March 10, 2012
NAMPA, Idaho - The men's distance medley relay team of Johnathan Shawel, Chris Giesting, Randall Babb and Jeremy Rae etched their name in Notre Dame track and field history on Friday night at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nampa, Idaho, as the foursome brought home the school's first indoor relay title, finishing in 9:35.48.
"The race worked perfectly for them," said head coach Joe Piane. "We knew beforehand if John Shawel had a great race we would be in a good position. He came out and the race played right into his hands. He gave us the lead after his leg and then the rest followed. Chris (Giesting) kept the lead, and Randy (Babb) probably ran his best race of the year on the third leg. When the baton got to Jeremy, he ran a brilliant race. He just ran away from the field over the last couple hundred meters."
"Their title means a great deal for Notre Dame. It shows we are a national program and can compete with anyone in the country. It will help our program in all aspects."
Also making the Irish nation proud was senior pole vaulter Kevin Schipper, who took fourth with a personal-best vault of 5.45m (17-10.5 ft). He will be named All-American by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) next week, his second such honor, but first for indoors.
Schipper's finish was the highest for a Notre Dame pole vaulter at the indoor championships, topping Mike Brown's sixth-place finish in 1999. The height also tied a Notre Dame record for the indoor pole vault set by Brown in 1999.
"Kevin vaulted terrific tonight," said Piane. "Setting a personal-best at the national meet is very impressive. We are absolutely thrilled to be walking away with five All-Americans after day one."
The DMR team stole the show for the Irish however, as the squad joins Rick Wohlhuter (600 yards) in 1970 and Tom McMannon (55m hurdles) in 1972 as the only Irish track and field student-athletes to win an indoor national title.
The late Ryan Shay (10,000m) in 2001 was the last Notre Dame track and field student-athlete to win an NCAA title at the outdoor championships.
Shawel got the DMR team started as he led the pack through the 1,200-meter leg of the race in 2:57.46. Giesting extended the lead after 1,600 meters, finishing the 400 in 46.03. Babb held steady in the 800-meter leg of the race, finishing third in 1:51.34. Rae brought the team home to a championship finishing first in the mile portion of the race in 4:00.67. The Irish held off second-place Indiana by just .19 seconds (9:35.67).
When Shawel and Rae are named All-Americans next week, it will be their second in two years, as both were on last year's DMR team that earned fourth place, which was the previous best finish for a men's DMR team at the indoor championships.
On the strength of the two strong finishes, the Irish sit in fourth place in the team standings with 15 points after day one. The 15 points mark the most points the Notre Dame men have ever scored at an NCAA Indoor Championship. The previous high was 11 in 2005.
On Saturday it's senior Maddie Buttinger's turn as she competes in the pentathlon. The five-event competition gets underway at 11 a.m. (MT) with the 60-meter hurdles.
To follow live stats, go to: http://www.flashresults.com/2012_Meets/indoor/03-09-NCAA/Day1.htm
To follow a live stream during the early sessions, go to: http://fp-omni.fiberpipe.tv/bsu/web/ncaa.html
ESPN3's live streaming can be found on ESPN3.com. Live streaming of the meet will be available at 6:00 p.m. (MT) on Saturday, March 10.