Jan. 15, 2016

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By Ashley Albertson

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame track and field team opens competition in the 2016 calendar year, traveling to Madison, Wisconsin for a dual with the Badgers. Events will commence Saturday, January 16 at noon at the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, or “The Shell.”

In his second season at the helm of the Irish program, Notre Dame head coach Alan Turner will take a selection of student-athletes to battle the Badgers in a meet centered on introducing competition following the holiday hiatus.

“It usually takes the student-athletes about a week and a half to get their legs back under them after winter break,” Turner said. “This meet offers us a chance to get our feet wet with some competition in a new venue – we haven’t been to Wisconsin for an extended period of time. Even though it is a scored dual meet, we won’t be running a full compliment of events.”

As the Fighting Irish prepare for the contest, here are the important news and notes to get a head start on the competition:

The Irish women’s contingent secured their placement among national contenders, ranking 20th in the indoor preseason poll released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Notre Dame totaled 45.06 points in the season-opening poll, which featured six members of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Top 25 – NC State (15), Duke (16), Miami (17), Notre Dame (20), Clemson (22) and Boston College (24).

Six Irish women, along with the 4×400-meter relay and distance medley relay, are ranked among the Top 25 in their respective events. Margaret Bamgbose (No. 6, 400-meter dash) is the highest ranked individual. Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel (No. 7, 5000-meter run) and Danielle Aragon (No. 8, Mile) also stand in the Top 10.

The Notre Dame women are projected to once again strongly contend for an ACC title, while the men’s unit will look to continue their tenacious rebuilding process. Coach Turner took time this week to discuss the state of his Irish team at this point in the season. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

On the men’s sprint unit
“We don’t necessarily have one key superstar like we have had in the past, with Patrick Feeney and Chris Giesting – who are now volunteer assistant coaches for me. What we do have is quality. All our guys, from top to bottom, are solid. No one is off the radar. As a 4×400 unit, I think this team can be one of the best we have ever had, without a superstar.”

On balancing collegiate training as athletes prepare for their upcoming Olympic trials
“It’s tough for a collegiate coach. The No. 1 thing for me is to get the athletes ready for the ACC and NCAA championships. When thinking of names like Margaret (Bamgbose) and Molly (Seidel), we know they are doing to be at the NCAA championships, but we also know they’ll have a post-collegiate running career. It’s a very fine balancing act to not overdo it, so they are still fresh for a big summer of running against some of the fastest people on the planet. We’ll run them in the championship meets, but their regular season will be trimmed down.”

On the shift from cross country training to indoor track & field
“It’s again that balance of how much do I want to push those individuals. If you’re racing in the top-seven in cross country, chances are you’re one of our better runners and we’ll need you in the indoor season. We certainly don’t overdo it, because it’s a long season overall. Thinking of Jacob Dumford, he’s one of our top contenders in the mile and runs cross country. How hard do we push him indoors? We’ll gradually start to get races in for those folks, but not this weekend.”

On the progress of Danielle Aragon
“Danielle is one of the top girls in the country. She was a little banged up in outdoors last season and she’s not quite 100 percent yet, but she’s going to get there. We think she’s someone who could compete for an indoor ACC title, as she was runner up last year.”

On rebuilding the women’s throwing crew
“We’ve lost a few people, especially Emily Morris, who was consistently a national contender. Lena Madison will be expected to pick up some of the slack. We have Josephine Jackson returning from injury, but she’s still developing. From the freshmen class, Alexa Coubal will compete. However, Lena is going to be the one to lead us this year.”

On the progress of Anthony Shivers
“Anthony Shivers had a big PR in the weight and I have to say, we’ve been waiting for this moment. I think he’s finally gotten over the hump. He’ll compete this Saturday and I’m excited to see what he can do.”

The last time we checked in with Molly Seidel from a track and field angle she was coming off a stellar performance at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Hartland, Wisconsin, native became Notre Dame’s first individual national champion in women’s program history in the 10,000-meter event.

A lot has transpired since then. Seidel is now regarded as a two-time NCAA champion after racing to a title at the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Carrying the weight of anticipation into her cross country campaign, the All-American handled the pressure with the poise of a veteran. She also raced to titles at the ACC Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships before journeying to Louisville to dominate a premier national field.

This week, Seidel joined Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick and Fighting Irish Media’s Jack Nolan to discuss her upcoming season and provide an indoor outlook for the track and field squad.

Notre Dame started the season on a strong note Friday, Dec. 4 at the Blue & Gold Invite, hosted by the Fighting Irish at Loftus Sports Center. Winning 14 events overall, the contingent combined for nine qualifying marks for the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships.

Notre Dame’s individual first-place finishers included: Jessica Harris, Lena Madison, Jordan Shead, Alexis Daugherty, Taylor Craft, Ashlyn Rambo, Nathan Richartz, Eric Ways, Hunter Holton, Anthony Shivers, Patrick O’Connell and Harvey Smith. The Irish also claimed both the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay.

The following student-athletes are entered in events for the dual vs. Wisconsin:

Parker English
Kyla Lewis
Emily Carson
Margaret Bamgbose
Jordan Shead
Payton Miller
Mikaila Chamblee
Samantha Murray
Alexis Daugherty
Kelly Hart
Ashlyn Rambo
Taylor Craft
Carly Loeffel
Libby Schichtel
Josephine Jackson
Alexa Coubal
Lena Madison

Alex Groesch
Eric Ways
Harvey Smith
John Rutkowski
Drake Stimson
Andrew Stone
Grant Koch
Brent Swanberg
Hunter Holton
Matthew Birzer
Nathan Richartz
Daniel Hardiman
Anthony Shivers
Nick Hauser

For an inside look into the Notre Dame Cross Country/Track and Field program, follow the Fighting Irish onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram.

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.