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Track and Field: Rae defends title, Irish notch six victories at Meyo Invite

Joe Monardo | Sunday, February 5, 2012

The 25th installment of the annual Meyo Invitational played out Friday and Saturday in the Loftus Sports Complex and contained all of the elite competition and impressive performances that have come to define the event since its inception.

The host Irish captured six victories, and the field as a whole rewrote seven meet records during the weekend.

Highlighting the meet for Notre Dame was junior middle distance runner Jeremy Rae, who defended his title in the Meyo Mile, a signature event of the Invitational. Rae completed the distance in less than four minutes for the second consecutive year with his time of 3:59.31.

“It was unbelievable,” junior sprinter Brendan Dougherty said. “He is an amazing athlete. It was a lot of fun to watch. Second year winning the male mile is a big deal, so I think everybody on the team is proud of him.”

Rae had to battle through the pressure that comes with an attempt to repeat a winning performance, especially with his parents making the trip down from Ontario to watch their son race.

“The time was kind of a bonus, getting under four is always fun,” Rae said. “But really seeing as how it’s at home and in front of all my teammates, and my parents were here, and friends came down to watch the race I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure I won the race … just to be able to [win] again is a big relief and a lot of pressure off my shoulders.”

Sophomore sprinter Patrick Feeney also scored a victory for the Irish with his school record time of 46.73 in the 400-meter race.

The reigning conference champion in the event, Feeney crossed the finish line just .07 seconds ahead of freshman sprinter Chris Geisting, who took second.

“They are both excellent runners and I think they make each other better,” Dougherty said. “Pat gets out really fast and that makes Chris get out faster. Chris finishes so strong that it makes Pat finish stronger. They are great runners.”

The pair also contributed to an Irish win in the 4×400-meter relay, in which Dougherty, Feeney, sophomore sprinter Jarrod Buchanon and Giesting recorded a time of 3:10.4. Giesting overtook the Rutgers team with less than 100 meters remaining to secure the come-from-behind victory for Notre Dame.

“In years past, our 4×400 hasn’t been as strong, so it’s extremely exciting that we’ve been doing so well,” Dougherty said. “With guys like Chris and Pat, it’s always fun to watch because you never know. Even if we are behind, we probably have a chance to win, just knowing that Chris is getting the baton last.”

On the women’s side, freshman Emily Frydrych placed first in the 1000-meter relay with her Big East championships qualifying time of 2:48.94 on Friday for Notre Dame’s first victory of the weekend. On the following day, Frydrych placed second in the unseeded mile and qualified for the conference meet again with her time of 4:53.95.

Freshman sprinter/hurdler Kaila Barber won the 60-meter hurdles and recorded a Big East championships qualifying time of 8.44 on the meet’s second day. Also on Saturday, sophomore sprinter Aijah Urssery captured the third and final victory for the Irish women with her Big East qualifying time of 7.48 in the 60-meter dash.

The meet witnessed record-breaking performances in the women’s long jump, women’s distance medley relay, men’s 1,000-meter run, women’s weight throw, men’s 500-meter run, men’s long jump and women’s 800-meter run.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Dougherty said. “The level of talent that was there, I would guess it rivaled anywhere in the country in that day, so it’s a lot of fun to be in a meet like that.”

With only one meet remaining before the Big East championships begin on Feb. 18, the Irish feel confident that they are ready to face the conference’s best athletes.

“Certain events, we look really good … across the board we are pretty good,” Rae said. “The Big East [championships] is [one of the most important meets] of the season because everybody is working together to drive the team to win.”

The Irish return to action on Feb. 10 when they travel to Allendale, Mich., for the Grand Valley State University Big Meet.



Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu