Marquette Track & Field: O’Brien breaks MU record in indoor season opener

Marquette track and field got its indoor season off to a good start, winning three events at Friday’s Blue & Gold Invitational at Notre Dame.

On the men’s side, seven Marquette athletes recorded Big East qualification results, and the team recorded seven event finishes in the top three.

Redshirt senior sprinter Tyler O’Brien led the way for the Golden Eagles, recording the fastest 200-meter dash time in Marquette history — 21.75 seconds — to break his personal record and win the event. O’Brien also ran a Big East qualifying time of 7.00 seconds in the 60-meter dash to finish second in the event.

O’Brien said it felt good to break the record so early because it leaves him with plenty of time to improve in other events throughout the rest of the season.

“The 60 (meter dash) didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, so I had a little chip on my shoulder going into the 200 (meter),” O’Brien said. “My goal is always to get out hard and attack the curve, and once I did that, the straightaway opened up and things worked out.”

Sophomore jumper Michael Saindon added to the men’s success, winning the high jump with a personal record-tying 2.01 meters (6 feet, 7 inches).

Coach Bert Rogers said O’Brien has been the leader of the men’s team for the last couple of years and expects him to be a favorite to win the 200-meter in the Big East Championships this season.

“He’s been voted team captain each of the last two years and the guys really do look up to him,” Rogers said. “He really sets the tone with the effort he brings to practice every day and how he competes in the meets, and it rubs off on the other guys.”

Sophomore sprinter Kate Hein lead the women’s team with a victory in the 500-meter dash, posting a Big East-qualifying 1 minutes, 17.07 seconds. Though Hein said she was just off her personal best, she was happy to qualify early to leave room for improvement and higher Big East seeding.

“My goal was to qualify in the 500 (meter) right out of the chute, after qualifying later in the season last year,” Hein said. “My race didn’t start out as well as I had hoped it would. I got out a little slow so I had to will myself through it at the end.”

Hein expects to compete in the 800-meter race for the first time this year and said the early qualification gives her more space to focus on the new event as well as develop into more of a leader for her team.

“We’re kind of still training through the running events so qualifying isn’t really a top priority right away,” Hein said, “but I was glad to start it off, and I’m sure a lot of our athletes will try to follow me soon.”

Rogers said Hein’s performance led by example with her come-from-behind style and will help her to become more of a diverse runner this year.

“Last year she was more of a 400 (meter) runner, but this year we’re training her to be more of an 800 (meter) runner as well,” Rogers said. “It was nice to see Kate come from behind in the last 70 meters or so and pass a pack of girls to win it. That’s how she runs. She’s kind of a come-from-behind achiever. She leads by example, and she’s definitely someone her teammates can look up to in the future.”

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