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Track: Sprinter leads by example

Laura Coletti | Wednesday, February 6, 2013

During the dreary days of February, one need look no further than Irish junior sprinter Megan Yanik for living proof that hard work does pay off.

During her sophomore campaign, the Plymouth, Mich., native competed in 12 indoor and outdoor events for the Irish, and she reached the Outdoor NCAA Championships in both the 400-meter hurdles and as a part of the 4x400m relay team. A major in pre-professional studies and Spanish, she also earned the distinction of Big East Academic All-Star.

With that bank of experience, Yanik said she is an advocate of leading by example. And on a team with such high standards, she said it is important to help the underclassmen buy into the work ethic.

“A goal for the team is to win the Big East Championships,” she said. “We have a really talented team all across the board in each event. At practice, it could sometimes be easy to slack off or not work as hard, but I always try to put forth my best effort to show the underclassmen that if you put in the work, you’ll see the results.”

This indoor season, Yanik said she is looking to add to her list of accomplishments. Her 4-x-400 meter relay team has its sights set on qualifying for the Indoor NCAA Championships.

“I think we have a pretty good chance at doing it,” she said. “They only take about 10 teams each year, but if we work really hard we have a really good chance of doing it.”

Along the way, she has already started to collect other victories. She placed first in the 500-meter race last weekend with a time of 1:13.22 at Notre Dame’s annual Meyo Invitational.

“It’s definitely exciting to [win at] the [Meyo Invitational] because there’s a lot of good competition with teams from all over,” Yanik said. “I kind of try to think of each race in the same way, I try to run them all as if it’s the same meet. I try to focus on myself running and not the competition and where they’re at.”

Since she has already made a trip to the NCAA Championships once, Yanik said she is determined to get there again, this time during both indoor and outdoor competition.

“[Reaching the NCAA Championships] kind of raises the standard,” she said. “It kind of puts more pressure on you, thinking, ‘I made NCAA’s in spring, I should make it in the winter’. It’s a lot harder in the winter because they take fewer people. But the fact that you’ve been there before makes you want it that much more again.”

Yanik and the rest of the Irish will next compete in the Grand Valley Big Meet Invitational in Allendale, Mich., this weekend.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu