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Track and Field

Jessica Harris breaks 800-meter record in Virginia

| Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Irish built on their success from last weekend’s meet in Louisville as the team posted a number of top-10 finishes at the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville, Virginia, against a field of 63 different schools, as well as professional and club athletes.

“It’s a really good meet,” freshman jumper Matt Birzer said. “We wanted to go in and compete our hardest. With most athletes only competing once more before conferences, this was an important meet to bring things together. … There were a lot of schools competing there. We will see many of those schools again at conferences and regionals.”

Irish sophomore Jessica Harris, 2, leads the pack during the 800-meter run at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 20. Harris broke the school record in the 800-meter run Friday. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish sophomore Jessica Harris, 2, leads the pack during the 800-meter run at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 20. Harris broke the school record in the 800-meter run Friday.

The team began the competition with two wins on Friday night as sophomore Jessica Harris and senior Margaret Bamgbose finished first in the 800-meter run and 400-meter dash, respectively. In the 800, Harris stormed to a 2:05.26 finish, which was not only her personal best but also broke the school record. Bamgbose ran a 52.50 in the 400 to win yet another race this season. The women also had top performances in the 10,000-meter run, where junior Lexi Pelletier took second (34:02.08), and the 4×100-meter relay, which came in third with a time of 44.58. For the men, junior Anthony Shivers came in third in the discus throw (53.79 meters) and also 16th in the hammer throw (55.87 meters). In the 400-meter dash, junior Alex Groesch and sophomore Drake Stimson finished neck-and-neck with times of 48.45 and 48.75, respectively, good for 20th and 24th overall.

The Irish continued their successes on Saturday, highlighted by another victory and several personal bests. Junior Josephine Jackson continued her excellent season with a victory in the shot put, throwing 15.02 meters for a new personal best. The women also performed well in the 4×400-meter relay, coming in second (3:34.71), and the 400-meter hurdles, in which grad student Kaila Barber finished seventh (59.19) and sophomore Jordan Shead came in ninth (59.78). Additionally, freshmen Rachel DaDamio and Kelly Hart set personal records in the 1500-meter run (4:23.84), and 800-meter run (2:11.81), respectively. For the men, Birzer (2.11 meter) and sophomore Hunter Holton (2.06 meter) finished back-to-back in the high jump at sixth and seventh, while senior Brent Swanberg came in 11th with a jump of 1.96 meters.

“It was overall a good day,” Birzer said. “Things were not quite clicking for me. I had a lot of misses and my makes were not pretty. However, they were makes and on my third attempt at 2.11 I cleared. It’s hard to be too upset with a season best. I am excited about what I will be able to do on a day when I’m at 100 percent.”

Other top performances included sophomore Tim Ball’s time of 29:51.89 in the 10,000-meter run, which was good enough for ninth, and personal bests from Stimson (53.52) in the 400-meter hurdles and Swanberg (15.14) in the 110-meter hurdles.

“There were a lot of positives,” Birzer said. “I think we are feeling good. … We will have a lot of great performances at the conference meet. And we will take a decent number of [guys] to the regional meet. Once you’re at the regional meet, anything is possible.”

Next up for the Irish are the Drake Relays this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

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

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