University of Arizona — Tucson this weekend, where both of them should do very well and improve on their placement from the ACC Indoor meet.”
Running for the women’s team are the sprint and mid-distance group, many of which had a break last weekend after competing two weeks prior at the Yellow Jacket Invitational. Margaret Bamgbose makes her outdoor season debut, and is joined by Kaila Barber, Allison Bartoszewicz, Parker English, Kyla Lewis, Payton Miller and Jordan Shead. The women’s team is currently ranked at No. 19 in the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) polls.
“The expectations for the women’s sprint group remain high,” Turner commented. “Margaret Bamgbose is making her outdoor debut in the 400m. She should be in the 51-second range, which would put her in the top three nationally. She’ll also anchor the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Thankfully, the 4x100m relay team will be at full strength. I am expecting them to challenge our school record of 44.30. The team ran a 44.51 last year at the NCAA East Regional with a last-minute replacement, and Kaila Barber running on an injured foot.
Graduate student Kaila Barber.
“Speaking of Kaila,” Turner continued, “I am expecting her to challenge another school record, in the 400m hurdles. She is currently No. 2 on the Notre Dame all-time list. I think she is capable of running 56.50 or better Saturday, and the Notre Dame record is 56.82. Kaila will lead off the 4x100m relay, and run second on the 4x400m relay. It should be a very good weekend for us with her here.”
On the men’s side, Alex Groesch is the lone Irish sprinter in action this weekend.
Daily recaps from the meet can be found on und.com, but for up-to-the-minute action, follow the team’s social media accounts on Twitter (@NDXCTF) and Facebook (Notre Dame Cross Country/Track & Field).
— 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.