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Women’s Track: Top individual honors highlight ND season

Megan Finneran | Thursday, May 13, 2010

As a team the Irish may have struggled to bring home overall titles this season, finishing sixth at the Big East championships. But many athletes found success individually, setting new records along the way. With a season that extends into the summer, they also still have plenty of opportunity for further growth.

“Although we haven’t performed the greatest as a team, I believe there have been a lot of personal accomplishments,” senior thrower Jaclyn Espinoza said. “One thing I will say about our group is we have this amazing ability to perform at Big East championships.”

Perhaps the best showing for the Irish came from senior sprinter Joanna Schultz, who consistently came in first or second in meets throughout the season in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. She entered the weekend ranked 15th in the country in the 400-meter hurdles with her time of 58.13 seconds, good enough for first in the Big East. At the conference championships, she not only won her fourth conference title, but also set a Notre Dame and a Big East championships record in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 56.82 seconds.

The 4×400-meter relay team of Schultz, senior Samantha Williams, junior Natalie Johnson and sophomore Maddie Buttinger also earned all-Big East honors, taking second place with a time of 3:44.39. The 4×800-meter relay team of juniors Abby Higgins and Kelly Langhans, sophomore Allison Schroeder and freshman Rebecca Tracy finished fifth at 8:53.47 to set a program record.

Buttinger also finished second in the heptathlon with 5,278 points.

Espinoza entered the discus competition ranked 30th nationally and third in the Big East, and earned all-conference honors in the event by taking third place at the championships with a throw of 50.02 meters.

“I feel like our outdoor season has really just started, and with regionals at the end of May and nationals in June,” Espinoza said. “We still have a lot of time to accomplish big things.”

Through both the indoor and outdoor seasons, the women have continued to improve not only in the conference standings, but also individually in personal time and distance records. The Irish wrap up the postseason June 12 at the NCAA Championships, where the seniors look to end their careers on a high note.