Dougherty Traces Running Roots to His Grandfather

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Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but Brenden Dougherty can run like the wind blows.

The junior sprinter will be making his first NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships appearance this week in his home state when 14 Irish student-athletes travel to Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

Seven men's competitors are slated to compete in five events, while seven female competitors will participate in four events. The 14 total competitors and seven on each team are the most in Irish outdoor history for one NCAA Championship.

Would it be poetic if Dougherty entered Drake Stadium mounted on top of a thoroughbred? His grandfather would have no objections.

Sioux City Journal - When most Notre Dame athletes think of the "Four Horsemen," the fabled 1924 Fighting Irish football foursome comes to mind.

Not for Brendan Dougherty.

The Notre Dame sprinter's grandfather, John, ran for a lesser-known track-and-field quartet that went by the same name -- the old Trinity High "Four Horsemen" squad that was inducted into the Sioux City Relays Hall of Fame this spring.

"Yup, he was one of the Four Horsemen," said Brendan, whose grandpa anchored Trinity's medley relay to a gold medal at the 1945 state track and field meet at Iowa State's old Clyde Williams Field in Ames.

The track was cinder back then, the starting blocks made of wood and races measured in yards instead of meters. There was also just one class of runners for the entire state, not four.

"My grandpa gets a kick out of telling that story," Brendan said. "We've heard it hundreds of times."

Sixty-seven years from now, he hopes he has a story of his own to tell.

The Bishop Heelan grad is the first leg on Notre Dame's 4x400-meter relay that broke a school record and qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Championships that start today at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

"I like to think of it as home-court advantage," Dougherty said, "because I've ran here more than most other people."

Indeed, Dougherty feels right at home at the blue oval -- where three years ago he anchored Heelan's 4x400 to a Class 3A record at the state track and field meet.

The color of his blue-and-gold jersey hasn't changed; only the name. After high school, Dougherty mailed his times, his transcript and a highlight video to Notre Dame -- his "dream college" -- and the marks caught the eye of Fighting Irish coach Joe Piane.

"I was completely shocked when he called me up," Dougherty recalled. "He said, 'we're interested in you,' and right then and there I told him if he could get me in, I'd definitely come. Basically, the rest is history."

Fighting Irish track and field history, that is.

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