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Irish Track And Field Has Final Tune Up Before Regional Meet

May 14, 2003

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Irish individuals focus on NCAA regionals:

The 2003 NCAA outdoor track and field season has taken on an new look this season with the implementation of regional meets before the NCAA Championship. In the past, athletes competed with each other across the country, looking for NCAA ‘automatic’ qualifying marks/times or ‘provisional’ marks/times hoping to land a spot in the NCAA Championship meet. Notre Dame is in the Mideast Regional, which will be hosted by Ohio State University on May 30 and 31.

In 2003, however, that system has been changed. To get to the NCAA Championship meet in Sacramento, Calif., on June 11, athletes must compete in the NCAA Regional meet. There are four regional meets in the country this season and the top five individual finishers (and top three relay teams) in each event will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship field. The NCAA Championship field usually consists of anywhere between 26-28 competitors in each event, so the remaining spots (after the 20 automatic berths) will be decided by the national descending order lists.

To make a long story short, if an athlete is in the top 10 on the national descending order list, he/she will need to finish in the top five at the regional meet to compete for All-America honors in Sacramento. In similar fashion to the cross country regional system, there will be team scoring in the regional meets as well.

Georgia Tech Invitational offers final tune up before the NCAA regional:

Save for the seniors who will walk through graduation on Sunday, May 18th, Notre Dame’s regional qualifiers and a few hopeful qualifiers will make the trip to Georgia Tech this weekend for a final regular-season meet.

The Irish competitors will be looking to improve their NCAA regional qualifying standards, or post their first qualification of the year.

The women’s team will be represented by Petra Dankova (triple jump), Molly Huddle (5,000 meters, 1,500 meters), Lauren King (1,500 meters), Meghan Horn (throws), Stephanie Madia (5,000 meters), Kerry Meagher (800 meters), Jean Marinangeli (5,000 meters), Kelsey Wicks (high jump), Stacey Cowan (high jump), Emily Loomis (high jump), Ayesha Boyd (sprints), Kristen Dodd (sprints) and Tiffany Gunn (sprints/hurdles).

The 2003 BIG EAST Indoor and Outdoor Champion men’s team will send Thomas Chamney (800 meters), Eric Morrison (1,500 meters), Kevin Somok (5,000 meters), Vinnie Ambrico (1,500 meters), David Alber (steeplechase), Juan Alba (throws), Chris Staron (high jump), Mark Barber (hurdles), Selim Nurudeen (110-meter hurdles), Godwin Mbagwu (triple jump), Ryan Postel (400 meters), Napolean Suarez (400-meter hurdles).

Where the Irish stand as of May 14th:

There are two lists to keep an eye on for the Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams. The NCAA overall descending order lists (which indicate the top outdoor efforts of the season across the country) and the NCAA Mideast Regional descending order lists.

According to the latest NCAA overall descending order list, the following Irish athletes are ranked in the top 50 in the nation in their respective events.

Thomas Chamney, 800 meters, 39th, 1:49.55

Eric Morrison, 1,500 meters, 23rd, 3:44.16

Luke Watson, 5,000 meters, sixth, 13:38.73

Luke Watson, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 8:49.45

Tim Moore, 10,000 meters, 41st, 29:45.93

Selim Nurudeen, 110-meter hurdles, 30th, 13.95

Kymia Love, 400 meters, 53.85, 42nd

Lauren King, 1,500 meters, seventh, 4:16.43

Molly Huddle, 5,000 meters, fourth, 15:36.95

Molly Huddle, 1,500 meters, 30th, 4:20.50

Tameisha King, long jump, fifth, 6.61m

Tameisha King, 100-meter hurdles, 30th, 13.52

Stacey Cowan, high jump, 35th, 1.75m

Emily Loomis, high jump, 35th, 1.75m

Jaime Volkmer, pole vault, 35th, 3.90m

Jaime Volkmer, triple jump, 45th, 12.52m

4×100 (T.King, Dodd, Boyd, Love), 22nd, 44.73

4×400 (Love, Dodd, Boyd, Floyd), 32nd, 3:37.58

National list aside, a number of Irish athletes will be in the running for a top-five finish at the regional meet. Sophomore Eric Morrison, coming off his all-BIG EAST finish in the 1,500 meters (third) is 14th (3:44.16) in the highly-competitive 1,500 meter field at the NCAA regional. Morrison will be making the trip to Georgia Tech in an effort to improve his time and has the ability to move on to the NCAA Championship in this event.

Luke Watson, looking to repeat his All-America honor in the 3,000-meter steeplechase from a year ago, will be among the favorites in that event at the regional. Watson is currently sixth on the qualifier list (8:49.45) for the steeplechase. The Stillwater, Minn., native, who won two outdoor BIG EAST titles this season in the steeplechase and 5,000 meters, also has his eyes on an All-America finish in the 5,000 meters. In what could be the premier regional race of the season, Watson will go up against Arkansas’ Alistair Cragg and Eastern Michigan’s Boaz Cheboiywo in the 5,000 meters at the Mideast Regional. Watson is currently fourth on the list (13:38.73), while Cheboiywo is second and Cragg first (13:25.59).

Sophomore Selim Nurudeen successfully defended his BIG EAST outdoor 110-meter hurdle championship two weeks ago and has steadily improved his time this season. He will look to shave even more time off his season-best 13.95 this weekend at Georgia Tech. That 13.95 time is ranked ninth on the regional list and puts Nurudeen in contention to appear in his first NCAA Championship meet – after just missing out on a spot at this season’s indoor meet.

The women’s sprint group will be led at the regional meet by senior Kymia Love and junior Kristen Dodd. Love is currently 19th on the 200-meter list at the regionals, but has shown the ability to rip off great races in big meets. Dodd will get a chance to improve her 12th-place 400-meter time (54.18) at this weekend’s Georgia Tech Invitational.

The 1,500 meters is always a deep and challenging event during the outdoor season, but the Irish women’s team boast three of the best in the region. Sophomore Lauren King has concentrated on the 1,500 meters all season and will enter the regional meet as one of the favorites for the title. Her 4:16.43 season-best time is fourth on the list, followed by freshman Molly Huddle (4:20.50) in eighth. Rookie Stephanie Madia (4:26.98, 18th) also will take a shot at an NCAA Championship qualification in the 1,500 meters.

Huddle’s spectacular American Junior Record 15:36.95, 5,000-meter effort from the Mt. SAC Relays transforms her into the top athlete to watch for the Irish at the regional meet. Her time is 18 seconds faster than the nearest qualifier and, no matter what her finish at the regional meet, she will be running the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Championship. Huddle won the 5,000 meters at the BIG EAST Championship two weeks ago.

Senior Tameisha King, who is putting the final touches on her outstanding Irish career over the next month, will once again be a force to reckon with in her specialty events. King is 10th on the Mideast region list in the 100-meter hurdles (13.52) and second in the long jump (6.61m). King already has two outdoor long jump All-America certificates on her resume (2000, 2002) and is in position to add another this season.

Notre Dame’s women’s team relays are also in solid position entering the regional meet. Going against several of the top teams in the nation, the 4×100 team of Tameisha King, Kristen Dodd, Ayesha Boyd and Kymia Love is ranked fifth in the Mideast Region with a 44.73 effort at the Baldy Castillo Invitational. The 4×400 team of Love, Dodd, Boyd and Tricia Floyd is third on the regional list with a 3:37.58 time.

BIG EAST outdoor high jump champion Emily Loomis leads a triumvirate of Irish athletes who will be in the running for the regional title. Freshman Stacey Cowan is right with Loomis with a 1.75m season-best effort this year, and sophomore Kelsey Wicks has steadily improved in her limited action this year (1.70m as of March 14th).

Senior Jaime Volkmer is looking ahead to her final chance to compete in the NCAA Championship. A BIG EAST Champion and perennial top-30 pole vaulter, Volkmer has yet to appear in the national meet. Her season-best effort of 3.90m this season is ranked 11th in the region, but the Kearney, Neb., native has cleared 4.00m in her career and possesses the ability to finish in the top five and qualify for the NCAA meet.