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Track and Field

Irish relays take first in Michigan

| Monday, January 20, 2014

Notre Dame traveled to University of Michigan on Saturday for the Simmons-Harvey invitational, a final tune-up before the Irish host the Notre Dame Invitational on Jan. 25. Irish coach Joe Piane said he was pleased to see his teams run so well coming out of winter break, a performance highlighted by a first-place finish in the 4×400-meter relay for both the men’s and women’s sides.

“It’s just the first meet, so I hesitate to say that a tone was set, but I was happy to see that plenty of our runners seemed to get better over the holiday,” Piane said. “It was important that I get an idea of where we’re at before the quadrangular meet next week.”

Piane was unsurprised by the performances of his two 400-meter relay teams, which finished at 3:17.84 (men) and 3:49.11 (women) to notch a pair of victories.

“We have a lot of depth and a pair of very good relays and this proves it,” Piane said. “They both made NCAAs last year and it’s my expectation that they will do so again this year.”

In addition to its relay win, the women’s side also got first-place finishes from a trio of upperclassmen. Juniors Carly Loeffel and Emily Morris won the high jump at 1.71 meters and the shot put at 14.65 meters, respectively, and senior Vivien Devaney registered a victory in the weight throw at 17.96 meters.

Additionally, the Irish got second- and third-place finishes from senior Michelle Brown (25.38 seconds) and sophomore Margaret Bamgbose (25.55) in the 200-meter, and a second-place finish from senior Megan Yanik in the 600-meter run (1:35.67). Amber Lalla finished third in the 400 in a time of 58.69.

Piane also cited impressive performances from junior twins Jade and Kaila Barber, who finished second and third respectively in the 60-meter hurdles.

“Jade and Kaila ran particularly well,” Piane said. “It’s early in the season but that’s certainly a good sign for us going forward.”

The men’s side notched three first-place finishes of their own paced by senior Patrick Feeney and a pair of freshmen in Jacob Dumford and Alex Groesch. Feeney won the 200-meter (21.95 seconds) in addition to a second-place finish in the 60-meter (6.77), and Groesch and Dumford took first in the 400 (49.55) and 800 (1:53.78) respectively. The Irish showed their depth in the 400 in particular, as Groesch was flanked by fellow freshmen Harvey Smith (49.81) and John Rutowski (50.13), who finished second and third, respectively.

Other strong performances came in the form of second-place finishes from freshmen Patrick O’Connell, who was clocked at 1:21.69 in the 600-meter, and Christopher Marco, who ran the 800 in 1:54.13.

Piane said he was particularly impressed by his freshmen.

“It’s pretty plain from the results, we have a lot of freshmen running well for us,” Piane said. “Chris [Marco], Patrick [O’Connell], Jacob [Dumford], Alex [Groesch], John [Rutowski]… they’ve all run pretty well for us. Along with Patrick Feeney’s performance, that’s something for me to be excited about going forward.”

Piane said his focus is already on next weekend, when the Irish will play host to the Notre Dame Invitational, and beyond.

“Beginning with the quadrangular meet next week, everything we do leads up to the conference meet and NCAAs,” Piane said. “Our goal is to show well at ACCs in our first year in the conference and afterwards at NCAAs, and I think we will do that. I’m definitely content with where we are right now.”

The Irish are back at home for the Notre Dame Invitational on January 25th in the Loftus Sports Center.  The women’s team will look to defend its first-place finish from last year as the men look to improve on last year’s second-place finish.

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