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Track and Field: Irish, IU win Border Battle

Jack Hefferon | Sunday, April 10, 2011

It was still a track meet, with the same events, same standards and the same familiar faces. But the Kentuckiana Border Battle was different from any other meet for the Irish, and was a welcome change, at that.

The premise of the Border Battle is simple: an annual battle for track supremacy between the states of Indiana and Kentucky. Notre Dame teamed up with rival Indiana to form Team Hoosierland, taking on The Commonwealth team of Kentucky and Louisville. The pairing of athletes that so often compete against each other resulted in some great competition, and some great friendships.

“It’s a very interesting meet,” Irish junior thrower Andy Hills said. “We see Indiana a couple times a year, and Louisville’s in the Big East with us, so we see them all the time. It’s cool to go down there and compete with people you’ve gotten to know over the years. It makes it fun for everybody.”

While the composition of the teams created a friendly atmosphere, it was all business once the events started. Team Hoosierland beat the Commonwealth 103-96 in the men’s competition, and prevailed 104-96 on the women’s side. Irish athletes played a large role in the Indiana victory, and strong performances were seen across the board.

Distance runners were the stars of the day for the Notre Dame women. Junior Molly Hirt won the 5,000-meter run in 17:18.83, and was closely followed by freshman Meg Ryan, who finished second.

Irish runners also placed first and second in the 1,500 meter run, where sophomore Rebecca Tracy and freshman Kelly Curran finished in 4:24.43 and 4:27.26, respectively.

On the men’s side, the Irish throwers had an especially good showing, led by senior John Belcher. Belcher placed third in the shot put, and followed that up by winning the hammer throw with a personal best.

“[Belcher] had a really good day on Saturday,” Hills said. “He threw over 57 meters in the hammer, and that’s a personal record for him.”

Another Irish thrower who performed well was freshman Andrew Brock.

“[Brock] had a pretty good day in the shot,” Hills said. “As a freshman, throwing over 45 meters like that is really good.”

Although Saturday’s meet was a great change of pace for the Irish, their schedule continues to sprint forward. The Irish will be back in action this week, and will try to divide and conquer as they compete across the country.

The multi-eventers will travel to Lawrence for the Kansas Relays, while the other Irish athletes will compete at the Mt. SAC relays in Walnut, Calif., and the Dave Rankin Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind.