April 15, 2007
WALNUT, Calif. – Freshman Balazs Molnar (Dunaujvaros, Hungary/Szechenyi Istvan) capped off an impressive weekend by clocking the second-fastest 400-meter hurdles time in school history on Sunday at the Mount San Antonio College (SAC) Relays in Walnut, Calif. Molnar circled the Hilmer Lodge Stadium track in 51.50 seconds, lowering his season-best and Mideast Regional-qualifying time in the event for the second time in three days (he ran 51.87 at Friday’s Azusa Pacific Invitational). Prior to this weekend, only one Irish hurdler had ever broken 52 seconds in the 400 hurdles — Aubrey Lewis did so on at least three occasions from 1956-58 (two were outside collegiate competition), including a school-record time of 50.2 seconds in 1957 (a converted time from the 440-yard hurdles).
Molnar’s time on Sunday also unofficially ranks among the top 20 in the nation this season, and it’s the second-fastest 400 hurdles time in the Mideast Region during the 2007 outdoor campaign — LSU’s Isa Phillips ran 50.34 seconds on April 5 at the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas. What’s more, Molnar now is the fastest freshman in the country for the event, with TCU’s Clint Renfro previously holding the top spot with a time of 51.64 seconds, also set at the Texas Relays.
Senior sprinters Maryann Erigha (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee) and Okechi Ogbuokiri (Willingboro, N.J./Willingboro) also improved their regional qualifying times on Sunday at Mount SAC. Erigha ran season-best times in both the 100 meters (11.63 seconds) and 200 meters (23.67 seconds), with the latter mark tying for eighth-quickest in school history. Erigha finished third in the 200 and was the top collegiate finisher in her division at Mount SAC, while also boosting her into the top 10 in the Mideast Region in that event. Meanwhile, Ogbuokiri won the 400-meter dash and trimmed her season-best time to 54.19 seconds.
The Notre Dame track & field teams will be back on the cinders Friday and Saturday, April 20-21 at a trio of meets around the country. Some Irish distance runners will head to the Oregon Invitational in Eugene, Ore., while the remainder of the Notre Dame athletes will either take part in the Central Collegiate Championships (Ypsilanti, Mich.) or Purdue’s Dave Rankin Invitational (West Lafayette, Ind.).
— ND —