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    A New Home

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    While our student-athletes have been working hard in preparation for the start of the fall season, we've also made a few improvements in anticipation of the new school year.

    From this point forward, Irish UNDerground will be utilizing the Wordpress platform powered by NBC Sports.

    Here's a look at our three new blog websites:

    UNDerground: Notre Dame Athletics

    Strong and True: Notre Dame Football

    Irish United: Notre Dame Men's and Women's Soccer

    Go ahead and bookmark these now. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the athletic department, we are committed to bringing you coverage of Notre Dame athletics unlike any you can find elsewhere.

    Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.

    The Irish Remember Title IX

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    This past Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, an educational amendment that changed the world. In part, Title IX states:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...

    Last week, several Notre Dame student-athletes reflected on the momentous act in a feature for ESPN.

    Saxer Does The Irish Proud

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    For 2009 graduate Mary Saxer (@SaxDefyGravity), dreams of representing the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics came to a heartbreaking halt on Sunday in Eugene, Ore.

    Saxer tied Lacy Janson for third place with a top mark of 14 feet, 9 inches, but missed out on qualifying for London based on the tiebreaker rules. (Janson had fewer missed attempts in the event.)

    She is set as the team's alternate, so there is a small chance she could end up on the team, but more than likely, her hopes of wearing the red, white & blue on the sport's biggest stage will have to wait. Her next opportunity would be at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

    Be sure to check out Sam Borden's piece in the New York Times, which features a few quotes from Mary. The article focuses on the challenges that pole vaulters face while traveling.

    ...as well as Fighting Irish Digital Media's recent video on the Lancaster, N.Y. native:

    - Josh Flynt ('11)


    Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but Brenden Dougherty can run like the wind blows.

    The junior sprinter will be making his first NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships appearance this week in his home state when 14 Irish student-athletes travel to Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Seven men's competitors are slated to compete in five events, while seven female competitors will participate in four events. The 14 total competitors and seven on each team are the most in Irish outdoor history for one NCAA Championship.

    Would it be poetic if Dougherty entered Drake Stadium mounted on top of a thoroughbred? His grandfather would have no objections.

    Sioux City Journal - When most Notre Dame athletes think of the "Four Horsemen," the fabled 1924 Fighting Irish football foursome comes to mind.

    Not for Brendan Dougherty.

    The Notre Dame sprinter's grandfather, John, ran for a lesser-known track-and-field quartet that went by the same name -- the old Trinity High "Four Horsemen" squad that was inducted into the Sioux City Relays Hall of Fame this spring.

    "Yup, he was one of the Four Horsemen," said Brendan, whose grandpa anchored Trinity's medley relay to a gold medal at the 1945 state track and field meet at Iowa State's old Clyde Williams Field in Ames.

    The track was cinder back then, the starting blocks made of wood and races measured in yards instead of meters. There was also just one class of runners for the entire state, not four.

    "My grandpa gets a kick out of telling that story," Brendan said. "We've heard it hundreds of times."

    Sixty-seven years from now, he hopes he has a story of his own to tell.

    The Bishop Heelan grad is the first leg on Notre Dame's 4x400-meter relay that broke a school record and qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Championships that start today at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

    "I like to think of it as home-court advantage," Dougherty said, "because I've ran here more than most other people."

    Indeed, Dougherty feels right at home at the blue oval -- where three years ago he anchored Heelan's 4x400 to a Class 3A record at the state track and field meet.

    The color of his blue-and-gold jersey hasn't changed; only the name. After high school, Dougherty mailed his times, his transcript and a highlight video to Notre Dame -- his "dream college" -- and the marks caught the eye of Fighting Irish coach Joe Piane.

    "I was completely shocked when he called me up," Dougherty recalled. "He said, 'we're interested in you,' and right then and there I told him if he could get me in, I'd definitely come. Basically, the rest is history."

    Fighting Irish track and field history, that is.

    Read the entire feature at SiouxCityJournal.com.

    Irish Connection - Episode 38

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    How are Coach Kelly's Fighting Irish spending the off-season before spring practice begins? Check out the latest episode of Irish Connection.

    Stay tuned into UND.com in the coming weeks for more football coverage. Spring practice begins March 21 and the Blue-Gold game will be a month later, on April 21 at 1:30 pm ET on the NBC Sports Network.

    Fighting Irish Xtra: March 5

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    Following Flynt - DMR Madness

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    Every sports fan knows that March is the month for college basketball. From championship week to Selection Sunday to the Big Dance, it's wall-to-wall hoops. The madness however, is not limited to just basketball.

    This Friday evening, when the men's team is closing out its regular season against Providence at Purcell Pavilion, the Notre Dame track & field team will host the Alex Wilson Invitational. It's the squad's final home meet of the season, and a last opportunity for teams and individuals to qualify for next weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships in Boise, Id.

    The meet begins on Friday at 6 pm, and flotrack.org will be streaming the running events beginning at 7 pm ET. The evening lineup includes four exciting races, the men's and women's 5,000m, as well as the men's and women's distance medley relay (DMR).

    The Loftus Center track is one-fifth of a mile, making it as large as any other indoor track in the nation. Being bigger than most indoor facilities, Notre Dame's track provides teams with an excellent opportunity to run their best times of the season.

    Among the programs running in the men's DMR this year are Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and Arkansas. Over the years, teams have used this race to make an incredible final push for the NCAA championships. In 2009, 15 of 18 teams met the automatic qualifier standard, and last year, six of 12 met this mark.

    Notre Dame's DMR team will include senior Johnathan Shawel, freshman Chris Giesting, senior Randall Babb and junior Jeremy Rae.

    Friday's 5,000m races with feature five Irish runners - junior Jessica Rydberg, senior Rachel Velarde and senior Molly Hirt on the women's side, along with freshman Jake Kildoo and sophomore Patrick Lesiewicz in the men's event.

    The Alex Wilson Invitational will continue on Saturday and Notre Dame football players Josh Atkinson and Bennett Jackson are listed on the heat sheets. Jackson is scheduled to run in the 60m hurdles, which begin at 11:10 am. Atkinson is set for the 60m dash (11:25 am) and 200m dash (1:40 pm).

    Read more on the Alex Wilson Invy on flotrack.org, and if you're not at the basketball game, tune in on Friday to see some exciting track action live from the Loftus Center.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Irish Welcome Top Runner

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    seidel.jpg Other teams better watch out. Notre Dame's got a highly touted recruit arriving next year who's ready to have an immediate impact from day one. This kid is talented, smart, and incredibly athletic. I think the Irish have got a great building block here.

    And before you guess, no, I'm not talking about incoming quarterback Gunnar Kiel. I'm talking about the Gatorade National Runner of the Year and a future member of the Notre Dame cross country team, Molly Seidel.

    While she may not have gotten as much attention on campus as the highly touted quarterback or other football recruits, Seidel's credentials can stack up with any one of them. Seidel, who hails from Hartland, Wis., was a four-time first team all-state performer and also won four consecutive Wisconsin Division 3 individual state titles. She won the National Foot Locker Cross Country Championships this past cross country season with a time of 17:22.

    "I think that Molly is very talented, but I also think that she's incredibly competitive," said Notre Dame women's cross country head coach Tim Connelly. "And if you put talent and competitiveness together, you're going to have a great athlete."

    However, Seidel doesn't just excel as an athlete. She also was a star in the classroom, earning a perfect 4.0 GPA and recognition as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Seidel also finds time to serve as vice president of her high school's student government, volunteer with several groups and is an active member of St. Joan of Arc Church.

    Connelly thinks Seidel will be a great fit in South Bend.

    "I think what we look for besides kids who are really talented and kids who are great students, are kids that belong at Notre Dame," said Connelly. "There's a reason beyond academics and running for those kids to come. And I think she's that kind of kid."

    Seidel is poised to have a great career running for the Irish. And yet the Irish will not need to rely on their star prospect right away.

    "I think she can be an immediate impact," said Connelly. "But I don't think she'll have to come in and carry the whole load because we've got a really good team coming back. And we actually signed a couple of other great recruits, too. So I think it's a situation where Molly's going to be an impact person - there's no doubt in my mind about that. But I don't think she's going to have to come in and do it all by herself. She's going to be part of a great group."

    There's no question that she's got the talent, determination, and will to succeed. Molly Seidel will be a key figure for the Irish cross country team for years to come.

    - Tom McGuire ('14)

    Following Flynt - Notes From The Gug

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    Head coach Brian Kelly met briefly with some members of the media this afternoon for a story that will run later this week about his players who are moonlighting with the Notre Dame track team - George Atkinson III, Josh Atkinson and Bennett Jackson.

    Naturally, questions deviated from the topic at hand, as discussion shifted towards which Irish student-athletes will be returning for a fifth season. Rumors, tweets and blogs discussing the possibilities have persisted, but right now everything remains speculation.

    Though Notre Dame does not officially apply the redshirt title to any of its players, those who do not appear in game action during a season retain that year towards their four years of athletic eligibility.

    These athletes then have an opportunity to apply for a fifth season, but must obtain approval from the Faculty Board on Athletics before being granted permission to compete.

    I spoke briefly with football director of media relations Brian Hardin (@bhardin2), who explained that the fifth-year application process has begun and an announcement will hopefully be made before spring practice begins on March 21.

    Coach Kelly did confirm the reports that former walk-on safety Chris Salvi, who starred on special teams this past year, has been awarded a scholarship for the 2012 season.

    Salvi is also competing in the Bengal Bouts, and will fight in the 188-lb semifinals tomorrow evening. The bouts begin at 6 pm and will be held in the north dome of the Joyce Center.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Following Flynt - Good Weekend to Be Irish

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    With the winter sports wrapping up and the spring seasons getting underway, it was a good weekend for the Notre Dame athletic department, as several programs picked up big wins and two captured BIG EAST championships. Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's top performances:

    Baseball opened the season in Florida, winning its first two games in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. On Friday, the Irish won a 13-12 slugfest against Illinois, led by junior catcher Joe Hudson's 3-for-4, two home run, four RBI afternoon. Saturday was a different story, as junior Adam Norton went the distance on the mound. The righty held Iowa to just two runs over nine innings to register his first complete game victory.

    The ninth-ranked men's lacrosse team kicked off Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 upset of #2 Duke. After falling behind 2-0, head coach Kevin Corrigan's squad scored seven straight goals to win its tenth straight season-opener. Senior midfielder Max Pfeifer and sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt led the Fighting Irish with two goals apiece.

    In the pool, the men's swimming & diving team earned its fifth BIG EAST title. The Irish totaled 887 points, topping two-time defending champion Louisville (859.5) and host school Pittsburgh (520). Junior Bill Bass was named the meet's Most Outstanding Swimmer, and head coach Tim Welsh was named Swimming Coach of the Year. Last week, freshman Nick Nemetz was named Diver of the Year and Caiming Xie was selected as Diving Coach of the Year, so Saturday's awards gave Notre Dame a sweep of the conference postseason trophies.

    At about 10 pm ET on Saturday, it looked like the men's basketball team's seven-game winning streak was destined to end in Philadelphia. Head coach Mike Brey's Fighting Irish trailed Villanova by 16 points at halftime, but the Irish rallied, thanks in part to Pat Connaughton's big night behind the arc. The freshman knocked down seven three-pointers, leading the improbable comeback and 74-70 overtime win to keep the winning streak alive.

    The women's lacrosse team kicked off a new era on Sunday afternoon with a 17-14 victory over Stanford. Sophomore Lindsay Powell netted five goals, while junior Jaimie Morrison chipped in four and senior tri-captain Maggie Tamasitis tallied six assists, to lift new head coach Christine Halfpenny to a win in her first game with the Irish.

    In the Big Apple, the men's track & field team hoisted its fifth BIG EAST Championship trophy, totaling 131 points at New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory, to hold off second-place Connecticut (103 points). The Irish were led by Kevin Schipper's third consecutive BIG EAST Indoor pole vault title, and Patrick Feeney (400m) and Jeremy Rae's (Mile) victories on the track.

    The fourth-ranked women's basketball team will look to finish off a strong weekend for the Notre Dame athletic program at 2 pm ET this afternoon on ESPN against #16 Louisville.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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