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Track: Split squad travels to top meets

Bill Brink | Friday, April 27, 2007

The toughness of Notre Dame’s competition will jump to a higher level this weekend.

Some athletes will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in the Drake Relays, while others will head to Hillsdale, Mich., to compete in the Hillsdale Gina Relays. Both relays are notorious for the high level of competition.

Freshman thrower Jaclyn Espinoza isn’t fazed by the competition. Instead, she challenges herself.

“Ever since I’ve been throwing since I was young, I’ve always looked at it as a competition against myself and my marks,” she said. “Even being at this higher level, I still look at this as a competition with myself.”

Although Espinoza has won an event at the college level, she feels the she is still her main competition.

“Yes, I’m still trying to get past the other athletes at this level,” she said. “But most of what I’m trying to do is get past my marks and what I can do to improve.”

As a young athlete, Espinoza competed in both throwing and jumping events. In fourth grade, she competed at the Junior Olympics in high jump, long jump and shot put. She liked competing in multiple events because it gave her the chance to see which one she liked best and in which events she performed best.

“I guess shot put and discus were a little above normal, so I just stuck with it,” she said.

Personal-best throws drive Espinoza and give her motivation to keep up her hard work.

“It helps me to continue to work hard just because I know that what I’m doing is helping me to improve,” she said. “And when I get that improvement, it just helps me to work even harder to continue to keep improving my mark.”

Espinoza will not throw the shot put this weekend – she’ll compete in just the discus. This week in practice, Espinoza has focused on controlling her throwing motion in the ring.

“We’ve just been working on getting faster in the ring, which is helping to get the discus farther,” she said. “Being fast, and still keeping the technique the same.”

Although the Big East championships are looming, Espinoza said she approaches this meet the same way as any other and feels no added pressure.

“Every meet is another chance to get a big throw, and that’s how I look at every meet, to get a mark farther than what I have gone before,” she said. “I try not to get too worried about things. I just go to the meet and try and do my best. I know I’m pretty well-matched in the Big East. [This weekend] will probably be a challenge.”