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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This weekend at the Loftus Sports Center, the Notre Dame track & field team will host the 25th annual Meyo Invitational. The Meyo Invitational is known around the country as one of the premier track meets of the indoor season, and this year is no exception. The meet kicks off today with the long jump at 4 pm, before the 60m hurdlers hit the track at 5 pm. Other highlights from tonight's competition include the 5,000m, distance medley relay, men's pole vault and women's high jump. The action resumes at 10 am on Saturday morning, beginning with the 3,000m run. The women's triple jump is the first field event for Day 2, and it is scheduled to begin at 11 am. There will be countless exciting races throughout the weekend, but the meet's biggest draws are a pair of distance events on Saturday afternoon - the Meyo Mile and the Ryan Shay men's 3,000m run. If you can only make it to a couple of events, these are the two to watch, as each attracts some of the nation's best collegiate distance runners. Head on over to Loftus right after the conclusion of the men's basketball game against Marquette to catch the mile at 3 pm, and stick around for the 3,000m at 4:25 pm. Three Notre Dame runners - J.P. Malette, Jeremy Rae and Jordan Carlson - highlight the field in the men's Meyo event, which also includes competitors from Arkansas, Iowa, Windsor (ON), Butler, Tulsa, Michigan State and Kent State. The women's race features Notre Dame's Alexa Aragon and Kelly Curran, as well as 13 other runners from schools across the Midwest. The four-minute mile was once thought to be an unattainable mark, until 1954, when England's Roger Bannister became the first to break the barrier. While the sub-four minute mile is not held on the same pedestal that it once was, it is nevertheless, an outstanding accomplishment for any runner and for running fans, there are few things more exciting than seeing a sub-four mile in person. If past history is any indication, don't be surprised to see one or more runners achieve this feat on Saturday. One of the most memorable races in recent history came in 2003, when Notre Dame's Luke Watson won the Meyo Mile in a school-record time of 3:57.83. Watson's victory highlighted an event in which the top five runners all finished under four minutes. Two years later, four runners broke the four-minute mark, including two Notre Dame athletes, sophomore Kurt Benninger, and Watson, running as an unattached competitor. At last year's meet, Rae, then a sophomore, won the Meyo Mile in 3:59.62. Michigan's Kevin Sullivan holds the meet record, an impressive 3:55.90 mark set in 1995. Ten years after Sullivan's record-breaking performance, Lindsey Gallo, also a Michigan Wolverine, ran a 4:37.97 in the women's Meyo Mile. The other main event is named in honor of 2001 Notre Dame graduate Ryan Shay, who tragically passed away in 2007 following a massive heart attack while running the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in New York City. Shay is the most decorated athlete in Notre Dame track & field history. In addition to his 2001 NCAA title in the 10,000m, Shay was a nine-time All-American and nine-time BIG EAST champion. Last year, Terefe Ejigu of Eastern Michigan won the 3,000m race (equivalent to 1.86 miles) in 8:08.58. The junior will look to defend his title on Saturday at 4:25 pm against 24 other runners, including Notre Dame's Joe Miller and Kelly Lynch. Of course, there will be no shortage of excitement in the various sprint events either, and those events may be even more compelling if you are also a Notre Dame football fan. After competing in last weekend's Indiana Relays, sophomore Bennett Jackson and freshmen Josh Atkinson and George Atkinson III will each make their first home appearance on the track squad. Jackson will run in heat 6 of the 60m hurdles, which begin at approximately 5:25 pm this evening. All three will compete in the 60m dash at 6:10 pm today. Josh Atkinson is set for heat 1, while his brother George will be in heat 3. Jackson is scheduled for heat 6. The Atkinson brothers will also hit the track tomorrow at 2:05 pm for the 200m dash. Look for Josh in section 6 and George in section 8. To fans of traditional team sports, track & field might not seem like the most exciting spectator activity. However, the Meyo Invitational attracts some of the sport's best talent from around the country, and I can promise you that if you are in the South Bend area this weekend, the trip to Loftus Center will be well worth it. - Josh Flynt ('11)
For those who will be around Notre Dame this weekend, prepare for the craziness that's about to hit campus. Over a 48-hour period from Friday through Sunday evening, there are eleven varsity athletic events scheduled at the university. Here's a quick look at the schedule: Friday:
Men's Tennis vs. William & Mary at 6 p.m.
Hockey vs. #15 Michigan at 7:35 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) Saturday:
Indoor Track Notre Dame Invitational at 10 a.m.
Women's Basketball vs. Villanova at 1 p.m. (UND.com)
Women's Tennis vs. Cincinnati at 1 p.m.
Women's Swimming vs. Michigan State at 2 p.m.
Men's Swimming vs. Michigan State at 2 p.m.
Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse at 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Hockey vs. #15 Michigan at 7:35 p.m. (CBS Sports Network) Sunday:
Women's Tennis vs. Missouri at 11 a.m.
Women's Tennis vs. IPFW at 5 p.m. There won't be any tailgating, Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches or team walk to the stadium, but the amount of traffic on campus might make it feel more like a football Saturday than a mid-winter weekend.
AL.com - A group of University of Notre Dame student-athletes and administrators wrapped up a week of volunteering in tornado relief Thursday on a fall break service trip organized by Notre Dame and the University of Alabama. The trip, called Fight for Tide, brought 24 students and six administrators to Tuscaloosa to work in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities partnered with Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids. Students representing the Notre Dame baseball, cross country, cheerleading, fencing, men's golf, women's lacrosse, rowing and track and field teams were selected for the trip based on essays they wrote. Sarah Smith, program coordinator for student athlete welfare and development at Notre Dame, said the idea to help Tuscaloosa began with a former Notre Dame employee who currently works in the ticket office at Alabama. He emailed the athletics office at Notre Dame and asked them to collect relief supplies that Alabama would pay to ship. Smith, who is originally from a town an hour away from Joplin, Missouri, began to come up with an idea of a service trip when students started talking over the summer about going to down to Tuscaloosa to help. "I just kind of ran with the idea and started calling people to see if it would be a possibility, and people started wanting to support it and make it happen," Smith said. After arriving Saturday, the group has worked at two sites in Alberta City, clearing storm debris on lots where new houses are planned to be built. They also met with Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and went on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, had dinner with Notre Dame's Alabama alumni club at Dreamland, attended Mass with students at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on the Alabama campus and toured the baseball and softball facilities. On Thursday, at a site just off University Boulevard on 21st Avenue East, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy and several players joined the group from Notre Dame in clearing debris from destroyed houses and carrying limbs to the street. Notre Dame baseball player Tommy Chase said the experience changed his perspective on the important things in life. "I look at this as a great opportunity to help where there's a need," Chase said. "We get caught up at school doing a lot things for ourselves, whether it's in sports or in the classroom. Those are all great things, but it's revolved around our own needs and goals. Being able to come down here and help others is really important for my own personal development, but also I want to hopefully inspire this community in some way." Notre Dame sophomore cheerleader Erin Garfield took time away from her team to travel to Tuscaloosa because the fall break gave her time to join the service trip. On Saturday night, she'll be cheering on the sidelines as the Irish face USC in South Bend. "It's just been a great experience all around, hearing all these stories from people who experienced the tornado and getting to meet all these amazing people, Garfield said. Alabama sophomore softball player Ryan Iamurri said she was glad to share the experience of volunteering in Alberta City with the students from Notre Dame. "When you live here, you kind of get back in your normal routine, and if you don't cross this bridge (to Alberta), you forget what it's like," Iamurri said."It was so nice of them because we realize there's still so much more to do. To come out here with them is special."
When you consider all the technology available today, it's downright amazing to think how archaic athletic communications were just a few short years ago. Need the latest University of Notre Dame football statistics? They'd be calculated and typed by hand on a manual typewriter (eventually the "big innovation" IBM Selectric typewriter came along), reproduced and mailed on Sunday nights and maybe you'd receive them via ordinary mail by Thursday. Need them quicker than that? The hit commodity in technology in the 1970s was the Xerox Telecopier (a facsimile machine) that required either four or six minutes (depending on how clear you wanted the type to read) to send a single page of copy to another Telecopier on the other end. If a media representative out of town needed your entire news release, depth chart and stats, it might take an hour or more to send it all. Breaking news happening on one of the Irish athletic fields? There was no simple way to communicate it. Pick up the telephone and dictate. Call media outlets one at a time to alert them about a hiring or press conference. Three technology advances changed everything in the sports information world everywhere - cell phones, the Internet and e-mail. For years the joke around the Notre Dame athletic offices was that the Irish quarterback on a given day might break his leg and - given that practices were closed to the media - there was some chance no one would find out until the next day. There was no texting, no Facebook - maybe no way for the word to get out other than old-fashioned word of mouth. The World Wide Web prompted the offering of athletic sites like und.com that debuted in 1995. In the beginning sites like Notre Dame's offered strictly the basics - mostly what was available via traditional press releases. There was no video in the "early days," and media members weren't yet routinely carrying computers or laptops. So, quite often, the plea to media to utilize school sites for time-sensitive items like statistics went unheeded. About that same time, cell phones changed the face of telecommunications. When current athletics staffers consider all the detailed scheduling and adjustments that go into, for example, a weeklong stay for a postseason bowl game, it's hard to imagine how those events ever occurred without cell phones. The Orange Bowl provided some new contraption-style portable phones to Notre Dame reps one year, but they looked more like walkie-talkies than the current variety and they didn't exactly fit in your pocket.
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