March 30, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams will split up this weekend, with the distance runners from both squads heading west to the Stanford Invitational, and the rest of the teams staying back in South Bend to compete at the Notre Dame Outdoor Opener Saturday at Moose Krause Stadium. It will be the fifth home meet of the year for the Irish, but the first outdoor competition of the 2006 campaign.
In addition to the Irish, the Notre Dame Outdoor Opener will feature full or partial teams from Central Michigan, DePaul, Detroit-Mercy and Loyola-Chicago. The competition will get underway at 10 a.m. (ET), continuing throughout the day, and admission is free to the public.
Notre Dame athletes have gotten off to a solid start during the outdoor track and field season, amassing five NCAA Mideast Regional qualifying marks as well as 29 spots in the BIG EAST Conference Championships in their first two meets alone. Junior sprinter Maryann Erigha (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee) has been one of the standard bearers for the Irish thus far, winning the 100-meter dash at both the Cal Poly Invitational and Arizona Jim Click Shootout, and her time of 11.66 seconds at Cal Poly was good enough for regional qualification. She also has placed among the top three in the 200 meters in her first two outdoor appearances and should be a prime contender to pull off the sprint double at this weekend’s ND Outdoor Opener.
On the men’s side, senior Ryan Postel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) is two-for-two in the 400 meters, most recently turning in a time of 47.03 seconds at the Jim Click Shootout that was the seventh-fastest mark in school history and put him into the mix for regional competition. Postel will be seeking to qualify in the 200 meters as well after clocking a personal-best time of 21.70 seconds in last week’s trip to Arizona.
In the field events, senior Laura Huarte (Shingle Springs, Calif./St. Francis) posted one of the highlights of the outdoor season for the Irish to date, smashing the school record in the javelin by nearly four feet at the Cal Poly Invitational with a Mideast Region-qualifying toss of 146 feet, nine inches. Senior high jumpers Stacey Cowan (Ferndale, Wash./Ferndale) and Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) will join Huarte on the regional qualification rolls after posting matching marks of 5-8.75 at the Jim Click Shootout.
While the majority of the Notre Dame roster stays close to home base, the powerful Irish distance running groups will be in northern California Friday and Saturday for the Stanford Invitational. Considered one of the top outdoor meets of the college season, the Stanford Invitational will feature more than 4,000 athletes (high school, college and post-collegiate) from around the country competing this weekend on Cobb Track/Angell Field in Palo Alto. For Notre Dame, this represents the first chance the distance runners have had to register outdoor qualification marks for either the conference or regional meets. Many of the athletes wearing the Irish colors are the same ones who guided the school’s cross country teams to top-seven finishes at last fall’s NCAA Championships (men – third; women – seventh).
Leading the way will be senior Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny), who is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships (personal-best 15:59.01) to pick up her fourth career All-America citation, and second on the track. Madia also earned All-America status in cross country last fall (third place at NCAAs) and is seeking to pull off a rare “triple crown” in running circles.
One runner who has already achieved this feat is senior Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame), who did so in 2003-04. Huddle is slated to make her track debut this weekend, having sat out the entire indoor season while rehabilitating from an injury. She did compete for the Irish in cross country last fall, finishing 15th at the NCAA Championships to garner her eighth career All-America plaque (three cross country, five track) and add to her status as the most decorated female athlete in school history (in terms of All-America citations).
Junior Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s) has been one of the top runners for the Irish men this season, receiving All-America distinction for the first time in his career with a sixth-place finish in the 800 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this month. The reigning BIG EAST indoor 800-meter champion, Chamney has traditionally shown his strongest running during the outdoor campaign, and following last year’s participation in the European Under-23 Championships, the pride of Ireland should be a key factor at Stanford this weekend.
Complete results from both the Notre Dame Outdoor Opener and those events involving Irish athletes at the Stanford Invitational will be available on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com) and the Irish Sports Hotline (574-631-3000) at the completion of the day’s action.
— ND —