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Track and Field

Morris, Harris set school records in season-opener

| Monday, December 8, 2014

The Irish men’s and women’s teams opened their seasons with successful results across the board, capturing first place in 22 of the 30 events and breaking two school records at the Blue & Gold Invitational held at Loftus Sports Center on Friday.

Notre Dame hosted four men’s programs and five women’s programs for the season’s inaugural meet – the women’s team from Northern Illinois, and both men’s and women’s squads from Bethel, Detroit Mercy, DePaul and Marquette.

Irish junior Danielle Aragon, left, and freshman Jessica Harris race side-by-side during the 1,000-meter run Friday.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior Danielle Aragon, left, and freshman Jessica Harris race side-by-side during the 1,000-meter run Friday.

The event was highlighted by the record-breaking performances of senior thrower Emily Morris and freshman middle distance runner Jessica Harris. Morris crushed the field in the shot put, winning by a margin of 1.07 meters over the nearest competitor. She surpassed Notre Dame’s previous 15.64-meter record on each of her three throws, with her second throw being the longest at 16.02 meters.

Harris, at her first meet in an Irish uniform, impressed by pulling away from the field in the 1,000-meter run, coming in at a time of 2:46.47 to finish ahead of her freshman teammate and second-place finisher Ashlyn Rambo. Her effort was enough to break the previous school record of 2:48.18.

Irish coach Alan Turner said he was excited about the record-breaking performances so early in the season.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Turner said. “These were positives from our team going forward in the season.”

Senior Jade Barber was another standout for Notre Dame, taking first place in both the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles.

In the 200-meter race, Notre Dame runners finished in two of the three medal positions. Senior sprinter Chris Giesting finished first with a time of 21.30 seconds, and former Irish standout and All-American Pat Feeney finished close behind in 21.63, competing unattached.

Sophomore Emily Carson, after finishing fifth in the 60-meter dash, posted a 5.81 meter mark in the long jump to win the event.

Freshman distance runner Celena Guerrero also posted a victory in the first meet of her collegiate career with a 5:07.90 time in the mile run.

Similarly, on the men’s side, freshman distance runner Billy Dolan claimed the top spot in the mile at 4:16.53.

Senior Keith Mesidor won the long jump with a distance of 6.89 meters, and freshman Hunter Holton won the high jump at 2.00 meters.

In the weight throw, senior Ihuoma Nwaogwugwu took first place with a distance of 17.34 meters, while Morris finished second.

The Irish also claimed the titles in both the men’s and women’s 1,600 meter relays.

Irish senior Jade Barber runs during the 60-meter hurdles Friday at the Loftus Sports Center. Barber won both the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles at the Blue & Gold Invitational.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish senior Jade Barber runs during the 60-meter hurdles Friday at the Loftus Sports Center. Barber won both the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles at the Blue & Gold Invitational.

Turner — who was named head coach in July following 39 years with recently-retired Joe Piane at the helm — said this first meet was important for setting a tone for the season.

“I told the team to get the first-race jitters out, and I wanted to see a competitive effort,” he said. “Sometimes a lot of times athletes think, ‘It’s the first meet; we’re not running against any ACC or Big Ten teams,’ but it’s important to go out there and give 100 percent effort every time.”

The Irish had 46 overall top-three finishes in the 30 events of the meet.

“The effort was definitely there, and the kids were competing hard,” Turner said. “Competing hard needs to become a habit … and I’m very pleased with the effort my team gave tonight. This is going to carry them throughout the year.”

The Irish continue their season after winter break with the Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Jan. 17.

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