April 24, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Led by a strong effort on the West Coast from its distance running crew, the Notre Dame men’s track & field team registered four new NCAA Mideast Regional qualifying marks and two improved regional qualifiers during weekend action at the Oregon Invitational (Eugene, Ore.) and Central Collegiate Championships (Ypsilanti, Mich.). Between them, the Irish men’s and women’s harriers also combined to log 18 new or improved marks for next month’s BIG EAST Championships, as well as four top-10 performances in the Notre Dame record books.
Senior All-American Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s) made the most of his outdoor season debut in Oregon, meeting the Mideast Regional qualifying minimum in the 800 meters (1:49.67) and 1,500 meters (3:44.38), with the latter figure standing as 10th-best in school history. Chamney is a three-time All-American at 800 meters, reaching the NCAA Championship finals during the 2006 and 2007 indoor seasons, as well as the 2006 outdoor campaign.
Another senior All-American earned a regional berth in his ’07 outdoor debut, as Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.) continued his return from injury by clocking in at 3:47.07 in the 1,500 meters at Oregon. Junior Jake Watson (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater Area) and sophomore Patrick Smyth (Salt Lake City, Utah/Judge Memorial) also qualified in the Oregon 1,500 — Watson ran a personal-best 3:43.59 (eighth in school history), while Smyth booked a time of 3:47.15 to lock up his second regional bid after previously punching his ticket at 5,000 meters.
Senior Todd Ptacek (Benton Harbor, Mich./Lake Michigan Catholic) looked superb in the Oregon 3,000-meter steeplechase event, running a personal-best 8:49.58 that also is ninth-quickest in school history.
Meanwhile at the Central Collegiate Championships, sophomore Anna Weber (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) boosted her BIG EAST qualifying marks in the hammer throw (53.40m/175-2) and shot put (14.20m/46-7.25), with the latter figure ranking fifth in Notre Dame annals. Five other Irish athletes posted new conference qualifiers: sophomore Becca Bauman (Grand Rapids, Mich./Catholic Central) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, freshman Lindsey Ferguson (Greenfield Center, N.Y./Saratoga Springs) in the 1,500 meters, freshman Greg Kiley (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Saratoga Springs) in the 1,500 meters, freshman Balazs Molnar (Dunaujvaros, Hungary/Szechenyi Istvan) in the 400 meters and junior Crysta Swayzer (Houston, Texas/Westbury Senior) in the 800 meters.
The Notre Dame track & field teams will return to competition Friday and Saturday at the prestigious Drake Relays (Des Moines, Iowa) and Hillsdale (Mich.) Gina Relays.
— ND —