March 9, 2007
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Notre Dame senior 800-meter All-American Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s) and junior miler Jake Watson (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater Area) turned in solid performances in their preliminary heats, easily qualifying for the finals in their respective events at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which began Friday at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. The Notre Dame men’s distance medley relay team also competed on Friday, finishing ninth in 9:42.13 to just miss All-America honors and points in the team standings.
Going off in the first of two 800-meter heats, Chamney ran a smart, controlled race and clocked a time of 1:49.06 that put him third in the heat and was the third-fastest time in the 16-man field. The Irish national advances to the NCAA indoor 800-meter final for the second consecutive year and will have the opportunity to improve upon his sixth-place finish at the 2006 meet (a placement that yielded his first career All-America citation). LSU’s Jamaal James registered the top time of the preliminary round at 1:48.58 in the first heat, although the times for the eight qualifiers were separated by just a little more than one second.
Watson was making his first-ever appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championships, but one wouldn’t know it by his performance on Friday. The Notre Dame veteran was the runner-up in the second preliminary heat with a time of 4:03.66, ending up just behind Stanford’s Garrett Heath (4:03.13). Heath’s teammate, Russell Brown, posted the fastest time of the preliminary session by winning the opening heat in 4:00.19.
The Irish men’s distance medley relay team found itself racing in an extremely deep and talented final, and ended up making a last-minute lineup change with junior Adam Currie (Verdun, Quebec/Richelieu Valley) taking the baton for the opening 1,200-meter leg. He was followed by senior Ryan Postel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) for 400 meters and junior John Cavanaugh (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) for 800 meters, before senior Todd Ptacek (Benton Harbor, Mich./Lake Michigan Catholic) moved from the opening segment to take Watson’s place on the 1,600-meter anchor leg. Stanford won the DMR title in 9:33.64, while Notre Dame’s time of 9:42.13 was only 32-hundredths (0.32) of a second behind Texas for the eighth and final scoring spot.
Watson and Chamney will return to the track Saturday night for the finals in their events, with Watson going first in the mile at 6:25 p.m. CT (7:25 p.m. ET in South Bend) and Chamney following in the 800 meters at 6:45 p.m. CT (7:45 p.m. ET). The top eight finishers in the finals will be designated as All-Americans and will pick up team points — Watson is seeking to be the third Irish miler in the past five years to earn All-America accolades, while Chamney is poised to become the first Notre Dame individual to be named an All-American in the same event in consecutive years since Luke Watson did so in the 3,000 meters in 2002 and 2003. In addition, should Jake Watson wind up as an All-American, he would join his brother, Luke, as the first All-America siblings in the 117-year history of the Notre Dame track & field program.
— ND —