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Men’s Track: Rincon excels in first season at Notre Dame

Kate Grabarek | Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jordan Rincon is off to a fast start – and middle, and finish.

The Irish freshman middle-distance runner has won an event at both of the team’s meets so far, outrunning several of his upperclassman teammates.

“I’m happy with the early success,” Rincon said. “I didn’t really expect it, but I’m really competitive and I’m a sore loser. I don’t like to lose. I push myself at practice all the time. I mean, I knew I could come here and compete, which is all I wanted to do.”

At the Blue and Gold Meet on Dec. 5, Rincon easily won the men’s 400-meter race with a time of 48.34, a full second-and-a-half better than the mark needed to qualify for the Big East Championships.

Rincon followed that with a close win in the 600-meter contest Saturday at the Indiana Opener. He defeated Irish senior Billy Buzaid by .4 seconds to take the top spot. Buzaid finished second.

Rincon said he and Buzaid run together in practice, along with two other upperclassmen.

“Our group is really competitive,” Rincon said. “We all practice together and push each other.”

The four met during Rincon’s visit to campus last spring, and he said they made the transition to college easier for him.

Rincon said the 400-meter race is one of the most grueling events in track.

“You can’t pace yourself like you do for the 800, and you can’t burn off the first 200,” he said. “It really takes strength and speed and endurance and everything, so it’s pretty tough.”

Just like when he runs the event, Rincon is determined not to fade too early in the season.

“I want to win the Big East in the 400,” he said. “It’s lofty, and it will be tough, but that’s what I’ve been set on since I got here.”

Rincon did not begin running until his freshman year of high school, but it soon became clear that he would be able to run at the college level.

“My coaches in high school really prepared me, starting junior year, to go to the next level,” he said. “That’s all we really talked about.”

Although he went to high school in Las Vegas, Rincon grew up in a southwest suburb of Chicago and his family lives in LaPorte, Ind. Because of that, he has been a Notre Dame fan his entire life.

“I grew up watching the games,” he said. “My family has had season tickets since like the ’40s. I’ve gone to games since I was five.”

It was easy, then, to agree to come run for the Irish, and Rincon said he’s glad he did.

“I’ve always wanted to come to Notre Dame,” he said. “I love it. My dorm’s a lot of fun, we all have a good time. I just like the community here at Notre Dame. It’s really high on school spirit, and I really like that. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Except, of course, at the finish line of the Big East Championships.