Feb. 9, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior Kurt Benninger earned an automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships as he ran a season-best time of 7:53.86 in the first-annual Ryan Shay 3,000-meter race. It was only fitting that Benninger, a five-time All-American and Notre Dame standout, would shine in a race that is now named after nine-time All-American and former Notre Dame runner Ryan Shay, who tragically passed away last fall.
Benninger’s time is the second-best performance all-time in indoor action in Notre Dame history, only behind his Irish record of 7:53.28, which her ran in 2006 Meyo Invitational. His time is also the second fastest in indoor collegiate action this season behind Sean Quigley of La Salle who holds a time of 7:52.47.
Teammate and two-time All-American Patrick Smyth was close behind Benninger with another top time of 7:55.41, an NCAA provisional qualifying time and the third-fastest time in indoor collegiate action. Together, the pair finished second and fourth with respective times, but they were the top two collegiate athletes in the race with the first and third-place finishes going to Nike athletes.
The `Meyo Mile’ was all that was expected with the crowd in the Loftus Sports Center viewing some of the fastest mile times this year in the country. There were three sub-four-minute miles in a pack of elite athletes, bringing the crowd to their feet. Jack Bolas took the title with an astounding time of 3:59.40 and it was a photo finish with second and third place on his heels. Jordan Fife with Brooks Running Team and an Indiana State alum was hot on his tracks with a time of 3:59.75 for second and Brandon Bethke finished in hot pursuit with a third-place time of 3:59.85.
Notre Dame was well represented in the race with senior Jake Watson competing for the top spots. Watson led for a portion of the race before being battled out in the final home stretch. He finished sixth with an impressive time of 4:00.59, an NCAA provisional mark. His time is one of the fastest in collegiate competition this season and he leads the Irish in the event.
In other Irish action, Kelly Langhans smashed her season best in the 800-meter run of 2:12.79, earning a time of 2:09.35 Saturday afternoon. In another loaded field, she finished in 11th place overall and leads the Irish this season in the event.
Brienne Davis matched her season-best in the 60-meter dash in a high caliber field. She qualified for the finals early in the morning and returned to the two-heat final to earn 12th place overall. She clocked in across the finish with a time of 7.72, maintaining her BIG EAST qualifying mark.