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Men’s & Women’s Track & Field: Irish set for Mike Poehlein

Megan Finneran | Friday, April 1, 2011

The Irish got over their opening season nerves last weekend and now will focus on inching toward the June nationals, starting with the Mike Poehlein Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind. this weekend.

“Now that some of us have gotten our first meet out of the way, we have a starting block to build from,” senior thrower Rudy Atang said, who took third place Saturday in Arizona when she threw 15.69 meters in the shot-put event.

Two Irish athletes received awards last weekend. Sophomore Jeremy Rae was named the Big East Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week and junior pole-vaulter Kevin Schipper was named the Big East Men’s Field Athlete of the Week.

“It’s not as cut and dry as indoors where there’s a set standard to qualify for nationals,” Rae said.

Rae finished second in the 1,500-meter race at the Stanford Invitational last weekend in 3:44.09, marking a personal best and the current best collegiate time in the country. He was 0.32 seconds ahead of UTEP’s Elkana Rotich.

Schipper finished first in the pole-vaulting event at the Arizona State Invitational with his 5.20-meter clearing, the best height in the conference and the fourth-best in the nation.

“We do keep in mind that some of us will be racing through June, so how we do in March doesn’t have too much impact on our season as a whole,” Rae said.

While these early meets may not have as much direct impact in terms of team records, they provide opportunities for athletes to obtain qualifying positions.

Sophomore middle-distance runner Rebecca Tracy joined Rae and Schipper as probable qualifiers as well, finishing in 4:22.78 to take 10th place in the first section at the Stanford Invitational.

“We hope to continue on from Stanford and improve on what we have already accomplished,” Tracy said. “We may move some people around and try them in different events than they ran indoors as well, based on last weekend’s performances.”

Other successful performers expected to carry over their streak from last weekend include senior Justin Schneider, who took second in the decathlon at the Alabama Relays with 6,909 points and junior Maddie Buttinger, who finished third in the pentathlon with 3,035 points.

“Last weekend, there was a lot to learn. I think it’s fair to say that we all individually found aspects in our performances, whether good or bad, that we can improve on,” Atang said.

The Mike Poehlein Invitational kicks off Friday, April 1 at 3 p.m. with the hammer throw, the only event of the day. The meet continues Saturday at 10 a.m. with the discus throw and javelin. The women’s 10,000-meter running event will begin at 11 a.m.