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Track and Field

Irish head to Iowa ahead of NCAAs

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fresh off a pair of top-three finishes at the ACC outdoor championships, Notre Dame heads right back into the fray today when the Irish travel to the 105th Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

Irish freshman sprinter Alex Groesch runs in the Notre Dame Invitational on Jan. 25.Zachary Llorens | The Observer

Irish freshman sprinter Alex Groesch runs in the Notre Dame Invitational on Jan. 25.

At the ACC indoor championships, both Irish teams finished third in the conference meet, but Notre Dame was able to improve its performance in the outdoor championships. The men finished in third place again, but the Irish women moved up to second, coming just 15 points of first place Florida State.

Junior sprinter Jade Barber led way for the Irish, capturing Notre Dame’s first ever outdoor ACC gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles. Freshman sprinter Harvey Smith, who ran a leg for the Irish’s fourth-place 400-meter relay, said Notre Dame’s success in the meet gives the Irish something to build on moving forward.

“The team is very confident right now,” Smith said. “By finishing third again in outdoor we solidified the fact that we belong in the ACC, that indoor wasn’t a fluke. We think we could’ve done better at ACCs, but we’ll take a third place finish.”

The Irish are now two months into the outdoor season, and there are still four weekends of meets between now and the NCAA preliminary rounds. While not overlooking the remaining meets, Smith said the goal of NCAA success drives the Irish at every practice.

“We can’t get complacent,” Smith said. “Every day is a day to get faster. Coach will have peak for outdoor [NCAAs], all we need to do is follow his workouts, give 100 percent and we’ll be fine. The key is not to get injured. Everyone is kind of tired right now, and the week off next weekend will serve us well.”

First, however, the Irish must travel to Des Moines for the Drake Relays, where they will find little rest. Awaiting the Irish is a meet deep with first-class opponents, including Arkansas, Baylor and Georgia. But even when tired, the Irish still relish the opportunity to test themselves against elite opponents, Smith said.

“We always like to run against good competition,” Smith said. “It’s hard to push yourself when you’re out in front running by yourself. The good thing is that all of us can drop our times in the [400-meter] relay, so there is room for improvement.”

The Irish will compete all day today at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

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