PORTLAND, Ore. – The University of Notre Dame track and field program has hit its stride in recent weeks – not just with members of the current team, but also with alumni continuing on their athletic careers.
Alums Chris Giesting (‘15) and Patrick Feeney (‘14) were on hand at the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships held in the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon this past weekend, running for the United States in the men’s 4x400m relay. Both raced in the preliminaries, but it was Giesting who stole the show and helped the U.S. clinch the gold medal Sunday evening.
“Chris’s relay runs were outstanding, both in the prelims and the finals,” Irish head track coach Alan Turner said. “He opened up the lead on the third leg, and the U.S. in position to win. His 45.34 split in the final was amazing. It sounds great to call him a world champion!”
In Sunday’s finals, it was a tight race from the beginning between the U.S., the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. Kyle Clemons ran the lead leg for the U.S., handing off to Calvin Smith in second. Giesting, who had the fastest split of the four with a time of 45.34 increased the lead during the third leg, and handed off to Vernon Norwood (44.98 split), who raced to the gold medal and beat the Bahamas by nearly two seconds with a final time of 3:02.45.
On Saturday, Giesting and Feeney both ran in the second heat of the preliminary qualifiers, helping Team USA secure a spot in the finals. The team finished first in their heat, crossing the finish line in 3:05.41. Giesting split 45.68 as the third runner, handing off to Feeney who ran a 46.8 split in the anchor leg.
“That was my job as third leg,” Giesting said on widening the lead for the U.S. “The first two legs had the toughest job of staying in the lead, getting out in the lead, and they did a wonderful job. It was my job to extend it as much as I could for Vernon. It was a clean race. We did well.”
The gold-medal time stands as the fastest time recorded in the 2016 indoor season, but doesn’t top the U.S.’s all-time indoor record of 3:01.96, clocked in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2006. The U.S. hopes to send all four runners to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year.
“This was my first opportunity running with the USA jersey on and it was amazing, especially in front of the whole crowd,” Giesting said. “It feels good to get gold.”
In addition, current senior Margaret Bamgbose was also in Portland over the weekend, racing with the Nigerian women’s team in the 4x400m relay. The Nigerians came in fourth (3:34.03), with Bamgbose running the lead leg of the relay in her first international event. Their time is fourth on the 2016 indoor season top times list.
The Irish start their outdoor track season this weekend, splitting between the Yellow Jacket Invitational hosted by Georgia Tech, and the Raleigh Relays hosted by North Carolina State.
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Lizzie Mikes serves as Media Services Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. A 2013 graduate of Johnson & Wales University, she oversees credential management and is the athletic communications director for Fighting Irish men’s and women’s swimming and diving and track and field. She has assisted with numerous NCAA postseason events hosted by Notre Dame, and is heavily involved in the day-to-day tasks of the athletic communications office.