O’Brien dominates sprinting events at Oliver Nikoloff Invitational

Junior sprinter Tyler O’Brien won two events at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational in Cincinnati over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Marquette Images.

Junior sprinter Tyler O’Brien led the way for the men’s and women’s track and field teams at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio, last weekend, taking first place in both the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.

He won the 100-meter in 10.58 seconds and the 200-meter in 21.28 seconds to give the team 20 much-needed points. Along with winning the races, both times were only a few hundredths of a second off of his own personal bests in those events.

Coach Bert Rogers said O’Brien’s strong meet wasn’t “entirely unexpected.”

“I think what was a little bit surprising was that he put down the times he did in the weather conditions that we had,” Rogers said. “It was raining and windy so everyone was a little bit slower, but he put up some good times, which leads me to believe that he is going to run even faster.”

Because of his performance in Cincinnati, O’Brien was named Big East Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.

“Obviously I’m more concerned with my preparation and training than the award,” O’Brien said. “But I am really honored to be named track and field athlete of the week in such a prestigious conference.”

The award notwithstanding, last weekend’s performance was nothing new for O’Brien. He is one of the best sprinters in Marquette history, holding the records for the 200-meter dash (21.23 seconds), which he considers his best event, and is second all-time only to Olympic gold medalist Ralph Metcalfe in the 100-meter dash.

This weekend, however, he will not compete in either of his top two events, and will instead race in the 400-meter dash and the sprint medley relay at the Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational in Macomb, Ill.

Rogers said he wanted to mix up O’Brien’s events so he would be better prepared mentally in later meets. O’Brien said the training won’t change much, but there are nuances of the relay he will need to work on.

“The biggest thing I have to work on is hand-offs for the relay because I haven’t been running relays much since my sophomore year,” O’Brien said.

Just like O’Brien, most of the team will also use the meet this weekend as a tune-up for one of the bigger meets of the year on April 16, the Beach Invitational in Norwalk, Calif. Rogers, however, expects there to be plenty of good performances.

“Most years, we seem to have good times and marks at this meet, so we hope to have more of the same,” Rogers said.

For those who won’t be going to California, they are looking at this meet as a chance to improve their chances heading into conference meets at the beginning of May.

“If I can just further my marks in the Big East this weekend, that would be pretty nice,” junior thrower Robert Bleem said.

The teams will head to Macomb, on Friday to compete in the Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational ahead of the Beach Invitational.