Notre Dame heads to Canada
By NOAH AMSTADTER
With one more week to go before the Big East Championships, the Notre Dame men's track and field team decided to switch the schedule around a bit.
Rather than running the Cannon IV Classic in Indianapolis this weekend, the team is sending a small unit up to the University of Windsor Team Challenge in Windsor, Ontario on Saturday.
"The decision was made probably about 10 days ago," said head coach Joe Piane. "The meet down in Indianapolis — there are some events on Friday and then nothing starts on Saturday until late in the afternoon. You'd miss class on Friday, and you wouldn't get back until 2 a.m. on Sunday at the earliest."
The Ontario meet provides the athletes a chance to compete on a 200-meter, flat track for the first time this indoor season, a crucial experience as the Big East meet at Syracuse takes place on such a track.
"This is really our only opportunity all indoor season to compete on the same kind of facility that we're going to compete at the Big East Championships on," said sprints coach John Millar. "Some of our freshman especially — they've never even been on a 200-meter track. We're trying to give them at least an opportunity to see what it's all about."
The 13 athletes heading to our northern neighbor are either looking for a final tune-up before the conference meet or looking to qualify. "We're sending people up that may need a competition or if somebody's on the cusp of qualifying, trying to give them that opportunity," said Piane.
One of those targeted athletes is Sean McManus, who will compete in the 3,000 meters as his specialty, the 5,000-meters, is not an event at the meet. Another athlete looking to break through for a trip to New York is high jumper Craig Novosel-Johnson, who cleared 6 feet, 5 inches last Saturday.
"He had some good attempts at 6-7 this last weekend," said field events coach Scott Winsor. "That's exactly why I'm taking him. He cleared 6-5. He had some really good attempts at the next height. He's borderline — if he jumps well he'll go next week."
Middle-distance runner Nick Setta will get a chance to kick it into gear in a longer sprint, as he will compete in the 600-meters. In preparation for running the 400-meters next weekend, senior Terry Wray and freshman James Bracken will run the 300-meters.
"It's kind of an off distance for them but it's a good indicator of based on how they run the 300-meters what they're capable of in the 400," Millar said.
Senior Travis Davey will also take part in the 300-meter race, as well as running the 60-meters. "We want to get him on the small track and just kind of see where he's at," Millar said. "We might need him on the mile relay at the conference meet as well."
Nathan Cahill will be the lone competitor in the pole vault, as teammate Josh Heck is suffering from a pulled gluteus muscle.
"He's been having some glute problems — really really tight after vault sessions," Winsor said. "We just vaulted him today. He's going to vault again Monday and ride it in to the Big East."
Godwin Mbagwu and Tom Gilbert look for one final tune-up in the long jump, while Mbgawu also competes in the triple jump. Winsor is looking for a break-out performance from Gilbert, who took second last weekend despite battling the flu.
"I really look for Tom to bust some good jumps in the next couple of weeks," Winsor said. "I think 24 is conservative for what Tom can do. He hits a good one, he's going to be out there."
In the throws, Brian Thornberg, Derek Dyer and John Scolaro will compete in the weight-throw and shot-put.
The opportunity to compete against unfamiliar competition excites Winsor.
"These guys are excited about going to Canada and competing against some Canadians," Winsor said.
All Sports Stories for Friday, February 9, 2001