March 2, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Many of the nation’s top track and field athletes will be on the University of Notre Dame campus this weekend as the Irish play host to the Alex Wilson Invitational at the Loftus Sports Center. The Alex Wilson is one of the NCAA’s designated “last chance” meets, and gives these elite competitors a final opportunity to post a qualifying mark, or improve a past qualifying mark, for the NCAA Championships next weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. Last year, 132 NCAA qualifying marks were posted during the course of the two-day competition, with 11 meet records falling by the wayside.
The signature event of the Invitational is the Alex Wilson 800, which will start at 12:35 p.m. (ET) Saturday. The 800, which features many of the nation’s best half-milers, is named in honor of Alex Wilson, a former three-time All-America runner at Notre Dame, who later coached the Irish from 1950-72, leading the 1957 cross country squad to the NCAA championship. As a runner, Wilson was undefeated in his career in the quarter-mile and the half-mile, and won two Olympic medals (silver in the 800 meters, bronze in the 400 meters) for his native Canada at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles. He later was inducted into both the Canadian Track Hall of Fame (1954) and Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame (1967), and was tapped as the NCAA Cross Country Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 1972, before he passed away on Dec. 10, 1994 at the age of 87.
Among the top entrants in this year’s Alex Wilson 800 is Notre Dame junior Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s), the BIG EAST champion and holder of the nation’s 14th-fastest time in the event this year (an NCAA provisional 1:48.62). He’ll be challenged by Illinois’ Trammel Smith, who has the No. 10 time in the country this season (1:48.20 on Feb. 11).
Several other events during this weekend’s meet should be hotly contested. In the men’s distance medley relay, the nation’s fourth, sixth, seventh and 12th-quickest quartets will take to the track. Meanwhile, the men’s mile will be highly entertaining, as Michigan’s Michael Woods, owner of the second-fastest time in the land this year (3:57.87) and winner of the 3,000-meter run at last month’s Meyo Invitational (7:52.27) leads an all-star field.
The women’s competition looks for similar thrills, especially in the 5,000-meter run, where five of the country’s top 25 runners will be in action, including Irish senior Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny). In the women’s mile, Notre Dame freshman Ramsey Kavan (Yankton, S.D./Yankton) will look to improve upon her NCAA provisional time of 4:45.27, which currently stands as the second-fastest mark in the nation by a rookie this year. The sprints will be highlighted by the presence of Irish junior Maryann Erigha (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee), who has already provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes (winning the BIG EAST title in the latter event). All three Notre Dame athletes were instrumental in the Irish capturing their second BIG EAST indoor championship two weekends ago in Akron, Ohio.
Results will be posted on the Notre Dame athletics web site upon completion of the day’s events. Admission for the meet is free.
— ND —