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Track and Field: Feeney makes a national impact right out of the blocks

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, February 8, 2012

After being an unlikely candidate for the Notre Dame track and field team, sophomore sprinter Patrick Feeney has come a long way in a short stretch of time, notching a school record along the way.

In fact, that is the key to Feeney’s success: covering long distances in short periods of time.

Last year as a freshman, the Indianapolis native captured the Big East title in the 400-meter indoor and outdoor races and earned All-American honors for his role in Notre Dame’s fourth place finish in the 4,000-meter distance relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Heading into his first season, Feeney said he never expected to have success on such a high level.

“It was actually surprising, because I knew coming in, based off the times I’ve had, I would be closer to the top 400[-meter] runners, but I think nationally I didn’t think I would do that well,” he said. “Running 47[-second 400-meter races] in high school, I figured I would just kind of be an average runner.”

In his debut season, Feeney proved himself to be well above average. After sweeping the 400-meter races at the Big East Championships, the young sprinter closed out his first season of collegiate track with his season best time of 47.04 at the NCAA Division I East Prelims.

“Once we got to the Big East [Championships], I had the top time going into it so I knew I definitely had a shot at winning that,” Feeney said. “Once I won at indoor and outdoor, going into the national meet at regionals, I think I was ranked 44th out of 48, and I ended up getting 16th, so I was really happy … to end on a good note.”

The stellar freshman campaign was a welcome surprise for Feeney, who in high school was uncertain that he would ever have the opportunity to compete for Notre Dame.

“My dad went to Notre Dame so I always wanted to come here but I didn’t actually think that I probably would,” he said. “Once I started doing well at track, I knew that could help me get in so I started talking to the coaches … once I found out I got accepted, I definitely wasn’t turning it down. Right when I got the letter I was definitely coming here.”

Having earned his spot at the University and on the track and field team, and even after putting forth a breakout 2011 season, Feeney is far from finished. Already this season, Feeney has bested his outdoor 400-meter time from last year. Even more impressively, Feeney did so indoors, where times are normally slower.

In the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame on Feb. 4, Feeney won the 400-meter race with a personal best and school record time of 46.73. The sophomore finished the race just .07 seconds ahead of freshman teammate Chris Giesting, who took second.

“That was awesome,” Feeney said. “Chris and I both thought we could get [the record], and we were like, ‘This is probably our best chance,’ because we had good competition and we had both split 46’s, which [would] beat the record, in relay. We definitely knew we could, it was just down to whoever gets it, gets it. That was just awesome, knowing that my name is going to be up on that board.”

Following his monumental victory in the 400-meter race, Feeney helped lead the Irish men’s 4×400-meter relay to victory.

“I probably enjoy the 4×400-meter race more [than the individual 400-meter race] just because there is more a team aspect and our team is actually really good this year and we have a good shot at going for the school record this year,” he said. “The 400 is a fun individual race, but the 4×400-meter relay is so much better because you get to share that with three other people on the team and just celebrating after a win is a lot better.”

This year’s men’s relay team ran a time of 3:10.41 at the Meyo Invitational, roughly two seconds slower than the school record time set in 1985. But if Feeney is to be believed, the 27-year old record won’t stand for much longer.


Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu