March 7, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s track & field teams will send a total of six athletes to the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships, which will take place Friday and Saturday at the University of Arkansas’ Randall Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Junior Kurt Benninger (3,000 meters/distance medley relay), junior BIG EAST Conference champion Thomas Chamney (800 meters/distance medley relay), sophomore Adam Currie (distance medley relay) and senior Ryan Postel (distance medley relay) will represent the Irish men’s squad, while senior Stephanie Madia (5,000 meters) and freshman Ramsey Kavan (mile) will carry the torch for the Notre Dame women.
Five of the six Irish athletes competing at this weekend’s NCAA Championship are making a return appearance to the national stage, with Madia running for a fourth time (2004 and 2005 indoor/outdoor), Benninger competing for the third time (2004 outdoor, 2005 indoor), and the trio of Chamney, Currie and Postel participating for the second time (Chamney and Postel on the `03 DMR, while Currie did so last year). Kavan will be the lone Notre Dame novice at the NCAA meet, and in fact, she was the only freshman in the country to be accepted for the NCAA women’s mile.
Besides having previously raced at the NCAA Championships, three Irish runners have captured All-America honors at the competition. Benninger was a two-time All-American at last year’s NCAA Indoors, placing fourth in the mile and anchoring Notre Dame’s sixth-place distance medley relay unit, which also included Currie. In addition, Benninger has a cross country All-America citation in pocket, having placed eighth at the NCAA Championships this past November. Meanwhile, Madia earned her first All-America honor on the track last spring with a fifth-place finish in the outdoor 5,000-meter run. She also has achieved All-America status at each of the past two NCAA Cross Country Championships, with her third-place finish last fall matching the best placement ever by an Irish female.
Benninger would appear to be Notre Dame’s best chance for All-America recognition this year, having registered the nation’s fourth-fastest time in the 3,000 meters (a school-record 7:52.28) back on Feb. 3 at the Meyo Invitational. After sitting out the BIG EAST Championships to rest a sore Achilles, Benninger returned to anchor the Irish distance medley relay team at the Alex Wilson Invitational last weekend, helping Notre Dame post the country’s No. 4 time in the event (a school-record 9:33.82). Postel and Currie ran the second and third legs of that DMR qualifier, respectively.
Chamney has enjoyed the finest season of his college career, and like Benninger, he will run in two events at the NCAA Championships, including his first appearance in an individual race. Chamney booked his place at the national meet in the 800 meters with a personal-best 1:48.62 showing (12th-best nationally) at the Meyo Invitational. He went on to have a hand in the two men’s individual titles for Notre Dame at last month’s BIG EAST Championships in Akron, Ohio, claiming the 800-meter crown and rallying the Irish 4×800-meter relay squad to its first-ever league win in the event.
Madia was the most recent NCAA qualifier for Notre Dame, earning her way into this year’s 5,000-meter competition on the strength of a dominating 16:02.14 performance (the nation’s seventh-quickest time) on March 3 at the Alex Wilson Invitational. Kavan improved her qualifying time in the mile to 4:43.78 at the Alex Wilson, and that turned out to be the difference, as the Irish rookie had the 15th-fastest clocking in the country to edge into the 16-runner field.
A full recap of Notre Dame’s performances in the 2006 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be available as soon as possible on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com) and the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000). A tentative schedule for Irish athletes at the NCAA meet is as follows (all times Central; add one hour for South Bend time):
Friday, March 10
4:30 p.m. (CT) — Men’s 800-meter run preliminary (Chamney)
7:05 p.m. — Women’s mile run preliminary (Kavan)
8:30 p.m. — Women’s 5,000-meter run final (Madia)
9:15 p.m. — Men’s distance medley relay final
Saturday, March 11
6:25 p.m. — Women’s mile run final (Kavan)
6:35 p.m. — Men’s 800-meter run final (Chamney)
7:35 p.m. — Men’s 3,000-meter run final (Benninger)
— ND —