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ND Track & Field: Two runners advance to NCAA Championships

Megan Finneran | Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The past two weekends brought much excitement for the Irish as six athletes became provisional qualifiers for the NCAA Indoor Championships and two actually advanced to the championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

Senior sprinter Jack Howard came into his first championship appearance ranked No. 15 nationally after winning the Big East’s 800-meter indoor title this year. He advanced to the finals after a fifth-place finish in the preliminaries with a time of 1:49.52. He ended the two-week stretch of races with seventh place in the men’s 800 final with a time of 1:49.48, earning his first All-America award.

“Becoming an All-American has always been a big goal of mine, so to finally be able to achieve that was a pretty special experience,” Howard said.
Senior sprinter Joanna Schultz also went to the preliminaries, where she finished 11th in the women’s 400 at 53.58.

Prior to the preliminaries, the Irish had six athletes qualify provisionally, which means they posted times or distances that would have qualified for nationals if others hadn’t topped them. On March 5, senior Eric Quick came in first for the men’s long jump at 7.21 meters.

Senior long distance runner Jake Walker finished third in the men’s 5000 with a time of 13:55.08, creating a new personal best by nine seconds.

“This season has been my best so far. I am finally completely healthy after dealing with injuries. Running the provisional time for a 5k meant a lot, but it meant a lot more for me to break fourteen minutes,” Walker said.

The following day of the invitational brought four more provisional qualifiers. Shultz finished fourth at 54.37 in the women’s 400, and junior sprinter Kelly Langhans finished eighth in the women’s 800 with a time of 2:08.58. Howard finished seventh in the men’s 800 at 1:48.85 and senior long distance runner Daniel Clark finished fifth in the men’s 1600 at 4:01.57.

As a team, the Irish ended their season achieving their goal of winning the Big East indoor meet.

“I think the biggest difference for our team this year has been in our depth. In the past, we relied on three or four people to carry the load,” Howard said. “This year we have a whole bunch of people in just about every event who are stepping up and who can contribute,”

The Irish begin the outdoor season at the Arizona State and Stanford Invitational meets March 26-27.