May 4, 2002
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams are in contention for two team titles at the 2002 BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Storrs, Conn.
After the second day of competition on Saturday, the men’s team has a three point lead over Connecticut (55-52), while the women’s team leads a large pack of contenders with 29 points.
Many of the final races will be run on Sunday and the Irish women’s sprint team has put themselves in position for a high scoring day.
Sophomores Ayesha Boyd and Kristen Dodd have moved into final races in the 100 and 200 meters on Sunday, assuring the team points in both events. Boyd’s 11.74 100 time and 23.74 200 time was the third-best qualifying time in both races. Dodd was equally consistent, running the seventh-best 100 time (11.86) and sixth-best 200 time (24.16).
Moving up the sprint distance did not impede the Irish results on Saturday. All-American Liz Grow will be going for her fourth BIG EAST Conference title on Sunday after blistering the field in the 400 meters. Her 52.76 qualification time was over 1.30 second faster than the nearest competitor. Teammate Kymia Love will be there to give Grow a run for the title after posting the third-best qualifying time (54.61).
The women’s hurdle team will also have two competitors in the mix for individual titles on Sunday. Tameisha King’s 13.81 effort in the 100-meter hurdles puts her fifth entering the finals tomorrow, while freshman Tiffany Gunn also is fifth in the 400-meter hurdles (1:02.21).
The 1,500 meters requires both a preliminary and final race at the conference meet, and, once again, the women’s team will have a strong presence on Sunday. Cross country All-American Lauren King will be looking for her first individual title, after running the third-best 1,500-meter time (4:27.96) on Saturday. Megan Johnson (4:29.60, eighth) will run with King in the final race as well.
There were some final races run for the women’s team on Sunday, and a number of competitors contributed valuable points toward the team title. Jennifer Fibuch and Katie Wales finished five-six in the 10,000 meters and accounted for seven team points. Emily Showman rounded out the women’s distance group points on Saturday with a sixth-place effort in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
In the field events, the women’s pole vault group has been a strength for the team over the last few seasons at the conference level and pulled through for the team once again on Saturday. Jaime Volkmer ended up with all-BIG EAST honors in the vault, clearing 12-5 1/2 to finish behind West Virginia’s Erin Nett (Nett’s 12-11 1/2 clearance set a meet record). Jill Van Weelden also scored points in the pole vault with a sixth-place, 11-5 3/4 clearance.
Volkmer pulled double duty for the team on Saturday, grabbing four points with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump.
One of the better all-around athletes to compete for the Irish women’s team in the past few years, Betsy Lazzeri broke her own school record in the heptathlon by piling up 4,489 points in fifth place.
The men’s team effort on Saturday was highlighted by two individual titles. After sitting out the 2001 track and field season with a knee injury, senior Luke Watson returned to the conference meet in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in fine form, defending his 2000 conference title from two years earlier. Watson destroyed the rest of the field, cruising to victory in 8:37.61 and improving his season best time that was already qualified for the NCAA Championship. Watson’s closest competitor was 13 second behind, but teammate David Alber was in that pack, finishing in 9:03.82 (fourth place) to bump the team point total earned in the steeplechase to 15.
Moving up to the 10,000 meters, 2001 National Champion and nine-time All-American Ryan Shay won his third consecutive 10,000-meter individual title with another impressive performance. Shay lapped the field to finish in 28:55.67, almost a minute ahead of Dermot Galvin from Providence in second place (29:52.20). Sophomore Todd Mobley, who is still hoping to appear in the 10,000 meter race at the NCAA Championship in three weeks, earned all-BIG EAST honors with a 30:28.57 third-place effort.
With no Irish men’s sprinter qualified for a final race on Sunday, the hurdle group, middle distance and field event specialists needed to step up to keep the team ahead of the field.
Freshman Selim Nurudeen began the day for the hurdle group on a high note, ripping off a career-best 14.14 qualifying run in the 110-meter hurdles. That time is over .30 seconds faster than any other qualifier for the final race and puts the rookie in great shape for his first individual conference title. Sophomore Mark Barber continued his year-long improvement in the 110-meter hurdles as well, qualifying eighth in the field and assuring the men’s team two point producers in the event on Sunday.
Nurudeen was unable to qualify in the 400-meter hurdles, but teammate Napolean Suarez picked up the slack to get in the field on Sunday. Suarez’ 53.81 time puts him eighth in the final race.
In a very strong 1,500-meter field, Kevin Somok and Pat Conway put themselves in the final race tomorrow with the 10th and 11th-best times. The entire field on Sunday will be separated by just a second according to the qualifying times run on Saturday.
Freshman Eric Morrison will represent the team in the 800 meters on Sunday with the sixth-fastest qualifying time (1:52.34) in the event.
The men’s field event group received a boost from senior Derek Dyer. Dyer’s finished fourth in the shot put (16.29m – 53-5) and grabbed all-BIG EAST honors in the discus (52.10m – 170-11). Juan Alba joined Dyer in scoring points for the discus, finishing behind his teammate in fourth place (50.55m – 165-10).
Freshman Ryan Mineburg just missed out on earning his first all-BIG EAST honor with a fourth-place effort (2.06m – 6-9) in the high jump, while Tom Gilbert scored in the long jump by finishing sixth (7.19m – 23-7 3/4).
Both teams return to action at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Men’s Team Standings
1. Notre Dame, 55 pts.
2. Connecticut, 52 pts.
3. Rutgers, 33 pts.
4. West Virginia, 31 pts.
5. Georgetown, 27 pts.
Women’s Team Standings
1. Notre Dame, 29 pts.
2. Villanova, 26 pts.
Miami, 26 pts.
4. Providence, 24 pts.
Rutgers, 24 pts.
6. Boston College, 23.5 pts.