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Molly Huddle Runs Away With Mideast Regional 5,000-meter Title

May 30, 2003

The first-ever NCAA Mideast Regional began on Friday evening at Ohio State and freshman Molly Huddle provided a dramatic victory for Notre Dame, running away from the field to win the 5,000 meters and automatically advance to the NCAA Championship in Sacramento, Calif. (June 11-14).

Huddle finished the race in 16:12.81, setting the Jesse Owens track record and finishing 20 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. Teammate and senior Jennifer Handley ran extremely well in the same race, finishing fifth and putting herself in position to compete in the national championship race as well.

The regional format is new for collegiate track and field. The top five from the finals in most competitions will move on to the national championship meet.

The men’s 5,000 meters was also held on Friday evening and senior Luke Watson ensured himself a spot in the NCAA meet as well with an impressive third-place effort in the elite field. Watson crossed the finish line in 14:07.11, coming in behind Alistair Cragg from Arkansas (14:05.45) and Boaz Cheboiywo from Eastern Michigan (14:07.11).

Senior Tameisha King, in pursuit of her third All-America honor in the long jump, put herself in position to accomplish that goal with a fifth-place finish on Friday. King’s next-to-last jump (6.32m) ended up as her best of the day. The 20-9 leap also scored four points for the women’s team, putting them in second place of the team competition after the first day.

With some of the most talented sprint groups in the country at the Mideast Regional, the Irish women’s sprint team would have to be at their best this weekend to move on to the national meet. On Friday, the women’s 4×100-meter relay took a solid step toward earning a spot in the national championship field with a 44.95 effort in heat three of the preliminaries. The team of Tameisha King, junior Kristen Dodd, sophomore Ayesha Boyd and senior Kymia Love ended up second in the heat and fifth overall – ensuring a spot in the final race at 6 p.m. on Saturday. This same group of runners earned All-America honors in the 4×100 at last season’s NCAA meet in Baton Rouge, La.

The women’s 1,500-meter contingent of sophomore Lauren King, freshman Stephanie Madia and sophomore Kerry Meagher provided one of the highlights for the Irish on Friday. King was one of nine runners to break the track record in the event, finishing second in heat two and fourth overall in 4:21.31. She will appear in the finals, while Madia (4:26.28) and Meagher (4:28.55) also earned a spot in the final race. Madia took sixth in heat one and 11th overall, while Meagher was seventh in the first heat and 12th overall.

Freshman Thomas Chamney entered the highly competitive 800-meter field on Friday evening and finish fourth in his heat with a 1:51.19 effort. He ended up 15th overall in the competition, missing out on the final race by seven spots.

Two Irish competitors appeared in the preliminaries of the 400 meters. Senior Kymia Love entered the third heat, finishing fourth in the race in 55.39. Sophomore Tiffany Gunn ran in the fourth heat, posting a 55.00 effort. Gunn ended up 11th overall in the field, while Love was 13th.

Sophomore Eric Morrison grabbed a spot in the finals of the 1,500 meters, taking 11th place overall with a 3:48.65 time. Morrison ran in the third heat, finishing fifth in that race. There will be 12 runners in the finals on Saturday at 6:23 p.m.

Junior Kevin Somok also competed in the 1,500 meters, finishing seventh in heat one (3:52.03) and 17th overall.

Junior throw specialist Juan Alba competed well in his first regional competition. Alba finished third in the first flight of the hammer throw, as his first toss of the competition ended up as his best. Alba settled in at 23rd in the overall competition with his 52.06m (170-10) toss. He also competed in the discus throw, but struggled with three fouls and was unable to put up a measurement in the first flight.