July 10, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – At the conclusion of more than one week of competition that spanned two different countries, a pair of past University of Notre Dame track & field All-Americans officially qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. A 10-time NCAA All-American at Notre Dame, Molly Huddle (’06) earned a second straight United States Olympic Team bid by sweeping the 5,000 and 10,000-meter run championship finals, while 11-time All-American Margaret Bamgbose (’16) claimed an Olympic slot in the 400m dash running for Nigeria.
All told, each of the eight track athletes with ties to Notre Dame that took part in both the U.S. and Nigeria Olympic Trials reached the semifinals of their primary events, including four finals berths. Mary Saxer (’09) joined Huddle and Bamgbose as an event finalist in the women’s pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
Huddle officially punched her ticket to the Rio Olympics by winning the women’s 10,000m final on July 2, running the third-fastest U.S. time of 2016 in the 10,000m with her victorious heat of 31:41.62. It was her second straight national championship in the 10,000m, following a final run of 31:39.20 at the 2015 USATF Outdoor Championships.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) July 10, 2016
The Notre Dame great completed the national championship double on July 10 in the 5,000m, as Huddle ran an official time of 15:05.01 to pull away from the field in impressive fashion for her third career win in the event. Huddle previously won the U.S. 5,000m title in 2011 and 2014.
Bamgbose notched her first career Olympic qualifying time at the Nigerian Olympic Trials on July 8 in Sapele, Delta State. Bamgbose crossed the finish line in 52.27 to claim the bronze medal in the 400m final and secure the final Olympic berth. As part of the Nigerian 4x400m relay `A’ team at the prestigious Warri Relays the following day, Bamgbose ran the anchor leg during a victorious time of 3:30.17.
Jade Barber (’15) reached the semifinal of the women’s 100m hurdles with a benchmark time of 13.11 on July 7, taking the last berth of the first round with the effort. Barber saw her Team USA bid end with a semifinal heat of 13.39 to place 19th overall.
Kaila Barber (’15) emerged from the first round of the women’s 400m hurdles on July 7 with a time of 56.35 to advance to the event semifinal the following day. Barber took 14th place in the final 400m hurdles standings with a time of 58.42.
Patrick Feeney (’14) crossed the finish line with a time of 45.96 in the first round of the men’s 400m dash on July 1, advancing to the July 2 semifinal round. Feeney finished in 14th place overall after a semifinal run of 46.54.
After narrowly placing behind his former teammate Feeney (45.99) in the 400m first round, Chris Giesting (’15) made a semifinal move to be the top Notre Dame finisher in the 400m. Giesting turned in a semifinal sprint of 45.84 to place 11th nationally.
Saxer, an alternate for the 2012 U.S. pole vault team at the London Olympics, cleared 14-5.25 (4.40m) in her preliminary round on July 8 to reach the trials final on July 10. Saxer was unable to vault the mark in the first round of finals competition to end her Team USA pursuit.
Rebecca Tracy (’13) nearly won the first round heat of the women’s 1500m run on July 7, posting the second-best time in the opening round field at 4:13.87. Tracy’s semifinal dream on July 8 was ultimately dashed, despite improving her time to 4:13.39 to finish in 16th place overall.
Notre Dame At 2016 Olympic Trials (Eugene, Oregon/Sapele, Delta State)
Margaret Bamgbose (W 400m Dash Final)
52.27 – Third Place (Qualified for the Nigerian Olympic Team)
Jade Barber (W 100m Hurdles Semifinal)
13.39 – 19th Place
Kaila Barber (W 400m Hurdles Semifinal)
58.42 – 14th Place
Patrick Feeney (M 400m Dash Semifinal)
46.54 – 14th Place
Chris Giesting (M 400m Dash Semifinal)
45.84 – 11th Place
Molly Huddle (W 5,000m Run Final)
15:05.01 – U.S. Champion (Qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team)
Molly Huddle (W 10,000m Run Final)
31:41.62 – U.S. Champion (Qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team)
Mary Saxer (W Pole Vault Final)
14-5.25 (4.40m) – No Height
Rebecca Tracy (W 1500m Run Semifinal)
4:13.39 – 16th Place
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.