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Split Notre Dame team grabs qualifying marks

Bill Brink | Monday, April 30, 2007

In the last meet before the Big East championship, Notre Dame garnered 11 Big East qualifying marks as well as four NCAA Mideast regional qualifying marks this weekend. The team split up, with some athletes competing at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, and others traveling to the Hillsdale Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Mich. One of the four regional qualifications went to junior Austin Wechter, who ran the 400-meter hurdles at the Drake Relays in a time of 52.34 seconds. “I was able to concentrate on my own race,” Wechter said. “I’d done a lot of work on it. I’d had some good races up until then so I just had to put everything together. I knew I was going to put everything together in this race.”Wechter’s time was his best of the season. Since he qualified for regionals last year, the qualifying mark was weighing heavily on his mind. “I was pretty frustrated all year not being able to get the regional qualifier,” Wechter said. “It’s pretty much all I’ve been concentrating on. I’m just glad it’s off my back now. There was a lot of stress trying to get that regional qualifier out of the way.”Two Irish relays ran very well over the weekend. The 4×1600 relay took first at the Drake Relays, setting a school record with their time of 16:21.27. That time was 16 seconds better than the rest of the field.Senior Todd Ptacek, sophomore Patrick Smyth, junior Jake Watson and senior Kurt Benninger made up the relay team. This is the second consecutive year and fifth time overall the Irish have won the mile relay at Drake.The 4×800 relay took second place at Drake, crossing with a time of 7:22.42. Junior Adam Currie, freshman Cameron Eckert, junior John Cavanaugh and senior Thomas Chamney made up the team, which ran the second-fastest time in school history.Freshman Jaclyn Espinoza increased her regional qualifying distance in the discus, winning the event at Hillsdale with a throw of 49.76 meters. Freshman Elise Knutzen won the javelin for the second week in a row, taking the event at Hillsdale with a throw of 41.37 meters. Sophomore Anna Weber earned her regional berth in the hammer by throwing for 54.31 meters, her best throw of the season.Gaining Big East berths at Drake were junior Brett Adams, senior Dave Viken, freshman Matt Schipper and sophomores Tray Morgan and Jeff Mensch. Adams ran a personal-best 3:47.85 in the 1,500 meters. Viken and Schipper cleared 4.85 meters in the pole vault and improved their qualifications, while Morgan cleared 4.55 meters to earn his first qualification. Mensch threw the shot put a personal-best 46.87 meters to qualify.For the women at Hillsdale, junior Elizabeth Philipp and senior Ann Mazar both qualified for the conference championship. Philipp ran a personal-best 11:20.52 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, while Mazar also ran a personal-best in the 5,000 meters, crossing in 17:42.60.