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Track and Field

Notre Dame finds success at Drake Relays

| Monday, April 27, 2015

With an eye on the ACC championships in two weeks, Notre Dame athletes split up between the Drake Relays and GINA Relays, the former being one of the largest and most competitive events of the outdoor season.

Six relay teams and six individuals represented the Irish at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, which attracted tens of thousands of fans over the course of the weekend. Between the professional and collegiate athletes, 10 world-best times for the year were recorded.

“The atmosphere at the Drake Relays is great,” Irish head coach Alan Turner said. “It’s one of the major and premier meets in the country. Meets like this certainly prepare my athletes for the pressures and competition of the ACC, regional and national championships.”

Several of the Notre Dame relay teams had success in Iowa, with the women’s 4×200-meter relay of senior Jade Barber, senior Kaila Barber, freshman Parker English and junior Margaret Bamgbose finished first in 1:34.82, the fifth best time nationally this season.

“It was a thrill for [them] to take a victory lap and conduct a post race interview on center stage,” Turner said.

English and Bamgbose also competed in the 4×400-meter relay alongside senior Amber Lalla and freshman Jordan Shead, where the team finished third.

Despite their success in the other two relays, a botched exchange between English and Bamgbose on the final leg of the 4×100-meter relay caused it to be disqualified after sitting second.

Just as on the women’s side, the men’s 4×200-meter relay team ran well, finishing fourth.

Jade Barber, who currently has the fourth-best time in the country in the 100-meter hurdles, competed individually, finishing fourth in that event. While in second place, she hit a hurdle as she attempted to overtake the eventual winner, Michigan junior Cindy Ofili, setting her back by a split second.

“There’s very little that separates the top eight girls in the country,” Turner said. “Had she not [hit the hurdle], I think she would have won or been very close.”

The athletes in field events struggled somewhat, with the top performer, senior Emily Morris, finishing ninth.

“It was a rough weekend for field events,” Turner said. “The weather the entire weekend was either raining or very cold … but even still I was expecting a little higher in the standings for those individuals.

“They’ll get it together though; all these athletes are going to be big point-scorers for us in the ACC meet coming up here in a few weeks.”

The Irish also sent 24 athletes to the GINA Relays in Hillsdale, Michigan.

“The goal for the Hillsdale meet was to get some of our non-first-stringers to compete,” Turner said. “It was a good opportunity for them to get some good races in and improve on their times.”

Junior Mikaila Chamblee did just that, winning the 400-meter hurdles in 1:03.51.

In the same event on the men’s side, Irish runners junior Aaron Dunn and junior Ben Harvel took second and third, respectively. Both ran season-best times that are currently top-20 in the ACC, and Turner said he hopes they can perform even better to lock in qualifying spots.

The Irish will return to the track next weekend when they travel to Columbus, Ohio, for the Jesse Owens Track Classic.

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