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Molly Huddle Highlights A Great Day For Track And Field At The NCAA Regional

May 28, 2004

The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the 2004 NCAA Mideast Regional at LSU on Friday evening, with several of the Irish athletes taking part in preliminary races to qualify for the finals on Saturday.

Sophomore Molly Huddle won her second-straight 5,000-meter title on Friday, holding off Michigan State’s Jamie Krzyminski. Huddle finished in 16:12.42, while Krzyminski ended up at 16:13.67. The two-time NCAA Mideast 5,000-meter champion, Huddle shaved just a bit off time from her 2003 effort (16:12.81).

Huddle will move on to the NCAA Championship and is a strong contender to become Notre Dame’s first women’s individual national champion. The NCAA Championship is being held in Austin, Texas, on June 9-12. The top three finishers from each NCAA regional automatically advance, as well as other at-large qualifiers to fill out the field.

Among the other highlights for Notre Dame on Friday, junior Selim Nurudeen ran the third-fastest 110-meter hurdle time in school history, while freshman Maryann Erigha ran the fourth-fastest 200-meter time for the women’s team. After completion of the preliminaries on Friday, Notre Dame sent four of its nine competitors into their respective final races on Saturday.

Junior Kerry Meagher advanced to the finals of the 1,500 meters at the regional for the second straight season on Friday evening. Meagher ran 4:20.86 in heat one – the seventh-best qualification time in the field. Tiffany McWilliams of Mississippi State will enter Saturday’s final (5:15 p.m.) with the top time of 4:16.42. Meagher has posted a 4:16.88 1,500-meter time this season and will be among the contenders in the final race.

Junior Selim Nurudeen competed very well against several of the best hurdlers in the nation on Friday, moving on to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles. Nurudeen is looking to qualify for his first outdoor NCAA Championship, after making the NCAA indoor meet this season in the 60-meter hurdles.

Nurudeen finished second in heat three, crossing the line in 13.57. That stellar effort is a personal-best for the four-time BIG EAST Champion and ends up as the third-fastest 110-meter hurdle time in school history (and the fastest since 1998). Errol Williams ran a time of 13.53 at the 1998 NCAA Championship, while Tom McMannon (1971) holds the school record at 13.50.

Nurudeen ranks as the fourth-fastest qualifier entering the final race on Saturday at 5:37 p.m.

Freshman Maryann Erigha, competing in her first NCAA regional on Friday, just missed moving on to the final race of the 200 meters. Erigha finished fifth in heat two with a personal best 23.70, but the final qualifier ended up at 23.65. Erigha’s effort cannot be overlooked, however, as the 23.70 time is the fourth-fastest in school history. Unfortunately for Erigha, Notre Dame competes in arguably the top sprint regional in the country – but the great time will gives the rookie a strong effort to build on for the 2005 season.

Notre Dame’s three competitors in the 1,500 meters all ran well in the preliminary race, but senior Kevin Somok ended up as the odd man out. Freshman Kurt Benninger finished fourth in heat one (3:48.16), while junior Eric Morrison matched his finish in heat two (3:52.10). Somok was sixth in heat two, but his 3:52.19 time was just inched out by Wisconsin’s Bobby Lockhart’s 3:52.13 for the final spot in the 1,500-meter final on Saturday at 5:22 p.m.

Morrison will be competing in the 1,500-meter final regional race for the second straight season on Saturday. He finished ninth a year ago in 3:53.07.

Junior Tiffany Gunn competed in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing sixth in heat two (1:04.26). She ended up 22nd overall in the preliminaries. Sophomore Ryan Postel, who will also compete in the men’s 4×400-meter relay on Saturday, warmed up with a solid effort in the 400-meter preliminaries on Friday. Postel finished second in heat two (47.46) and 20th overall.

Sophomore Thomas Chamney ended up 14th in the 800 meters on Friday, running a season-best 1:50.14. He was just off of the final race qualifying time of 1:49.49.

The NCAA Mideast Regional continues on Saturday, with the field events beginning at 12:00 noon. Notre Dame did not have any field event competitors in action on Friday evening.