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Track and Field: Both squads win in Houston

Aaron Sant-Miller | Monday, March 26, 2012

Both Irish squads were able to make a dominant impression in their first outdoor meet of the season, winning the Victor Lopez Invitational in Houston at Rice University.

“It was excellent,” Irish coach Joe Piane said. “We had good things on both sides, from both genders, and it was a pretty good meet.

“This meet was more individually based. So there were many athletes who could have helped us score a lot more who we didn’t end up taking.”

Piane highlighted the fact three of the four runners who captured an NCAA title in the distance medley during the indoor season stayed home, as well as senior Maddie Buttinger, who competes in multiple events.

Individually, the Irish started the first day well, capturing four victories. Both the men and the women nabbed the first spot in the hammer throw, as senior Andrew Hillis won with a toss of 54.62 meters and sophomore Vivien Devaney followed suit with a toss of 52.82 meters.

This dominance continued in the women’s 1,500-meter run, where five Irish runners were able to place in the top eight. Sophomore Kelly Curran, who finished first with a time of 4:26.80, headed off the pack. Sophomore Alexa Aragon was close behind, taking second with a time of 4:27.01. Piane said these performances stood out.

“Both girls ran exceptionally well and showed a lot,” Piane said.

The men also impressed, with senior Jordan Carlson claiming first place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Carlson led the competition with a time of 9:00.57, with other Irish runners also landing in the top-four. Senior Kelly Lynch took third with a time of 9:13.58 and senior Joe Miller took fourth with a time of 9:14.16.

On the second day of competition, the Irish were led by senior Kevin Schipper, who took first place in the pole vault with an impressive 5.15 meters. The Irish shined in the women’s pole vault as well. Sophomore Kelly Burke claimed second with a vault of 3.85 meters.

Freshman Kaila Barber continued the success with a runner-up finish in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing the race in 59.04. Also succeeding on the track were the Irish men who competed in the 400-meter dash. The group was headed by freshman Chris Giesting, who took second with a time of 46.59. Following close behind was sophomore Patrick Feeney, who took third with a time of 47.18.

The Irish men continued strong performances in the field events, as sophomores Andrew Brock and Logan Renwick both took third in their respective events. Brock excelled in the shot put, where he finished with a toss of 16.92 meters and Renwick impressed in the triple jump, with a leap of 14.38 meters.

The Irish men and women excelled in their team events as well, as both squads finished second in the 4×400-meter relay. The group of men, comprised of Giesting, Feeney, junior Brendan Dougherty and senior Mitchell Lorenz, cruised to their success with a time of 3:07.51, establishing a new school record, shattering one that had stood in place for nearly twenty years.

“That really stood out,” Piane said. “It was just a very good performance.”

Also making an impression were the women. Consisting of runners junior Natalie Gieger, sophomore Megan Yanik, freshmen Jade Barber and Kaila Barber, the 4×400-meter relay claimed their second-place spot with a group time of 3:39.67.

Piane couldn’t help but note that this was a step in the right direction, leading the team toward the end objective of this spring season.

“Our goal every year is to do well at the Big East meet and get people to the NCAAs and we’re well on our way to doing that,” Piane said.

The Irish will look to continue this impressive start to their outdoor campaign this week. The team will split up, with some athletes making the trek to the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Tex., on Wednesday and Thursday, others going to the Eastern Illinois Multi-Events Invitational in Charleston, Ill., on Thursday, and a final group travelling to the Purdue Poehlein Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., on Friday.


Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu