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ND Track and Field: Team travels to Iowa, Michigan for meets

Megan Finneran | Thursday, April 28, 2011

After a break from competition over the long Easter weekend, the Irish will return to action traveling to two separate meets Thursday and Friday. The squad will divide as some athletes head to Des Moines, Iowa for the Drake Relays while others go to Hillsdale, Mich. for the Gina Relays.

The majority of the team will compete at the Gina Relays. The Drake Relays will feature 12 Irish runners, a pole-vaulter and a thrower.

The Irish continue to look for leadership from a few key members who have distinguished themselves during the season.

On the track, the men seek direction from the indoor season’s four all-Americans, who will compete in relays at Drake. Graduate student Jack Howard will anchor the 4×800-meter race, freshman Patrick Feeney will anchor the 4×400-meter, junior Johnathan Shawel and sophomore Jeremy Rae will join together in the 4×1600-meter.

“Shawel has been having great workouts for the past couple weeks, and set a personal best out in California two weekends ago, so we’re really looking for him to run well on his leg on the relay,” Rae said.

This pair of meets marks the last tune-up for the Irish before the Big East championships May 6. With the upcoming meet in the back of their minds, the focus is still on doing well this weekend.

“We placed a close second in the mile relay last year, so going back and getting the win this year is really important for us,” Rae said.

For the women, sophomore Rebecca Tracy has proven herself as a standout performer, taking second place in both the 1,500-meter and 800-meter at the Mt. SAC Relays and Long Beach State Invitational two weeks ago. Additionally, the women need strong performances from senior thrower Rudy Atang, who took third place at the Long Beach State Invitational and junior Maddie Buttinger, who took first place in the heptathlon at the Polytan Invitational Saturday.

The Irish begin competition at the Drake Relays Thursday and at the Gina Relays Friday. Both events will continue through Saturday.