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Track: Irish impress in opener

Laura Coletti | Monday, March 25, 2013

The Irish kicked off the outdoor season this weekend with an impressive showing at the Victor Lopez Invitational in Houston, taking first overall on the women’s side and fifth overall on the men’s.

Notre Dame amassed six first-place finishes, five runner-up finishes and 23 top-five finishes throughout the day. On the women’s side, sophomore Jade Barber won the 100-meter hurdles and contributed to the first-place 4×400-meter relay team with juniors Megan Yanik and Michelle Brown and freshman Margaret Bamgbose. Yanik also won the 400-meter race and sophomore Mary Esther Gordon won the triple jump. On the men’s side, sophomore Chris Giesting won the 200-meter sprint and participated on the winning 4×400-meter relay team with juniors Pat Feeney and Jarrod Buchanon and senior Brendan Dougherty.

Senior captain Chrissy Finkel said that the squad was happy to get back outside.

“The start of the outdoor season is always exciting,” she said. “A lot of athletes from the south or far west only competed outdoors in high school, so this is the season and experience they love. The weather adds a new element and can have a big impact on performances. We’re really optimistic in our outlook after coming off of such a strong indoor season.”

Along with the change in scenery, a number of events change the shape of the meet during the transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season. Javelin and steeplechase are added to the field events and 400-meter hurdles are added on the track. Also, the short hurdle distance moves from 60 meters to 100 meters for the women.

Finkel said she is pleased with Notre Dame’s showing this weekend but knows the team needs to keep working if they are going to reach their goals of winning the Big East championship and qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

“As a team, we need to focus on consistency and making a smooth transition,” she said. “Additionally, injury prevention will be key over the next two months. Many distance runners have been at full intensity training since the cross country season and that pounding adds up over time.”

In their next competition, the Irish team will split and send athletes to both the Oliver Nikilof Open in Cincinnati and in the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. Both events run from March 29-30.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu