Senior Molly Huddle took runner-up honors in the 5,000-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Track &amp; Field Championships on Friday night in Sacramento, Calif. Huddle also earned her ninth career combined All-America citation, tying former Irish men's distance runner Ryan Shay (1999-2002) for the most All-America awards in school history. <i>(photo by Bob Solorio)</i>

Huddle Takes Second In NCAA 5,000 Meters; Loomis All-American In High Jump

June 9, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Notre Dame senior All-American Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame) finished second in the finals of the women’s 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Friday night at Hornet Stadium inside the A.G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif. Huddle covered the distance in 16:05.93, registering the best ever finish by a Notre Dame female in any event at the NCAA Championships (outdoors or indoors) and it guarantees Huddle the ninth combined All-America citation of her career (sixth in track), tying former Irish men’s distance runner Ryan Shay (1999-2002) for the most All-America honors in school history.

Providence senior Mary Cullen won the NCAA 5,000-meter title in 16:01.39, winning the last of three duels between her and Huddle. The pair had matched up in the elite 5,000-meter race at the Mount SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., back in March, with Huddle nosing out Cullen in the nation’s two fastest 5K times this year. Last month, they met again in the 10,000-meter run at the BIG EAST Championships, and again Huddle got the better of her Friar counterpart, winning in a NCAA season-best time of 32:37.87 despite never having run at that distance before in her college career. However, Cullen got the final word in the head-to-head battle with Huddle, pulling away midway through the NCAA 5,000-meter final after the pack endured a snail’s pace in the opening half of the race. Cullen eventually opened up a 60-meter lead on the last lap and held off a hard-charging Huddle down the stretch to take the national title.

Huddle now has finished fourth or better in all three of her 5,000-meter races at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. As a freshman in 2003, she placed fourth, followed by a third-place showing in 2004 (she also took third in the NCAA indoor 5,000 that year). During her career, Huddle now has made the finals in five distance races (3,000 or 5,000 meters) at the NCAA Indoor or Outdoor Championships and has never finished worse than ninth. The Irish distance standout could add to her NCAA finishes and All-America totals next year — she has one year of eligbility remaining in both indoor and outdoor track after not competing in the 2005 outdoor and 2006 indoor campaigns due to injury.

Not to be overlooked on Friday night, senior Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) ended up in a four-way tie for eighth place in the finals of the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 10.75 inches (1.80 meters) to garner her first All-America certificate. Loomis’ finish was the second-best ever for a Notre Dame women’s high jumper in the NCAA Championships (outdoors or indoors), topped only by Jennifer Engelhardt’s seventh-place showing at the 2000 NCAA outdoor meet. A former volleyball standout for the Irish from 2001-04, Loomis almost became the first Notre Dame female student-athlete ever to collect All-America recognition in two different sports — she was a honorable mention All-America choice in volleyball in 2003. She already had become the first Notre Dame student-athlete (male or female) to earn all-BIG EAST Conference honors in two distinctly different sports.

Notre Dame finishes the women’s portion of the NCAA Championships with 8.25 team points (eight for Huddle, one-quarter point for Loomis), currently good for 14th in the team standings, with one more day of competition still to go. In 12 prior appearances at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the best team finish for the Irish women was a tie for 17th place (13 points) in 1999.

On the men’s side, junior Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s) is the lone remaining competitor for Notre Dame. He will race in the finals of the 800-meter run tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:15 p.m. ET. CBS Sports will televise the NCAA Championships live starting 15 minutes after the 800 meters begins, although it is possible that highlights of the race could be shown during the CBS broadcast.

— ND —

June 9, 2006
Sacramento, Calif. (Hornet Stadium/A.G. Spanos Sports Complex)

WOMEN’S 5,000-METER FINAL: 1. Mary Cullen (Providence) 16:01.39; 2. Molly Huddle (Notre Dame) 16:05.93.

WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP FINAL: 1. Destinee Hooker (Texas) 1.89m/6-2.25; 8. (tie) Emily Loomis (Notre Dame) 1.80m/5-10.75.

WOMEN’S TEAM STANDINGS (through nine events): 1. (tie) Texas and Nebraska 26; 14. Notre Dame 8.25.