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Track and Field: Squad welcomes top competition

Greg Hadley | Friday, March 1, 2013

With the NCAA indoor championships just a week away, a select group of top athletes from around the country will make one last attempt to qualify for the championship at this weekend’s Alex Wilson Invitational.

While the invitational is not as large as other Irish home meets, it will still feature top competition. Athletes from teams like Oregon, Penn State, Texas and Princeton will compete, either tuning up for the national championships or are trying to hit the qualifying mark needed to attend.

Many Irish athletes that have already qualified will still be competing this weekend. 

“At this point in the season, everyone is peaking and can recover quickly and compete again the next week,” senior captain and pole vaulter Chrissy Finkel said. “Only the top 16 go [to NCAAs] so you always want a faster time or a farther throw, to get a better seeding and if you’ve just barely made it, to make sure no one passes you on the last weekend.”

The Irish women are coming off a Big East title, which has significantly improved the team’s focus and confidence, Finkel said. Sophomore Jade Barber, who was named most outstanding performer at the Big East championship, is ranked in the top 25 nationally in both the 60-meter hurdles and the 4×400 meter relay and will compete in both this weekend. 

“We could not have been more excited to win [Big East],” Finkel said. “It has helped our enthusiasm and motivation so much.”

On the men’s side, the Irish boast three of the fastest 400-meter runners in the country, all of whom are on the 4×400 meter relay squad that has already broken the school record this year. Junior Patrick Fenney, who is also competing in the 400-meter at the national championship, will lead senior Brendan Dougherty, junior Jarrod Buchanon and sophomore Chris Giesting as they try to qualify this weekend. 

But for many of the Irish athletes, the indoor season is over. Most of the squad has already begun preparing for the outdoor season, which starts in late March, and this weekend’s meet is important for them as well. Some will use it as an opportunity to set a new personal record, while others will be there to encourage their teammates, Finkel said. 

“People that have been running well in practice will compete so they can set a big [personal record] and maybe qualify for the Big East outdoor [championship],” Finkel said. “Absolutely we’ll all be there to cheer our teammates on.”

The Alex Wilson Invitational will take place today and Saturday at the Loftus Center, starting at 5 p.m. this afternoon.

Contact Greg Hadley at [email protected]