Notre Dame Track & Field Archives

1997 Preview

After its first season in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame will blend a talented freshman class with the experience of the upperclassmen to show a markedly improved team from 1996. The return of school-record holders and the arrival of nationally recognized freshmen should provide the Irish with some of the more talented runners in the conference. “This team is anxious to show how much they have improved since the 1996 season,” says women’s track coach Tim Connelly, who is entering his ninth year at the helm. “We have a dedicated and talented team this year and we think our results will confirm that.”


One area where the freshmen will make their biggest impact will be in the sprinting and hurdling competitions. Freshman Dominque Calloway (Aurora, Colo.) brings a wealth of talent to Notre Dame after advancing to the semifinals of the Olympic Trials in 1996 with a time of 13.03 in the 100-meter hurdles. Calloway should star not only at Notre Dame and in the BIG EAST Conference, but also on the national level in the NCAA championships. “Obviously, Dominque will make a big impact on our team with all her talent and experience,” says sprints and hurdles coach John Millar. “She will excel in a lot of events, especially in the 100-meter hurdles and the 100 and 200 meters.” Sophomore Nadia Schmiedt (London, Ontario) will be recovered from injuries which limited her in 1996. Despite these setbacks, Schmiedt had an impressive season as she earned all-BIG EAST honors with her second-placing finish in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:00.05. She also won the Miami Invitational with 1:01.82 in the 400-meter hurdles.


Senior captain Alison Howard (Manhattan, Kan.), Notre Dame’s outdoor record holder in the 200 and 400 meters, finishes her career with high expectations from Millar. “Alison has improved every year that she has been here,” says Millar. “We would like to see her be a scorer for us in the big meets and to qualify for the NCAA championships.” Howard placed sixth at the BIG EAST outdoor championships in the 1996 in the 400 meters with a time of 56.83. She ran a season-best time of 55.01 as she placed second at the Arizona Invitational. Howard also won the DePaul Invitational with 25.40 in the 200 meters. Senior Heidi Altman (Chalmers, Ind.), the Irish record holder in the long jump and freshman Emily Bienko (Tranquillity, N.J.) should also contribute in the hurdle events as well as the jumps. Another freshman, Sarah Lopienski (Hudson, Ohio), should help out in the hurdles and in the mile relay.

Middle Distance

Notre Dame temporarily loses one of its top middle distance runners in 1997. An indoor and outdoor NCAA qualifier and school record holder in the 800 meters (2:05.68), junior Berit Junker (Erfurt, Germany) will spend the 1996-97 school year studying in Rome with the University’s architecture program and will have two years of eligibility remaining when she returns. “We will certainly miss Berit Junker,” says distance coach Tim Connelly. “She has made the NCAAs for us so we look forward to her return in 1998.” In her absence, the Irish will look to senior Carolyn Long (Middletown, Ohio) and junior Gretchen Weiher (Toledo, Ohio) to perform well at 800 meters, as well as the 1000 meters and the 1500 meters. Both were members of the school record-setting 3200 meter relay team which placed third at the BIG EAST indoor championships. “If Carolyn Long stays healthy, she can give some much-needed results in the 800 meters,” says Connelly. “She can also help us in the 1500 meters and in the relays.” Weiher will join Long in the middle distance events. She also ran a season-best time at the Wilson Invitational in the 800 meters as she placed fifth. Weiher concentrated on the 1500 meters in the outdoor season and turned in her best performance at the Purdue Invitational. Junior Amanda Enscoe (Green Bay, Wisc.) and sophomores Erin Newman (Carmel, Ind.), Emily Edwards (Nashville, Tenn.) and Katie Helland (Burke, Va.) all gained valuable experience at 800 and 1500 meter events and on the relays and should strengthen the middle distance area this season. Freshman Cara Motter (Brawley, Calif.) comes to Notre Dame as a four-time conference champion and state finalist in the 800 meters. She can give the Irish some immediate results in the 800 meters where she is the school record holder with a time of 2:15.0. Freshmen Denise Bakula (North Tonawanda, N.Y.), Erin Luby (Inverness, Ill.), Patricia Rice (Mishawaka, Ind.), Charlotte Kelly (Butler, Pa.) and Dana McSherry (Merrick, N.Y.) all have impressive high school accomplishments in the 800 and 1500 meters and will be looked upon to contribute in the middle distances.


As in cross country, the Irish will rely heavily on the freshmen and sone inexperienced upperclassmen in the distance events. Nicole LaSelle (Dayton, Ohio) and Joanna Deeter (Eden Prairie, Minn.) finished their high school careers as two of the top-ranked runners in the country at 1,600 and 3,200 meters and will be needed to contribute at the 1500, 3000 and 5000 meters. Deeter was a two-time state-champion in Minnesota in the 3200 meters. At the 1995 East Coast Invitational, LaSelle took second in the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:03. She won the 10,000 meters in 36:28 at the 1995 Sea Rays Relays collegiate outdoor meet. “Nicole LaSelle is a freshman in the classroom only,” says Connelly. “She runs with more experience than her years and can do some great things for us in the longer distance events.” Another freshman, Alison Klemmer (Troy, Mich.) is the school record holder and state champion in the 3200 meters and has a personal best of 10:52.0. Two other freshmen, Rebecca Bea (Oronca, Minn.) and Anna Yates (East Wilton, Maine) could also contribute. Among the upperclass runners, senior Lindsay Dutton (Tulsa, Okla.) hopes to regain the form that saw her as one of the top Irish threats in the 3000, 5000 and 10,000 as a sophomore. Classmates Emily Dodds (Wilton, Conn.), Michelle Lavigne (Albany, N.Y.) and Heidi Reichenbach (Plainfield, Ill.) have experience in the distance races and should contribute. Juniors Janel Kiley (Somerville, Mass.) and Mieke Walsh (York, Pa.) has made tremendous improvements over the last two years and could have breakthrough years. Junior Megan Smedley (Buchanan, Mich.) has struggled with injuries her first two seasons but has the talent to be one of the team’s top runners in the 5000 and 10,000 meter events. Sophomore Kelly Peterson (Escondido, Calif.) was the most consistent Irish distance runner last season and made some big improvements as the season progressed. A scorer in the 10,000 meters at the BIG EAST championships last season, Peterson has shown the potential to be an outstanding runner at the distance. Mary Volland (Chesterfield, Mo.) is another sophomore who will be looked to to display the same consistency on the track that she showed in cross country as a freshman. Sophomores Maria Posch and Amanda Crosby saw limited action as freshmen but both are capable of being among the top Irish runners at 3000 and 5000 meters. “This year, we will be looking to the older runners to lead the way for the freshmen,” says Connelly. “The freshmen certainly have the talent and the times but will need to follow the examples of the older runners.”

Field Events

Jumping and throwing coach Scott Winsor will be looking primarily towards the youth of the squad to give Notre Dame its best result in the field events. “There are a lot of areas in which we can improve in the field events and the younger members of the team are helping to get us to where we need to be,” says Winsor. Freshman Jennifer Engelhardt (Battle Creek, Mich.) has high jumped 5-10 in high school and was ranked fourth nationally among high school jumpers. “Obviously, Jennifer will help us a lot,” says Winsor. “If she can improve the way we think she can, Jennifer could be an NCAA qualifier.” Sophomore Kelly Saxen (Canton, Ohio) returns after setting the school record in the high jump as a freshman. She jumped 5-8 on two occasion to win the Butler Open and the Wilson Invitational to break the old record of 5-7.25 set by Susan Maher in 1993. Saxen jumped 5-4 in placing seventh at the BIG EAST outdoor championships. “Kelly has some minor technical problems but when we correct them, she will be a much better jumper instantly,” says Winsor. Another sophomore, Stephanie Van Hoff (Miami, Fla.), is looking to regain her form from high school when she high jumped 5-6. Van Hoff took home two-second place-finishes at the DePaul Invitational in the high jump and the 20 lb. weight throw. In the long jump, Altman returns for her final season after registering Notre Dame’s top two jumps in the indoor season in 1996. Altman was the top Irish finisher in the long jump at the BIG EAST indoor Championships. Other expected to contribute are sophomore Lee Gill (Mishawaka, Ind.) and Bienko.