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Women's Track And Field Looks At 2000 As Breakout Year

Sept. 21, 1999

As the 10th year of Notre Dame women’s track and field opens, the Irish women are coming off the program’s most successful season to date. After placing a best-ever third at both 1999 BIG EAST championships, the Irish women, led by All-Americans JoAnna Deeter, Jennifer Engelhardt and Alison Klemmer, finished tied for 17th place with Florida and Louisiana Tech at the 1999 NCAA outdoor championships.

In 2000, Notre Dame returns the majority of last year’s squad, which continues to gain in both depth and talent. Below is an event-by-event preview of what to expect from this year’s Irish women’s indoor and outdoor track and field squads.

Sprints with John Millar

Led by sophomore Liz Grow, a 1999 NCAA indoor participant in the 400 meters, the Irish gain added depth and talent with newcomers Tameisha King and Kymia Love.

“Liz Grow is obviously our top person coming back in the sprint events. She ran NCAA provisional qualifying times both indoors and outdoors and established the school-record in the indoor 400 meters as a freshman, so we’re counting on her to be the anchor of the sprint group.

“I was very impressed with Liz’s abilities on the track. We knew that Liz was very talented and we were hoping that she would come in and compete at the level that she did. The thing I see now is that she’s had an opportunity to see what she has to do to be competitive in college and make the NCAAs. She knows how much faster she has to run and that’s going to help her and help her to teach the freshmen what’s going to be expected of them and what they have to do to compete.

“We’ve added some good people recruiting-wise in freshmen in Tameisha King, who besides being a jumper and hurdler, will help us in the short sprints and the relays. Kymia Love is more of a 200 and 400 person, who will also make up the relay.

“This year we finally have people on our relays who are going to help us be more competitive. In the mile relay, I think we’re one person shy of being nationally competitive, but with Carri Lenz and Amanda Alvarez and some of the freshmen, hopefully one of them will come in and step up and establish them selves as a relay person.”

Hurdles with John Millar

The Irish begin the year without four-time monogram winner and NCAA qualifier Nadia Schmiedt, who graduated last year. With the addition of Tameisha King, however, the Irish have a suitable replacement and a number of talented athletes in junior Carri Lenz, sophomore Angela Butcher and freshman Elizabeth Lazzeri.

“Carri Lenz had a good year last season for her first year ever in the hurdle events. Having that year behind her, I expect her to improve significantly in the 400 hurdles, so hopefully she can step in and take over where Nadia left off. She has potentially a lot of talent in that event and it’s just a matter of her learning it, which takes time.

“Angela Butcher struggled with the adjustment as a freshman and really never had a chance to compete. I think we’re going to focus her on the 400 hurdles this year.

“In the 100 hurdles we have Tameisha King, who we are going to count on as the mainstay of the short hurdle races. She was one of the top high school hurdlers in the country as well as the top long jumper in the country, so she has the ability to make an impact right away.

“Elizabeth Lazzeri also will come in and help us in both hurdle races, especially in the 100 and 60-meter hurdles.”

Middle Distance with Tim Connelly

The Notre Dame women return all of the team’s main threats in the middle distance corps, including Leanne Brady, Hilary Burn, Jennifer Pavela and Patty Rice. All four have shown improvement in their events and will look to contend on a regular basis in 2000.

“Jennifer Pavela ran 4:51 in the mile last year and was third in the BIG EAST in the 1,000, so she’s shown that she can score at that level. The next step for her is to get to the NCAA level, which is the same situation with Patty Rice, who scored in the BIG EAST mile.

“Sophomore Hilary Burn is definitely capable of scoring at the BIG EAST in the mile, 1,000 or 1,500 as is junior Leanne Brady.

“We don’t really have what might be called a ‘pure’ 800-meter runner returning. Leanne, Hilary and Jenny Pavela are capable of running the 800, plus we also have some freshmen coming in like Kristin Flood out of Iowa, Alicia Wyche out of Ohio and Colleen Pepper out of New Mexico. All three of those freshmen I think can really contribute for us in that event.”

Distance with Tim Connelly

The Notre Dame distance group has showed time after time that it is one of the top groups in the country. Led by three-time 1999 All-American JoAnna Deeter, the Irish also return a two-time All-American in the 10,000, senior Alison Klemmer, and senior Nicole LaSelle, who provisionally qualified for the NCAAs in the 10,000.

“In the longer distances, the 5,000 and 10,000, there’s JoAnna and Alison Klemmer, who were both All-Americans. Nicole LaSelle is an NCAA provisional qualifier and scored in the BIG EAST meet, while freshman Jennifer Handley is someone who can run at the NCAA level at the 3,000 and 5,000 level and eventually the 10,000.

“People like Bridget O’Brien, Anne McGrath and Chrissy Kuenster also are capable of scoring at the 10,000.”

Throws with Scott Winsor

Led by sophomore Dore DeBartolo, the Irish throwers are a young group who will be looking for further success at the BIG EAST meet. DeBartolo, who recorded an NCAA provisional mark in 1999 in the discus, will be joined by senior Emily Bienko, sophomore Katherine Henze and freshman Amanda Horvath in 2000.

“We have Dore coming back, who has rewritten our record book. I think she will be the first to admit that that isn’t good enough for her. She struggled a little at the BIG EAST with the adjustment, but now that she’s got one year under her belt, we expect, especially in the big meets, that she will be able to perform a little better.

“I think Dore learned a lot as a freshman. She learned that it’s a whole different ballgame from the high school level to Division I. She can have a great day and still get beat on the collegiate level, while she could have had a poor day in high school and still win.

“Amanda Horvath is a pretty good shot putter, which is going to help us, especially because she will benefit from getting stronger as the season goes on. She’s tall and relatively thin for a shot puter, but has a lot of room to gain strength.

“The overall outlook for our throwers is good. I know we’re still thin on numbers, but our caliber is getting there.”

Jumps with Scott Winsor

The long and triple jump, which have never been strong points in Notre Dame’s BIG EAST climb, will be dramatically improved with the addition of Tameisha King and multi-event performer Jamie Volkmer. High jump, an event that has brought the Irish consistent top results, will once again be headlined by two-time All-American Jennifer Engelhardt. Pole vault, meanwhile, will have three BIG EAST contenders in record-holders Bethany Wilson and Natalie Hallett, along with Volkmer.

“Tameisha King led the country last year as a high school senior in the long jump with a leap of 20-6 1/2. Coming in she’ll be our number one jumper. We also have Jamie Volkmer, who has jumped 19-1, so we should be pretty solid in the long jump.

“Jamie Volkmer has jumped 40-9 and will be our number-one triple jumper coming in. Senior Angela Patrizio also recorded a personal best of 37-1 1/4 last season.

“We have two returning pole vaulter – Bethany Wilson and Natalie Hallett- who have both gone 10-6, but then also add in Jamie Volkmer, who has vaulted 11-8. With all three of them, especially in the conference, we should be pretty solid.

“Jennifer Engelhardt loves to high jump in hot weather. Last year at the Mt. SAC meet, where she cleared a school-record 6-0 3/4, she had two very good attempts at 6-2 3/4. The potential is there and her main thing is that she needs to believe in herself. She can jump with anybody in the country and has no reason to be intimidated by anyone.”