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ND Women’s Track: Irish runners earn three wins at Indiana Relays

Sam Gans | Monday, January 31, 2011

The Irish had three first-place finishes to close out the Indiana Relays in Bloomington, Ind. Friday and Saturday.

Notre Dame, who also had five second-place finishes, competed against Indiana, Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Missouri State and Southeast Missouri, among other schools. The Irish did not come out on top in any of their relays, but made a strong showing across the board in individual competitions.

Junior Molly Hirt returned to her hometown of Bloomington with a bang, winning the 3000-meter race in 9:57.62.

Freshman Jaclyn Winkle won the 400-meter dash in 57.92, while sophomore Madeline Casanova finished first in the shot put with a distance of 13.72 meters.

Sophomore Rebecca Tracy, who recorded the second-fastest mile time in the country last week, came in sixth in the mile at 4:47.70. Senior Natalie Johnson was third in the 600-meter, and freshman Michelle Brown finished the 400-meter dash in fifth place.

Brown has made a noticeably quick adjustment to competing in college track.

“[For] Michelle, that was definitely a step in the right direction,” Irish coach Tim Connelly said. “She’s a freshman, and a lot of times with freshmen, it takes them a while to figure out where they are. I thought this weekend was a really nice competitive effort.”

In the field events, the Irish had a pair of impressive finishes from senior Jasmine Williams’ fifth place finish in long jump at 5.56 meters and senior Rudy Atang’s third in shot put, with a distance of 15.10 meters. The weekend continued a strong line of successful indoor performances for Atang, who returned to the field after suffering from a severe ankle injury.

“Rudy missed most of the fall with ankle surgery,” Connelly said. “So the fact that she’s throwing so well this early is a real pleasant surprise.”

The Indiana Relays were good preparation for later in the season, Connelly said. Not only were there many competitive squads, but competing on the indoor track at Indiana will be beneficial for the future, as well.

“One of the reasons we went down there is because it’s a 200-meter bank track, which, quite honestly, most of the country runs on,” Connelly said. “We’re kind of spoiled. We run on the huge 320-meter track all the time [at Notre Dame].

So one of the reasons we try to go to some meets on smaller tracks before the championship meets is to give them that kind of experience.”

The Irish are next in action at the Meyo Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Loftus Sports Complex.