May 4, 2003
The University of Notre Dame men’s track and field team won its second-ever BIG EAST Outdoor Championship on Sunday, just getting by the host team, Connecticut, 139-136.5. Virginia Tech (75), Rutgers (73.5) and Georgetown (73) rounded out the top five.
The Irish men become the first Notre Dame track and field team to win both the indoor and outdoor titles in the same season, after claiming the league indoor crown back in February.
Notre Dame’s victory on Sunday was keyed by three individual championships. Senior Luke Watson followed up his 3,000-meter steeplechase win on Saturday night with a victory in the 5,000 meters on Sunday (14:14.14). Sophomore Selim Nurudeen won his second-consecutive 110-meter hurdle individual title, finishing in 13.95. Junior Godwin Mbagwu stepped up in a surprise victory as well, winning the triple jump with a 15.32m measurement.
The Notre Dame men’s track and field coaching staff, Joe Piane, Tim Connelly, John Millar, Scott Winsor and B.J. Linnenbrink were named the 2003 BIG EAST Outdoor Coaching Staff of the Year.
Breaking Down the Team Title:
As with any track and field team title, it was the combined effort of the entire Irish roster which led to the conference championship. Junior Ryan Hurd finished sixth in the 100 meters (21.59) to earn three points. Freshman Ryan Postel then took sixth in the 400 meters (48.02) for three more points.
In the 1,500 meters, the Irish picked up nine points. Eric Morrison earned his second all-BIG EAST honor of the year (indoor mile run), finishing third in 3:50.65. Junior Kevin Somok ended up sixth in 3:51.25.
Watson’s 5,000-meter victory might have overshadowed his teammates effort in the race. Watson earned 10 points, but a combination four Irish runners in the top eight brought 21 points toward the team total. Senior John Keane took fourth (14:29.75), followed by Tim Moore (14:35.09) in fifth and junior David Alber in seventh (14:38.83).
Mark Barber also scored for Notre Dame in the 110-meter hurdles, following up on Nurudeen’s victory. Barber finished sixth in 15.29. The 400-meter hurdle was destined to be a big scorer for the team with three final-race qualifiers and the group followed through on Sunday. Junior Napolean Suarez finished third (53.15) to earn his first outdoor all-BIG EAST honor. Barber took fourth (53.35) and Roberto Garcia was sixth (1:01.73). In all, the 400-meter relay contingent contributed 12 points to the team total.
The 4×100-meter relay team came through for the team as well. The group of Nurdueen, Postel, Hurd and Barber finished third in 41.31, becoming the first men’s relay group to earn all-BIG EAST honors since 2000.
Notre Dame’s 4×800-meter squad also finished third to earn all-BIG EAST honors. The team of Thomas Chamney, Morrison, Somok and Vinnie Ambrico ran the race in 7:30.63.
The season is not over yet for the Irish men’s track and field team. A final outdoor tune up, the Georgia Tech Invitational, is scheduled for next weekend in Atlanta. The NCAA Regional in Columbus, Ohio, is set for two weeks later, May 30 and 31, and that meet will feature several Irish qualifiers. The NCAA Championship begins June 11 in Sacramento, Calif.