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Track and Field

Outdoor seasons begin with Texas seasons

| Monday, March 31, 2014

Notre Dame opened its outdoor season with a pair of meets in Texas this past weekend, putting up strong showings at the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas and the Victor Lopez Invitational in Houston.

Irish senior springer Patrick Feeney competes during the Notre Dame Invitational in the Loftus Sports Center on Jan. 25. Feeney was part of Notre Dame's fourth-place 4X400 meter relay team at the Texas Relays this weekend.Zachary Llorens | The Observer

Irish senior springer Patrick Feeney competes during the Notre Dame Invitational in the Loftus Sports Center on Jan. 25. Feeney was part of Notre Dame’s fourth-place 4X400 meter relay team at the Texas Relays this weekend.

The Irish faced some adjustments in their first outdoor competition, but according to freshman hurdler Conner Stapleton, the weather more than made up for it.

“It was different because we’ve been training inside, and indoor tracks and outdoor tracks are just different in length,” Stapleton said. “The coaches try to prepare us as much as they can, to simulate how it feels on an outdoor track, but there’s only so much you can do. But it was nice, beautiful weather in Houston. I mean, I couldn’t imagine any better weather.”

At the first meet, the Texas Relays, 18 Irish athletes made the trek to compete against opponents from the likes of Penn State, Texas and Duke, among other schools. The main event over the meet’s first several days was the men’s decathlon, where Notre Dame senior Ted Glasnow finished in seventh place out of 15 competitors. His score of 7,299 was enough to give him the top-10 finish he needed to qualify nationally. Glasnow’s position was particularly bolstered by his first-place finish in the pole vault section of the decathlon (4.40 meters).

Other standouts at the Texas Relays included both genders’ 4×400-meter relays. The women’s team of junior Jade Barber, senior Michelle Brown, junior Amber Lalla and sophomore Margaret Bamgbose finished second with a time of 3:35.91. Freshman Harvey Smith, junior Chris Giesting, senior Patrick Feeney and senior Jarrod Buchanon took fourth place in the event after finishing in 3:08.60. After they achieved All-American status in the indoor season, Stapleton said the 4×400-meter relay team, particularly Feeney and Giesting, have become the example the entire team hopes to replicate.

“Chris [Giesting] and Pat [Feeney] have probably turned in their best seasons,” Stapleton said. “The two of them kind of just lead the team, and we just try to pick up the pieces where we can. We try to train as hard as they train, and follow what they do.”

Meanwhile, at the Victor Lopez Invitational, the Irish were able to find success in some events new to the outdoor season. In the women’s discus, sophomore thrower Lena Madison came in fifth place (41.11 meters), and freshman thrower Indi Jackson was close behind, finishing in seventh (40.56 meters). In another women’s field event, senior thrower Amanda Chamblee’s javelin toss of 40.49 meters was good enough for second place.

Back on the track, the Irish managed a one-two finish in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, and a victory in the women’s 400-meter hurdles as well. Sophomore Michelle Rotondo claimed victory with a 1:00.75 time, while Stapleton (53.64) and sophomore Aaron Dunn (54.04) paced the men’s event. The race marked Stapleton’s first college victory, but the freshman said it was only a single step on the path to his ultimate goals.

“It feels good,” Stapleton said. “I don’t want to hype it up like I’m a big superstar now, cause I’m not. I know I have a long way to go. I ran a conservative race and just did what I can. I hope to improve off that time, which I think I will.”

The Irish will return to the track next weekend, when they travel to the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, Calif.

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