Individuals set personal bests at Notre Dame

The Alex Wilson Invitational was a meet full of personal records for four members of Butler’s men’s and women’s track teams.

Senior Kris Gauson, sophomores Craig Jordan and Kirsty Legg and freshman Ross Clarke competed in the Notre Dame-hosted invitational, which was a last-chance qualifier for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Gauson, Jordan and Clarke competed in the men’s one-mile run, while Legg ran in  the same event for the women.

The automatic qualifying time in the men’s mile was 3:59.00. Anyone who ran that time or faster moved on to the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Jordan was placed in the first of three heats. His time of 4:07.79 was good enough for third place in his section and a 13th-place finish overall.

Jordan’s time also topped his 2010 personal record in the indoor mile by nearly 15 seconds.

Gauson and Clarke ran two of the 12 spots in the third heat, the fastest of the three.

“I was thinking about running conservatively, in the middle of the pack,” Gauson said. “I knew there would be a pacemaker that would keep us under four-minute pace.”

Clarke stuck with the lead group until the last lap of the race, while Gauson stayed towards the middle of the pack.

“I wanted to try and stay with the leaders as long as possible,” Clarke said. “I just tried to stay focused even though it hurt.”

Coming into the last turn and after moving up to fifth, Gauson blew past Princeton senior Mark Amirault and Notre Dame sophomore J.P. Malette to capture a third-place finish. His time of 3:59.74 was a personal record and put him under four minutes in the mile for the first time in his career.

“It’s a big relief,” Gauson said. “It’s great to get it off my back.”

Clarke earned a sixth-place finish in the event with a time of 4:02.81. It was a personal best for Clarke, who was the only freshman to finish in the top 10 of the men’s mile.

Virginia Tech sophomore Michael Hammond edged out Iowa sophomore Jeff Thode for the victory in the mile.

Gauson’s time gave him the 19th fastest indoor mile in Division I men’s track. Despite only 16 runners being able to move on to the Indoor Championships, Gauson was still holding out hope for a callback.

Luck was not on Gauson’s side, however, as he did not receive the chance to compete in the Indoor Championships.

His time at the Alex Wilson Invite was  seven-tenths of a second slower than the time of the 16th seeded runner for the Indoor Championships.

Legg was the only female athlete from Butler competing in the invitational. She finished the women’s mile in fourth-place with a time of 4:40.25, a new personal record.

Legg also finished with the fastest time of all non-Big Ten athletes in the event.

“I was hoping to run the automatic qualifying time,” Legg said. “It made me hungry for more and made me want to achieve more than I already have.”

Penn State junior Caitlin Lane captured first place with a time of 4:38.37.

Legg, like Gauson, was on the bubble and hoping to qualify for the championship race, but did not get a callback for the event. Her time was less than half a second slower than the 16th seeded runner for the Indoor Championships.

The next meet for the Bulldogs will be the Rose Hulman Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., March 19, which will be followed by the Stanford Invitational March 25.