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Track and Field: Athletes perform in final meets before Big East championship

Joseph Monardo | Monday, April 30, 2012

In their final weekend before the Big East outdoor championships, the Irish had a successful weekend, with the team splitting up once again. While some athletes participated at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, a separate contingent made the trip to Hillsdale, Mich., for the Hillsdale Gina Relays.

At the Hillsdale Gina Relays, Irish sophomore thrower Andrew Brock turned in a second-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 16.66-meters. The meet offered a final preparation before the conference championships and served its purpose, Brock said.

“The competition wasn’t like the competition we will be seeing at the Big East meet, but there were definitely some good performers there,” he said. “It was nice to have a meet where we can all go and get six throws in before we go to Big Easts.

“Next week, when we go to Big Easts, we need a solid three throws on our first three attempts to make sure we make the finals, and then another solid three throws, so that was the real benefit this weekend – being able to get six throws in. We really emphasized that this week.”

Friday’s runner-up finish was Brock’s third consecutive top-two result, and comes a week after he set a personal-best throw of 17.20-meters at the Polytan Invitational. For he and his teammates it is important to perform well heading into the Big East championships, Brock said.

“Second, first, third, however we all came in, it is … a good confidence boost coming into Big Easts,” the Seymour, Ind., native said.

Among the number of Irish athletes who participated in the Drake Relays over the weekend was freshman sprinter Chris Giesting, who participated in the 4×400-meter relay. His foursome finished ninth overall, just 0.2 seconds shy of making the last spot in the finals.  

“It was kind of a disappointment,” Giesting said. “We wanted to make the finals, which is kind of a difficult thing to do since there are a lot of good teams that go there. But we came in seeded sixth … we got second in our heat, which is usually good enough to go to the finals, but there were a few teams that snuck ahead based on times.”

The Irish women’s 4×800-meter team, composed of sophomores Kelly Curran and Alexa Aragon, senior Allison Schroeder and junior Rebecca Tracy, captured a first-place finish with a time of 8:35.89, while the men’s 4×800-meter team finished third in 7:25.88. Also turning in a strong performance for the Irish was the women’s 4×400-meter relay team, which used a personal-record time of 3:40.76 to earn a sixth-place finish. Irish senior pole vaulter Kevin Schipper continued his impressive outdoor season by coming in second with a height of 5.30-meters.

Overall, the Notre Dame athletes were pleased with their performance at the Drake Relays, Giesting said.

“It was pretty much a successful weekend for everyone,” the freshman said. “It was a good experience for the people that went.”

Notre Dame has split the team between two or even three meets during recent weekends, and the strategy is ultimately beneficial to the athletes, Brock said.

“When we go to different meets, it definitely makes it difficult for us to know who our teammates are because we can’t always see them perform,” he said. “What it does do is always make sure that we are performing at a place that is the best environment for us. When we split up as a team, we are making sure that as throwers we are going to [compete against] high-quality performance throwers that are able to give us a challenge to help us prepare for Big Easts. With the runners, when [they] go to other meets that we aren’t at, they are going against runners that give them better competition.”

The Irish will participate in the Big East outdoor championships beginning Friday in Tampa, Fla.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu