May 4, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — With nine school records already in hand, the Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams will be out to improve upon their 1999 second (men) and third- (women) place finishes at this weekend’s BIG EAST outdoor championships at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., May 5-7.

The Notre Dame men, who came up just three points short of claiming the school’s first BIG EAST outdoor track title in 1999, are led by a strong contingent of seniors, including Marshaun West (Sikeston, Mo.), the 1999 BIG EAST Most Outstanding Track Performer. West has already reached a NCAA provisional mark in the long jump and will be joined in the sprint events by classmate and All-American Chris Cochran (Crystal Lake, Ill.), who returns to defend his 400-meter title. Fellow senior All-Americans Phil Mishka (Toledo, Ohio), sixth nationally in the 800, and Tim Kober (Gillette, N.J.), 10th nationally also in the 800, provide the Irish with national-level talent in the middle distance events

In the distance lane, junior All-American Ryan Shay (Central Lake, Mich.) will be a strong contender to claim his first BIG EAST Outdoor title, having run automatic times twice this season in the 10,000, including a season-best and U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying time of 28:26.91. Shay’s season best time also broke a more than decade old school record, as did sophomore Luke Watson’s (Stillwater, Minn.) time of 8:46.98 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Notre Dame field event competitors will be without recent graduates and BIG EAST standouts Jay Hofner (throws) and Mike Brown (pole vault), but will be led by West in the long jump, sophomore Quill Redwine (San Antonio, Texas) in the high jump and triple jump and senior Matt Thompson (Granite Bay, Calif.) and sophomore Derek Dyer (Huntington, Ind.) in the throws.

The Irish women will be out to prove that their nine place jump from 12th to 3rd in 1999 was no fluke. Seniors Jennifer Engelhardt (high jump) and Alison Klemmer (10,000 meters) return to defend their BIG EAST titles, while sophomores and all-BIG EAST performers Liz Grow (sprints) and Dore DeBartolo (throws) give the Irish quality finishes in a number of events.

The story of the Notre Dame outdoor season, however, has been the success of the freshmen especially in the field events. Jamie Volkmer (Kearney, Neb.) has reached school records in both the pole vault and triple jump, Tameisha King (Mableton, Ga.) earned the school record in the long jump and Andre Duplechain (Port Barre, La.) set a school record in the javelin at the only home track meet of the season, April 1.

Weekend Wrap-Up: The Notre Dame track and field teams split their squads Friday and Saturday to attend two different meets, the Drake Relays and the Boiler Open, in their final tune-up before the BIG EAST championships.

At the prestigious Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, the men’s 4×100-meter relay team of seniors Chris Cochran (Crystal Lake, Ill.) and Marshaun West (Sikeston, Mo.), junior Travis Davey (St. James, N.Y.) and freshman Tom Gilbert (Rock Falls, Ill.) recorded a time of 41.06 in the 4×100-meter relay en route to a third-place finish. Senior Jennifer Engelhardt (Battle Creek, Mich.) rounded out the team’s top-five finishers after tying for fourth in the high jump by clearing 5-8 3/4. Senior Matt Thompson (Granite Bay, Calif.) also recorded a team season-best mark of 175-4 in the discus , while senior middle distance runner Tim Kober (Gillette, N.J.) rounded out the Irish highlights with a personal best time of 1:48.48 in the 800 meters to provisionally qualify for the NCAAs.

At the Boiler Open at nearby Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., Notre Dame earned three event titles all in the distance running events. Junior Chrissy Kuenster (Wheaton, Ill.) won the women’s 3,000 meters Friday with a personal best time of 10:16.67, sophomore Anne McGrath (Belmont, Mich.) then followed up Kuenster’s performance with a victory at 10,000 meters and senior men’s distance runner Mike Griewe (Tampa, Fla.) rounded out the Notre Dame winners with a first-place finish in the 5,000 meters in 14:54.48, a personal-best time.

Upcoming: The Irish will be off to the Billy Hayes Invitational, May 13, with the goal of improving their times/marks in order to qualify for the NCAA championships, which begin May 31 in Durham, N.C.