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Track and Field

Irish athletes bound for ACC/Big 10 Challenge

| Thursday, April 14, 2016

After several strong performances over the past few weekends, the Irish head into the ACC/Big Ten this Saturday looking to continue their recent success.

This past weekend, the team competed in the Sun Angel Classic in Arizona, and had a number of strong performances. Although the team only sent sixteen athletes, the Irish notched 13 top-5 finishes over the two days of competition. On Friday, junior Anthony Shivers finished second in the hammer throw, and sophomore Nick Hauser came in fifth in the premiere hammer throw. On Saturday, the Irish were led by senior Margaret Bamgbose, who made her outdoor debut this season with two first place finishes — one in the 400-meter dash and the other in the 4×400-meter relay. Graduate student Carly Loeffel also came in first in the women’s heptathlon, accumulating 5,329 points.

Freshman high jumper Matt Birzer finished sixth in the men’s high jump competition last weekend and the Leadwood, Kansas native said he relishes the opportunity being around star athletes.

“It definitely helps seeing my teammates perform well,” Birzer said. “At indoor conferences for example, [senior] Brent Swanberg and Carly Loeffel started off the meet with awesome days of their events. That energized [sophomore high jumper] Hunter Holton and I to both [personal records] in the high jump, and then [junior] Nate Richartz carried it over into the pole vault were he won the meet.”

Irish junior pole vaulter Nathan Richartz runs down the strip during the Alex Wilson Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 20. Richartz placed first in the event with a personal best of 5.32 meters.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish junior pole vaulter Nathan Richartz runs down the strip during the Alex Wilson Invitational at
Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 20. Richartz placed first in the event with a personal best of 5.32 meters.

Birzer said the Irish have been training hard this week, and are looking to use this weekend as a stepping-stone for ACCs and the NCAA meet at the season’s end.

“We are more worried about peaking at ACCs and beyond,” Birzer said. “We have still been training hard. … It’s another week of trying to get ready for ACCs and to hit marks to qualify for regionals.”

Unlike the Sun Angel Classic, the Irish are sending a large number of athletes to the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and the team will be going up against some top competition like Louisville, Michigan State and Purdue. With such stiff competition, athletes like Birzer are relishing the chance to continue to develop.

“I think besides me there will be five or six jumpers who had gone seven feet,” Birzer said. “It should be a really competitive meet with a fairly small pool of jumpers. I think that’s really going to benefit the competition because it will move fast and there should be some impressive performances. … The weather should be nice and the relatively small size of the meet should be ideal for quality performances.”

And regardless of the outcome, Birzer said the team, like always, is prepared to give its all.

“[The game plan is] go out and give 100 percent,” Birzer said. “Every time we put on the ND monogram, that’s our goal. We always go out and compete our hardest.”

The ACC/Big 10 challenge is scheduled to begin Saturday at noon in Louisville, Kentucky.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

Toby is a junior PLS/Economics double major from Smithtown, New York.

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