Marquette Track and Field: Small Squad Out to Notre Dame with Big Goals

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics
Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Marquette’s track and field team will send four of its best athletes to South Bend this weekend to compete at Notre Dame’s Alex Wilson Invitational. Coach Bert Rogers decided to take a small group to Indiana, as most of the team’s focus shifts outdoors after the Big East Indoor Conference Championship.

The meet is one of many across the country with NCAA athletes hoping to hit a qualifying standard that would put them in the top 16 for their respective events. Only the top 16 marks and times will advance to the NCAA Championship at Arkansas.

It would take a herculean leap for Marquette to send anyone to the NCAA Indoor Championship in 2013. Kyle Winter is the closest to a Sweet 16 ranking, and he is 53rd in the men’s 800-meter run. His all-time best currently sits at 1:50.62, which was set at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational on Feb. 2.

In order to stay on the bubble and have a chance at an NCAA qualifier, Winter would need to drop his outdoor personal best from 1:49.84, set during the 2011 outdoor season, to 1:49.03 or faster after this weekend.

Instead the focus will be on setting a personal best for Winter and possibly sneaking into an NCAA berth. In practice, Winter has been simulating races and improving his race plan.

“We want to come around 52 or 53 for the quarter mile and then push it,” Rogers said. “The idea of the workout is to run that fast through the 400 and push through the 500, because we want to make that time of push before his kick.”

Also running this weekend is senior Spencer Agnew in the men’s mile and freshman Molly Hanson in the women’s mile. Both are coming off solid performances at the Big East Championship, and assistant coach Mike Nelson thought they would do well with one more chance at a personal best.

The bubble times for the men and women’s mile are 3:59.18 and 4:37.55, respectively. If either Agnew or Hanson were to pull off a surprise race this late in the season and meet those marks, they would hold the fastest mile time in Marquette history.

The season has progressively improved for Agnew since he stumbled at the Meyo Invitational. He ran 4:15 for the mile at Grand Valley State’s Big Meet and anchored Marquette’s distance medley relay team at the Big East Championship to an eighth place finish.

Coach Rogers decided to run Agnew, who has been rattled by injuries in the past, at Notre Dame to take advantage of his healthy indoors performance this season. He said he knows how much it would take to make history and move onto the NCAA Championship, but he heads to Notre Dame with his own race plan.

“I’m just going in there to run fast and try to set a personal best,” Agnew said. “I’ll just try and get on the train (the pack) is going on and see where it takes me.”

Cheldon Brown will be the last competitor for the Golden Eagles on Saturday, as he leads off the day at noon with the men’s high jump. Brown finished eighth at the Big East championship after a tiebreaker with four other jumpers. Teammate Michael Saindon was among those ties but took fourth overall with fewer misses.

After the Big East Championship, Brown came away a little disappointed with his performance, which factored into the decision to having him jump this weekend at Notre Dame so he could have one last good outing.

The Alex Wilson Invitational will most likely mark the end of the indoor track and field season for Marquette. The first outdoor meet is scheduled for March 14, when the Golden Eagles will travel to Tampa to compete at the USF Bulls Invitational.