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    Notre Dame Men Take Title, Women End With Tie

    FIGHTING IRISH Irish senior Kurt Benninger took the mile victory with an NCAA provisional time of 4:02.90.
    Irish senior Kurt Benninger took the mile victory with an NCAA provisional time of 4:02.90.

    Jan. 25, 2008

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    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the second consecutive week, the Notre Dame men's and women's track and field teams played host at the Loftus Sports Center. This Friday it was the Notre Dame Invitational, with Marquette and Michigan State in attendance.

    The three-team meet was the site of tough competition with Notre Dame taking the team title with a score of 141 points on the men's side. Michigan State and Marquette finished second and third with 89 and 64 points, respectively, for the men.

    The mile proved to be the exciting race of the evening as it often is at the Loftus Sports Center. With a loaded field including five-time All-American Kurt Benninger and two-time All-American Patrick Smyth, the crowd saw some of the top times in the nation recorded.

    Benninger broke away from the field early and maintained the lead throughout the race. He took the title with a smoldering time of 4:02.90. Not only was his time good enough for the win, but it also passed the 4:04.00 NCAA provisional mark. Teammate John Cavanaugh stormed through the field in the final 200 meters to finish second. His time was also impressive at 4:05.41.

    In similar fashion to the mile, the men's 800-meter run proved to be another close and exciting race during the competition. With a pack of three in the lead, Blake Choplin and Jake Watson stayed in the front, battling with Shane Knoll of Michigan State. Knoll pulled out for the win down the final stretch with Choplin and Watson, respectively, finishing second and third. Choplin's time of 1:15.38 is a season best for the Irish with Watson's 1:51.45 time being the second-best for Notre Dame.

    For the Irish, Jose Genao and Matthew Moore proved to be a successful duo as they took respective places of first and second in the 60-meter hurdles. Both bettered their season bests, clocking in with times of 8.23 for Genao and 8.34 for Moore.

    Billy Buzaid and Bob Kueny proved to be another solid group of runners for Notre Dame as they took one and two, respectively, in the 500-meter dash. Bringing in top points for the Irish, both recorded season-best times in the event. Buzaid finished with a time of 1:03.80, while Kueny finished with a time of 1:04.96.

    On the field events side, Eric Quick and Justin Schneider were the top athletes in the long jump. Quick's leap of 23-03 ½ was long enough for the win. Schneider finished right behind in second with a jump of 21-11 ½. Quick went on to take the title in the triple jump, leaping 48-1 ¾ for the win and a season best.

    The evening wrapped up with the men's shot put where the triumverate of Brandon Drenon, Denes Veres and Mike Schubert led the Irish. Drenon won the event with a throw of 53-6 ½ while Veres came in second, tossing 53-1 ¾ and Schubert in third with a best throw of 52-5 ½.

    On the women's side of the competition the scores remained tight throughout the night, finishing in draw with both Notre Dame and Michigan State earning 118 points. Marquette finished third with a score of 73 points.

    It was the final event of the night that proved to be the deciding factor. The Irish entered the 4x400-meter relay down three points to the Spartans. All it took was a Notre Dame win and Michigan State third-place finish to catapult the Irish into a tie for the lead. The Irish squad finished with a time of 3:52.61, a season best for Notre Dame women.

    Early on in the meet junior Anna Weber started the Irish women out strong with a win in the weight throw, coming from behind to take the lead in her final throws. While her performance jolted the Notre Dame women in the lead, it was also a strong individual throw. Weber tossed 61-11 ½, notching NCAA provisional markings, as well as a career long.

    Weber went on to dominate the shot put, taking the title with a toss of 45-10 ¾. Teammate Jaclyn Espinoza finished up near Weber with a third-place finish, throwing a length of 44-2 ¾. Both distances were season bests for the Irish athletes and their places were crucial to the Notre Dame team finish as the women's shot was the second to last event in the women's competition.

    The trio of Alyissa Hasan, Jaime Minor and Mary Saxer took the field by storm in the women's long jump. Hasan took the individual title with a leap of 18-9 ¾ while Minor took second with a jump of 1-6. Saxer competed unattached in the event for the Irish, but still made a good showing with a leap of 18-3 ¼ for third place.

    Earlier in the meet Saxer competed for points for Notre Dame in the pole vault. Her height of 12-1 ½ was a season high and also good enough to earn the win.

    In running events, the twosome of Cora Dayon and Natalie Johnson continued to find success in the 500-meter dash. Both Dayon and Johnson lead the Irish in the event this season and on Friday they led the entire field, with respective finishes in first and second. Dayon recorded a time of 1:14.76 while Johnson finished close on her heels with a time of 1:14.94.

    Joanna Schultz continued running successfully as she took the win in the 400-meter dash. Her time of 55.82 was good enough fro the win, while teammate Samantha Williams followed closer behind in second, clocking in at 56.79. Williams' time was a season best.

    Kelly Langhans stormed the field as she took the 800-meter run by nearly two seconds. Langhans crossed the finish with a time of 2:12.90 for the win, marking a season best.



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