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Track: Irish finish third in tournament

Dan Murphy | Monday, April 10, 2006

Notre Dame left George Rider Track in Oxford, Ohio Saturday with seven wins and five new qualifying marks for the quickly approaching Big East Tournament. Both the men’s and women’s teams finished in third overall with 113 and 120 points, respectively.

The host RedHawks took first place for both groups in the 12-team meet.

Freshman Mary Saxer managed to qualify for the NCAA regional meet with her victory in the pole vault competition. Her 3.8-meter (12 feet, 5 inches) leap was the second highest mark cleared in the conference so far this year. She also landed a spot in the program’s top-five all-time marks, tying senior Jaime Volkmer for fifth place.

With a smaller squad, Notre Dame’s focus was directed towards getting conference qualifying marks rather than wins. The five new additions to the conference meet are Elizabeth Philipp (steeplechase), Lauren Biscardi (high jump), Kellen Lewis (400 meter dash), Jeff Mensch (discus) and Mike Schubert (hammer throw). The Irish now have 15 athletes headed to Storrs, Conn. for the Big East meet.

“I think as long as we stay healthy, we have a good chance of winning the Big East,” Irish sprinter Okechi Ogbuokiri said.

Along with Mensch and Schubert, the Notre Dame throwers were able to dominate their competition, collecting 39 points on the men’s side and 27 for the women.

Sophomore Kyle Annen continued his success with his second consecutive win in the hammer throw with a distance of 53.42 meters.

“He is really focusing on his form a lot recently, and his body awareness is getting better as he continues to take more throws.” Mensch said.

While Garet Koxlien’s throw was about three meters shorter, it was enough to land him third place. Koxlien blew away the competition in the discus event, out-hurling the second place finisher by nearly four meters. His mark of 50.39 left him just short of the 51.70 meters needed to qualify for the national meet in May.

Freshman Anna Weber posted second and third-place finishes in the shot put and hammer throw for the Notre Dame women. Her distances improved her standing in the Big East in both events, placing her fifth overall in the shot put.

Other winners for the Irish included Ryan Postel and Maryann Erigha, who both finished first in the 200-meter races. The sprinters have now captured three individual titles in the outdoor season. Erigha’s time of 24.05 seconds tied her personal best set at the Cal Poly Invitational on March 18.

“After Coach gave us the last weekend off, we were both pretty fresh. [Erigha] ran pretty well,” said Ogbuokiri, who finished third overall in the same race.

With less than a month until the trip to Connecticut for the Big East Championships, the Irish will attempt to stay on top of their game in order to complete track’s triple crown by winning championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.