March 21, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After collectively earning a plethora of merits during the indoor track and field season, the University of Notre Dame men's and women's track and field teams embark on yet another journey of success as the Irish open up the 2013 outdoor season Friday in Houston, Texas, at the 31st annual Victor Lopez Invitational on the campus of Rice University.
The Victor Lopez Invitational will mark the first of nine regular season meets as the Irish begin their road to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Last season Notre Dame qualified 14 recipients which included Martin Grady (10,000m), Jessica Rydberg (10,000m), Kaila Barber (400mH), Megan Yanik (400mH, 4x400m), Patrick Feeney (400m, 4x400m), Rebecca Tracy (1,500m), Jade Barber (4x400m), Michelle Brown (4x400m) Brendan Dougherty (4x400m) and Chris Giesting (4x400m). Tracy advanced the farthest last season for the Irish, as she placed 12th in the 1,500m run finals with a time of 4:21.92 to earn second team All-America accolades.
This marks the second consecutive year Notre Dame opens up the season at the Victor Lopez Invitational. The Irish came away with 10 top-three finishes last year during the season opener.
Field (21): Dallas Baptist, Dillard, Harvard, Houston, Houston Baptist, Huston-Tillotson, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Northeastern, Notre Dame, Prairie View, Rice, Sam Houston, St. John's, Stephen F. A., Texas A&M-CC, Texas Lutheran, Texas Southern, Texas-Pan AM, Western Michigan.
A total of 39 athletes will make the trip for Notre Dame.
Women Competing (23): Kelsey Amarosa, Margaret Bamgbose, Jade Barber, Michelle Brown, Kelly Burke, Madeline Casanova, Amanda Chamblee, Jessie Christian, Vivien Devaney, Chrissy Finkel, Emily Frydrych, Mary Esther Gourdin, Kaileen Healy, Kendra Jennings, Amber Lalla, Lauren Leniart, Emily Morris, Fiona Paladino, Ann Polcari, Katherine Stultz, Aijah Urssery, Jaclyn Winkel, Megan Yanik
Men Competing (16): Steve Blazer, Andrew Brock, Jarrod Buchanon, Kevin Byrne, Brendan Dougherty, Aaron Dunn, Patrick Feeney,Eddy Gibbons, Chris Giesting, Keith Mesidor, Dominick Padovano, Logan Renwick, Walter Schafer, Jordan Stumph, Anthony Thomas, DJ Thornton
The Irish bring an impressive resume to the spring season as both teams combined to garner a total of 10 indoor track All-America citations after Notre Dame's stellar performances at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The 10 Irish All-Americans marked the largest combined total chosen for the honor in the history of the program. The closest attempt to this total came in 2002 when a total of nine Irish All-Americans were awarded the honor from both the men's and women's team.
Furthermore, with the women's team collecting their third Indoor BIG EAST Championship title and the men's team earning runner-up honors, the squads accomplished a first and second-place finish for the first time since 2007. The women's team achieved a new school record in points with 141 and the men's team extended their streak of finishing runner-up or better at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships to seven consecutive years.
Great Lakes Region Women's Track Athlete of the Year, BIG EAST's Most Outstanding Track Performer and All-American Jade Barber, will be a major factor during the outdoor season for the Irish in the sprint and hurdle events. The sophomore, who is coached by the 2013 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Women's Coaching Staff of the Year and by the Great Lakes Region Assistant Coach of the Year Alan Turner, is joined by a highly skilled roster as the women's team finished the indoor season at No. 17 in the nation according to the March 5 USTFCCA ranking polls.
Barber and sister Kaila Barber will work towards their postseason efforts as each hold a total of three ALL-BIG EAST outdoor citations and currently are the only active roster members to begin the season with three All-BIG EAST honors. Brown, Aijah Urssery, Tracy and Kelly Curran each carry two All-BIG EAST outdoor honors. Gabby Gonzales, Alexa Aragon and Yanik each have one.
On the men's side Jeremy Rae currently holds three All-BIG EAST outdoor honors, followed by Feeney and Giesting with two each. Feeney (46.03-fourth) and Giesting (46.99-eighth) each were crowned All-Americans at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 400m. The pair was each named BIG EAST's Men's Track Athlete of the Week on one occasion during the indoor season. Mitchell Gormley, Andrew Brock, Anthony Thomas, Randall Babb, Jack Favorite, Logan Renwick and Ted Glasnow round out the list of All-BIG EAST outdoor recipients with one.
Joining Barber on the women's side is All-American and the BIG EAST Indoor Championships mile champion, senior Rebecca Tracy. Tracy who finished eighth in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships (4:39.38) harbors an abundance of talent. The veteran distance runner enters the outdoor season after breaking the school, track and meet record in the mile March 2 at the Alex Wilson Invitational (4:33.53). Tracy additionally holds the school's best 1,500 outdoor time (4:13.48) that she accomplished last season at the NCAA Championships.
Two-time All-American Feeney will play a major role for the men's squad as he ranks in the nation's top-10 in the 400m and holds the school record in the event (45.92). Teammate Giesting, who also ranks in the nation's top tier in the 400m, set the schools best time in the event during the outdoor season stopping the clock at 46.03 at the BIG EAST Championships.
Rae, Giesting and Babb return as a premier threat, as the trio was a part of the 2012 indoor national champion distance medley relay team last season after setting the winning time of 9:35.48. The feat marked the first time in school history that Irish student-athletes were crowned national champions since 2001 when Ryan Shay won the 10,000m.
Following the Victor Lopez Invitational, Notre Dame will split up and travel to two separate meets, which include the Stanford Invitational (Palo Alto, Calif.) and the Oliver Nikilof (Cincinnati, Ohio) March 29-30.