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Track and Field: Irish end season with strong indoor championships

Laura Coletti | Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Irish couldn’t have asked much more from the six athletes who competed at the Indoor National Championships on March 9 and 10.

The men’s distance medley relay team took home the national title. The team of senior Randall Babb, junior Jeremy Rae, senior Johnathan Shawel and freshman Chris Geisting ran a time of 9:35.48 to secure the victory.
Rae, the team’s anchor, said the teammates met the high expectations they had for themselves.

“Last year we were fourth in the relay and we figured that we could do a little better than that,” he said. “We were ranked fourth going in so we knew worst case scenario we’d finish fourth. The top seeded team was less than a second ahead of us so we were pretty confident going into it.”
Making the jump from a fourth-place finish to first place in a year’s time took improvement from everyone on the team, Rae said.

“Overall we ran a little better as a group, that’s really all it took,” Rae said. “For me personally, [my teammates] gave me the stick in the last leg in a really great position. Last year I was three or four seconds behind the leader when I got it, this year I was less than a second behind.”

This championship performance gives Rae and the rest of the team a good starting point for the spring outdoor season.

“I think it gives all of us a lot of confidence going into the outdoor season,” he said. “It for sure should give John [Shawel] a lot of confidence because he did really well, he ran 3:56 in the mile, and Chris [Geisting] ran the fastest split of anybody in the race. He should make outdoor [nationals] individually.

“It was Randy’s first time at the nationals, and it’s a new experience and he did a really outstanding job. I’m really looking forward to it too. It gives me confidence for my individual races knowing that I’ve beaten these guys before.”

On the heels of the championship performance was a big day for senior Maddie Buttinger, as she placed third in the pentathlon and broke the school record. The All-American’s score of 4,269 was her personal best and was 200 points more than Alyissa Hassan’s 2008 record as well as a 261-point improvement from her performance at the Big East championships.

“My goal was to break the school record, which was 60 points better than my personal best,” Buttinger said. “I knew that if I was able to do that, that I should place pretty well. My goal was to get top three, but I also really wanted to break the school record.”

After getting a slow start in the 60-meter hurdles, she rebounded and took top-three finishes in all remaining events, including two more personal records in the long jump and shot put.

“I knew going into the race that a lot of the other girls’ main events are hurdles, and that it’s one of my weaker events,” she said. “I mentally prepared myself to expect [to not place well]. For me personally it was a good race. I knew I had one of my strongest events after the hurdles so I’d make up places and spots there.”

Buttinger’s finish to her indoor season gives her momentum for the upcoming outdoor season.

“On paper I knew I could [perform well] but getting the marks I was capable of was really big for me,” Buttinger said. “It will be good for [the outdoor season too], hopefully I can keep the momentum going. My goals for this year had been all along to get top three in the nation for indoor and outdoor. [Doing well in indoor] sets me up a lot better [for outdoor], I have more confidence in myself to know that I can do it.”

Senior pole vaulter Kevin Schipper was also named an All-American as he placed fourth. The senior reached a personal best of 5.45 meters.

The Irish will begin their outdoor season this weekend at the Texas Relays at the University of Texas in Austin.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu