Former Notre Dame Runner, Molly Huddle

Irish Men Second, Women Third After First Day Of BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships

May 6, 2006

STORRS, Conn. – The Notre Dame men’s track & field team is in second place, and the Irish women are third following the first full day of competition on Saturday at the 2006 BIG EAST Outdoor Championships, being held at the University of Connecticut’s George J. Sherman Family-Sports Complex in Storrs, Conn. The Notre Dame men, who won league titles in 2003 and 2004 before finishing second last year, have 37 points, putting them behind only Louisville (61) in the team standings, with Villanova (32), Cincinnati (28) and Connecticut (27) giving chase. Meanwhile, the Irish women, who have seeking to become the BIG EAST’s first women’s “triple crown” winner (cross country, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field) since 1987-88, have amassed 33.5 points, trailing Syracuse (53) and defending champion Pittsburgh (38), with Connecticut (28) and Rutgers (28) rounding out the top five.

One of the highlights of the afternoon for Notre Dame came in the women’s 10,000-meter run, where senior Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame) waged an epic duel with Providence’s Mary Cullen before winning the event in record-setting fashion with a time of 32:37.87, the fastest college time of the season (nearly a full half-minute ahead of the 33:05.37 clocked by Duke’s Clara Horowitz on March 31 at the Stanford Invitational) and the third-quickest by any American in 2006. Only two-time U.S. Olympian Marla Runyan (32:11.92 on April 21 at the Oregon Invitational) and last year’s NCAA 10,000-meter champion, former University of Colorado product Sara Slattery (32:21.64 on April 30 at the Stanford Invitational) have covered the distance faster than Huddle.

As of Saturday night, the eight-time Irish All-American now owns the NCAA’s fastest times this year at both 5,000 and 10,000 meters, as well as a No. 11 mark at 1,500 meters, having automatically qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 10,000 and earned a berth at the NCAA Mideast Regional in the 1,500 and 5,000, along with automatic berths in the USATF Outdoor Championships in both the 5,000 and 10,000.

In addition, Huddle’s 10,000-meter time shattered the 15-year-old BIG EAST Championship record (previous: 33.09.67 by Villanova’s Carole Zajac in 1991) and the Notre Dame record (previous: 33:28.01 by JoAnna Deeter at the 1999 Stanford Invitational), and obliterated the old Sherman Family-Sports Complex mark of 35.04.84 established in 2002 by Georgetown’s Marni Kruppa.

Not to be overlooked, Huddle picked up her fourth career BIG EAST Championship individual title and 11th career all-BIG EAST Conference honor, setting Notre Dame records in both categories. Her former teammate, Lauren King, amassed three track titles from 2002-05, and actually tacked on a fourth crown with the 2002 BIG EAST cross country championship. King, Liz Grow and current junior Maryann Erigha (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee) all have nine career all-conference citations to place second behind the incomparable Huddle. But perhaps the most amazing aspect of Huddle’s performance was the fact she had never run the 10,000 meters at the college level prior to Saturday’s BIG EAST Championship race.

Earlier in the day, freshman Alyissa Hasan (Williamsville, N.Y./Williamsville South) turned in her own record-breaking effort in the heptathlon, finishing fifth overall with 4,736 points to set a new Notre Dame record, topping the old mark of 4,675 points by her senior teammate, Stacey Cowan (Ferndale, Wash./Ferndale) at the 2003 BIG EAST Championships. Hasan showed good promise throughout the two-day competition, setting personal bests in four different events — the 100-meter hurdles (14.54 seconds), high jump (5-3.75/1.62 meters), 200-meter dash (27.18 seconds) and long jump (18-2.25/5.54 meters).

Another notable women’s performance on Saturday was turned in by Erigha, who won her preliminary heats in both the 100 meters (11.60 seconds) and 200 meters (23.76 seconds), recording both a season best and NCAA Mideast Regional qualifying time in the latter race. Erigha now has qualified for the NCAA regional meet in the 100 and 200, as well as the 400-meter relay. Her senior teammate, Laura Huarte (Shingle Springs, Calif./St. Francis), who has already booked a regional berth in the javelin throw, finished third in Saturday’s BIG EAST Championship competition, garnering her second career all-conference plaque with a top throw of 150-6 (45.87 meters).

Over on the men’s side, the Irish had three athletes earn all-BIG EAST recognition on Saturday. Seniors Kaleb Van Ort (Waterloo, Ind./DeKalb) and Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi) registered a 2-3 Notre Dame finish in the 10,000-meter run with times of 30:18.68 and 30:19.17, respectively. It’s the eighth all-league honor (fifth on the track) for Van Ort, who placed third in the event the previous two years, and the 11th all-BIG EAST citation (seventh track) for Moore, who also took third at the 2003 BIG EAST outdoor meet. Meanwhile, junior Todd Ptacek (Benton Harbor, Mich./Lake Michigan Catholic) finished second in Saturday’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:04.19, collecting his third career all-conference designation in the process.

Senior sprinter Ryan Postel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) has himself positioned for a strong final day at the BIG EAST Championship after logging the top qualifying times (as well as season bests) in both the 200 meters (21.38 seconds) and 400 meters (46.72 seconds). The 200-meter time is a personal best for Postel, while his 400-meter clocking is the fifth-quickest time in school history and just behind his all-time best of 46.63 seconds that he set en route to the 2004 BIG EAST outdoor crown.

A complete recap of the first day’s action at the BIG EAST Championships follows this release.

Both Notre Dame teams will be back in action starting Sunday at 9 a.m. (ET) with the men’s javelin final. Much of the finals on the track will be contested on Sunday, ending with the men’s 1,600-meter relay and the awards ceremony at approximately 3 p.m. (ET). The BIG EAST Championships also will be televised on a tape-delayed basis May 15 at 8 p.m. (ET) on College Sports Television/CSTV (DirecTV Channel 610/Dish Network Channel 152), with USA Track & Field legend Dwight Stones and former Cincinnati standout Lewis Johnson (also a sideline reporter for NBC’s broadcasts of Notre Dame football) on the call.

— ND —


Freshman Alyissa Hasan finished fifth in the heptathlon and set a school record with 4,736 points, breaking Stacey Cowan’s old mark of 4,675 points set at the 2003 BIG EAST Championships.

No Irish men qualified for the BIG EAST Championships in the decathlon.

100-meter dash
Junior Maryann Erigha won her qualifying heat and posted the fastest overall time of the day at 11.60 seconds (also matching her season-best and Mideast Regional-qualifying time set April 22 at the Central Collegiates) to book a spot in Sunday’s final.

No Irish men qualified for the BIG EAST Championships in this event.

200-meter dash
Erigha turned in the third-fastest qualifying time of the day, winning her heat in a season-best 23.74 seconds to not only advance to the finals, but also qualify for the NCAA Mideast Regional (her third such berth following spots in the 100 meters and 400-meter relay). Junior Okechi Ogbuokiri finished 11th overall (second in her heat) in a time of 24.47 seconds and did not advance.

Senior Ryan Postel won his qualifying heat and will run in Sunday’s finals after registering the fastest time of the day with a personal- and season-best 21.38 seconds.

400-meter dash
Ogbuokiri ran her fastest time of the year (53.91 seconds) to win her preliminary heat and assure herself of a place in Sunday’s final.

Postel also qualified for Sunday’s finals with a victory in his afternoon heat (46.72 seconds), setting a season-best mark and clocking the fifth-fastest time in school history in the process. Junior Jordan Powell (season-best 48.62 seconds, 15th), sophomore Bob Kueny (49.07, 19th) and freshman Charlie Hilding (50.68, 23rd) did not advance to the final.

800-meter run
Sophomore Jacqueline Carter will move on to Sunday’s final after placing seventh during the preliminaries (third in her heat) with a time of 2:10.16. Junior Brianne Schmidt was not as fortunate, placing 13th overall in 2:15.63 to miss out on the final.

The men’s final on Sunday will have a decided Notre Dame flavor with three Irish runners placing among the top eight qualifiers. Junior All-American Thomas Chamney, the reigning BIG EAST indoor 800-meter champion, cruised to a win in his heat and was second overall (1:50.33), while sophomores John Cavanaugh and Adam Currie crossed the line together in their preliminary, with Cavanaugh third overall (1:50.46) and Currie fourth (season-best 1:50.50). Junior Matt Plaska did not qualify for the final, coming in 22nd place during the preliminaries with a time of 1:55.74.

1,500-meter run
No women’s preliminary heats run at the BIG EAST Championships.

The Irish will have three runners in the 12-man final on Sunday, led by junior All-American Kurt Benninger, who took sixth in the preliminaries (third in his heat) with a time of 3:56.89. Junior Todd Ptacek was ninth overall (3:50.48), trailed closely by his senior teammate Vinny Ambrico, who was 10th in a season-best 3:50.57. Sophomore Brett Adams missed out on the final, coming home 18th overall in 4:03.32.

10,000-meter run
Senior Molly Huddle won her fourth BIG EAST individual title and collected her 11th all-BIG EAST honor with a time of 32:37.87. Her time broke the meet, school and stadium records, stands as the NCAA’s fastest time this year (third-quickest by any American, amateur or professional) and automatically qualifies her for both the NCAA and USATF Outdoor Championships. Senior Jean Marinangeli also picked up points in the event for the fourth consecutive year, coming in seventh with a time of 36:23.61, while junior Ann Mazur took 10th place with a time of 37:00.07.

Seniors Kaleb Van Ort and Tim Moore posted a 2-3 finish for Notre Dame in the event, getting the Irish on the scoreboard in the team standings. Van Ort earned his fifth track all-league citation (eighth overall) in a time of 30:18.68, while Moore collected his seventh track all-BIG EAST honor (11th overall) with a 30:19.17 mark. Sophomore Mike Popejoy was 12th in the final (32:01.48), while freshman Kevin Veselik came across the line in 15th place (32:36.53).

100-meter/110-meter hurdles
Sophomore Domenique Manning will race in Sunday’s 100-meter hurdles final after booking her place with an eighth-place overall finish (third in her heat) during the preliminaries in a time of 14.32 seconds.

Junior Geoff Bennett did not advance to the 110-meter hurdles final, finishing 17th in the preliminaries (fifth in his heat) with a time of 15.82 seconds.

400-meter hurdles
Freshman Nicole Yergler did not advance to the finals, placing 14th in the preliminary round (fifth in her heat) with a season-best time of 1:03.75.

Sophomore Austin Wechter will run in Sunday’s final, finishing seventh overall and second in his heat with a time of 53.39 seconds. Freshman Kellen Lewis will not be joining Wechter, missing the finals after a 19th-place preliminary finish (56.50 seconds).

3,000-meter steeplechase
All three Irish women in the event finished in a pack together, led by junior Katie DeRusso in 10th place (11:05.16). Sophomore Elizabeth Philipp followed in 11th place (season-best 11:10.10) and sophomore Julie Opet was 12th (11:13.39).

Ptacek took second in a time of 9:04.19, picking up his third career all-BIG EAST plaque. Sophomore Jake Watson almost earned his own citation, coming home fourth in 9:06.54, one-tenth of a second behind third-place Brian Dalpiaz of Georgetown. Senior A.J. Andrassy was 13th overall (9:25.43), while freshman Mark Moore ended up 19th (9:38.39).

High jump
Freshman Blair Majcina picked up points for Notre Dame with a seventh-place finish and a top clearance of 6-4.25 (1.94 meters). Junior Christopher Jacques actually cleared the same height (as did Syracuse’s Brien Flewelling), but Majcina was awarded seventh on fewer misses, and Flewelling was given eighth place for the same reason, dropping Jacques to ninth place.

Pole vault
Freshman Mary Saxer took fourth place with a top height of 12-5.5 (3.80 meters); she actually tied both Cincinnati’s Brittany Klima and West Virginia’s Jen Hall at that level, so the order of finish (Klima, Saxer, Hall) was determined by fewest misses. Freshman Kate Mattoon ended up tied for eighth place and picked up a half-point for the Irish women in the team standings with her mark of 11-11.75 (3.65 meters); her tie with Cincinnati’s Tara Meier couldn’t be broken by fewer misses, so they shared the final scoring position.

Long jump
No Notre Dame women qualified for the BIG EAST Championships in this event.

Jacques finished in sixth place with a season- and personal-best distance of 23-8.25 (7.22 meters) on his first leap of the afternoon.

Shot put
Freshman Anna Weber ended up fourth in the competition with a top throw of 44-10.25 (13.67 meters). Senior Meghan Horn just edged into the scoring column for the Irish with an eighth-place showing (43-9.75/13.35 meters).

Sophomore Mike Schubert finished 11th in the men’s event with his best mark coming on his first attempt (46-9/14.25 meters).

Discus throw
Horn placed 14th in the women’s competition with a top distance of 138-2 (42.11 meters) on her final throw.

Junior Garet Koxlien scored points for Notre Dame with a fourth-place finish, saving his best throw for last with a mark of 167-5 (51.03 meters). Freshman Jeff Mensch placed 19th overall at 136-9 (41.69 meters).

Javelin throw
Senior Laura Huarte finished third and collected her second career all-BIG EAST honor with a throw of 150-6 (45.87 meters).

MEN’S TEAM STANDINGS (through seven events)
1. Louisville 61; 2. NOTRE DAME 37; 3. Villanova 32; 4. Cincinnati 28; 5. Connecticut 27; 6. Georgetown 24; 7. Marquette 21; 8. Syracuse 17; 9. (tie) South Florida and Rutgers 11; 11. Pittsburgh 4.

WOMEN’S TEAM STANDINGS (through eight events)
1. Syracuse 53; 2. Pittsburgh 38; 3. NOTRE DAME 33.5; 4. (tie) Connecticut and Rutgers 28; 6. (tie) Louisville and Georgetown 22; 8. West Virginia 15; 9. St. John’s 14; 10. Villanova 12; 11. (tie) Marquette and South Florida 11; 13. Cincinnati 8.5; 14. Providence 8; 15. Seton Hall 5; 16. DePaul 3.