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Track and Field: Runners end on top in Blue & Gold meet

John Helms | Sunday, December 6, 2009

It was the first chance for many of the Notre Dame athletes to showcase their talents this year, as the Irish opened up their season on Friday with the annual Blue and Gold meet. 

 
They didn’t disapoint, as the Irish posted 17 first place finishes against visiting schools DePaul, Detroit Mercy and Marquette.
 
While the Irish graduated 18 seniors from last year’s team, Notre Dame coach Joe Piane said he thought this year’s squad was just as talented, and that he was excited to watch his team perform in their first test of the season. 
 
“We’re really interested in the sprinters and field events kids because they have had no opportunities to compete, whereas the cross country kids have been competing throughout the fall,” Piane said.
 
Piane’s team didn’t disappointed, as the sprinters and field event athletes helped the Irish to an impressive 48 Big East qualifying marks. 
 
There were many highlights for the for the Irish on the field. Notre Dame dominated the men’s pole vaut, in which Irish vaulters sophomore Kevin Schipper, senior Matt Schipper, senior Jim Merchun and junior Andrew Kolbeck posted four Big East qualifying marks.
The Irish also took the top three spots in the women’s long jump as sophomore Maddie Buttinger, senior Jaime Minor and Jasmine Williams finished in the top three spots.
 
“Our coaches were really happy with us,” Buttinger said. “A lot of people on our jump team made Big East so it went really well.”
 
Buttinger had quite a day for herself, with a fourth place finish in the women’s 60-meter hurdle, a seventh place finish in the women’s shot put, and a sixth place finish in the women’s 500.
 
“I was pretty happy with how I was able to do” said Buttinger.
 
On the track, senior Blake Choplin, sophomore Jack Howard, senior Cameron Eckert, freshman Jeremy Rae and junior Kevin Labus set five Big East qualifications for the Irish in the men’s 1,000. This was only one of the highlights in a dominant performance by Irish track athletes, which  included a total of 12 first place finishes. Senior Jake Walker was the top finisher in the men’s 5,000, junior Kelly Langhans took the top spot in the women’s 800 meter and senior Brier Steenberge won the men’s 800. In the women’s 500, the Irish recorded three Big East qualifying marks by senior Joanna Schultz, junior Natalie Johnson and senior Samantha Williams.
 
The Irish are now off until Jan. 15, at which point they will host the Notre Dame Indoor Opener at the Loftus.