Track: Spartans visit Loftus to meet talented Irish
By: ANDY TROEGER
Coming off strong performances last week, the Irish will look to continue their strong pace tonight against Michigan State at the Loftus Sports Center.
Both Irish teams, fresh off home victories last week, will be attempting to qualify more athletes for both the Big East and NCAA Indoor Championships.
"We had a couple of outstanding performances last week," Notre Dame coach Joe Piane said. "We've competed really well."
Although most teams are just beginning to hit full competition, Notre Dame's strong showing so far has many athletes in contention for NCAA and Big East spots. Three Irish women rank in the top 10 in the nation in their respective events.
Tameisha King's 6.31-meter mark in the long jump at the Central Michigan Opener has her in contention for the NCAA individual title, as her jump is currently the best in the nation.
Cross country All-American Molly Huddle posted a victory last week in the 3,000 meter race with a time of 9 minutes, 31.53 seconds, placing her second in the Big East and seventh in the nation. Senior Kymia Love also ranks seventh in the nation and first in the Big East with a 23.88 effort in the 200.
The womens team also looks strong in its bid to defend its 2002 Big East Indoor title. In addition to her long jump, King is tied with Love for the top time in the 60-meter dash. King's time in the 60-meter hurdles is third in the Big East.
The Irish pole vault looks strong this season as the trio of Laura Huarte, Jaime Volkmer and Jill Van Weelden combine to lead the conference with a 3.66m clearance.
Depth will be the key on the mens side, as numerous Irish athletes rank in the top 10 in almost every event. Thirteen runners rank in the top 10 in the longer distances, including the 800 meters, 1,000 meters, mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters.
While the rest of the Irish will be taking on Michigan State Friday, senior Luke Watson will be traveling to the adidas Invitational in Boston Saturday to compete in either the mile or the 3,000 meters. He finished third in the 3,000 meters at the NCAA indoor meet last year and is looking to achieve a sub-four minute mile at the Meyo Invitational in two weeks.
Piane expects more of a challenge from Michigan State than the Irish have received so far this season.
"Both of their cross country teams made the NCAA's so their distance teams should be strong," Piane said. "Their women's pole vaulters and long jumpers should challenge us too. Their men's long jump is strong too."
The meet between the Irish and the Spartans starts at 7 p.m. tonight.
All Sports Stories for Friday, January 31, 2003