Feb. 13, 2003
Windsor Team Challenge offers final tune up for 2003 BIG EAST Championship:
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams, fresh off an impressive showing at the Meyo Invitational, will head to Canada this weekend for the University of Windsor Team Challenge.
The Irish have made the trip to Ontario for the last two seasons and it ends up as a perfect tune up for the 2003 BIG EAST Championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY, on Feb. 22 & 23. Windsor’s track has the same dimensions and surface as the elements Notre Dame will face in the Carrier Dome, so the Team Challenge provides the Irish with a chance to get a head start for the conference meet.
Both teams are in good shape heading into the BIG EAST meet, as both the men and women have shown the depth and talent to compete for the team title.
Irish program still buzzing about the now-legendary Meyo Mile:
The entire Notre Dame track and field program is still talking about the Meyo Mile run during the Meyo Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 8. Luke Watson ended up with the victory in 3:57.83, becoming just the second Irish athlete to break the four-minute mile barrier. Watson led a group of five runners that all ran under four minutes, and pulled along teammates Eric Morrison and Kevin Somok (who are now second and third in the BIG EAST in the mile).
All five lead runners ended up posting the five fastest mile times in the world this season.
Notre Dame athletes among the BIG EAST and national leaders:
Notre Dame’s early-season success has propelled many of its runners and field event specialists into the upper echelon of the BIG EAST top times lists and the NCAA qualification lists. Here is a break down of where the Irish are in the BIG EAST and the nation.
The Irish have put themselves in position to compete for their second-consecutive team title at the BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame ranks well in the sprints, led by senior Kymia Love. Love is first in the BIG EAST in the 200 meters (23.88) and second in the 400 meters (54.23). She also ranks nationally at ninth in the 200 meters and 13th in the 400 meters.
At the BIG EAST level, Notre Dame athletes appear all over the top 10 across all the sprints. Tameisha King and Love share the conference top time in the 60 meters (7.51), while Ayesha Boyd is 10th (7.65) and Kristen Dodd is 11th (7.68). Dodd is also 11th in the 200 meters (24.8) and sixth in the 400 meters (55.21). Tiffany Gunn moved up to fourth in the conference in the 400 meters with a great run at the Meyo Invitational, finishing in 54.65. Gunn also is 11th in the 60-meter hurdles (8.85) while Tameisha King is third in the conference (8.56). Notre Dame’s 4×400-meter relay team has put up a time of 3:41.52, which is currently third in the conference.
Moving up the distance, the Irish women have a number of runners in position for an individual title. Freshman Molly Huddle ran a spectacular 3,000 meters at the Meyo Invitational, shattering the school record while posting a 9:14.33 effort. She is first in the BIG EAST Conference with that time and fifth in the nation. She will be joined at the NCAA Championship by fellow automatic qualifier Lauren King, who ran 9:19.52 at the Meyo Invitational and is currently 13th in the country (and fifth in the BIG EAST).
Senior Jennifer Handley will be running with her two teammates at the conference meet in the 3,000 meters, as her 9:37.10 time puts her 11th in the conference.
Lauren King will play a large hand in Notre Dame’s team points at the BIG EAST meet, as she is 12th in the 800 meters (2:14.16) and ninth in the mile (4:49.84). Notre Dame also looks strong in the 1,000 meters, as sophomore Kerry Meagher has posted the fifth-best time in the conference this season (2:53.40) and senior Ana Morales is right behind with a seventh-place time (2:54.40).
In the field events, the Irish are well represented in every event. Senior Jaime Volkmer has stepped up to lead the team in the pole vault and triple jump. Volkmer is looking to break through for her first BIG EAST title this season, and she currently owns the conference’s best clearance in the pole vault (3.90m). Volkmer is 26th in the nation in the pole vault and will hope to improve her mark at both the Windsor Team Challenge and the BIG EAST Championship. She is looking to become the first Irish women’s pole vaulter to qualify for the NCAA Championship meet. Volkmer also will look to score valuable team points for Notre Dame in the triple jump, as her season-best effort of 12.25m is fifth-best in the conference this year.
Volkmer’s main competition for the pole vault conference crown might come from two teammates. Junior Jill VanWeelden and freshman Laura Huarte have both cleared 3.66m this season and are currently tied for second in the conference.
As deep as the Irish are at the conference level in the pole vault, they might be even deeper in the high jump. Freshman Stacey Cowan posted a great effort during the pentathlon at the Meyo Invitational, clearing 1.77m. That means the rookie is nipping at the heels of the school record (1.80m) and could qualify for the NCAA Championship (she is 17th in the nation as of Feb. 13). Right behind Cowan is sophomore Emily Loomis (1.75m), ranked fourth in the conference. Loomis came through with third-place efforts at both the BIG EAST indoor and outdoor meets last season.
Senior Betsy Lazzeri and junior Jennifer Kearney can also compete for the individual title in the high jump, as Lazzeri is seventh in the conference (1.70m) and Kearney is ninth (1.68m).
The women’s throw group is represented by one person, but freshman Meghan Horn has shown the ability to be among the best in the conference this season. She is currently sixth in the shot put (13.93m) and has threatened the school record in that event. Horn has also been a quick study in the weight throw, qualifying for the BIG EAST meet with a 13.98m toss at the Meyo Invitational. Her steady improvement with both implements could transform Horn into one of the top point scorers for the Irish at the BIG EAST meet.
The men’s team has been led by two outstanding individuals this season, sophomore sprint/hurdler Selim Nurudeen and senior distance specialist Luke Watson. Nurudeen has kept the momentum from his 2002 BIG EAST Championship in the 110-meter hurdles going strong during the ’03 indoor season. Nurudeen boasts the team top times in both the 60 meters (6.91, seventh in the BIG EAST) and 60-meter hurdles (7.83, third in the BIG EAST). His 7.83 time from the finals at the Meyo Invitational put the Friendswood, Texas, native in position for a possible berth in the NCAA Championship. Nurudeen is currently 14th on the NCAA performance list.
Watson has been spectacular thus far in ’03. His 3:57.83 mile run last weekend has caught everyone’s attention, but the fifth-year senior from Stillwater, Minn., also is among the conference leaders in the 3,000 meters (7:55.78, first in the BIG EAST, fourth in the nation) and the 5,000 meters (14:30.70, fourth in the BIG EAST). Watson will be looking to break through for his first indoor BIG EAST title this season. He has won the 3,000-meter steeplechase twice (2000, 2002) and the outdoor 5,000 meters (2002).
Though Nurudeen and Watson have garnered many of the headlines, they are not alone among the Irish competitors at the top of the BIG EAST performance lists. Ryan Hurd improved his 200 meter time to 21.77 at the Meyo Invitational and is currently fifth in the conference. Junior Mark Barber might give the Irish two scorers in the 60-meter hurdles, as his 8.40 time against Ball State is seventh in the conference.
In the 400 and 500 meters, the Irish hopes rest with sophomore Trevor McClain-Duer. He is 10th in the 400 meters (48.51), 13th in the 500 meters (1:04.13) and has shown the ability to improve both times at the conference meet. Moving up the distance, the Irish strength shows through with 30 Irish athletes qualified for the BIG EAST meet in the 800, 1,000, mile, 3,000 and 5,000 meters combined.
Eric Morrison leads the pack in the 800 meters, running 1:52.07 against Ball State (a time which ranks sixth in the conference). Freshman Thomas Chamney, a true Irishman who calls Clomel, Ireland, home, is eighth in the conference for the 800 meters (1:52.29). At 1,000 meters, senior Geof Rudziewicz ripped off a great run at the Meyo Invite (2:27.42) to move up to sixth in the conference. Junior Kevin Somok is right behind in seventh (2:27.84) and freshman Vinnie Ambrico is 10th (2:28.66).
The mile run is dominated by the Irish athletes involved in the Meyo Mile. Watson leads the way with his 3:57.83 effort, but Morrison is right behind in second place in the conference (4:01.90) and Somok is third (4:03.82). Not to be outdone, Ambrico, who ran in the regular mile run after the Meyo Mile last weekend, is eighth in the conference (4:11.03). Notre Dame’s mile runners are also ranked nationally, as Watson is first, Morrison is 10th and Somok is 14th – putting all three runners in position to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship field.
Watson’s conference-best 3,000 meter effort has already been mentioned, but Morrison, Tim Moore, John Keane and Marc Striowski have all qualified for the BIG EAST meet as well. The 5,000 meters also will be well-represented by the Irish, as Tim Moore has posted the league’s best time in the event at the Meyo Invitational (14:22.17) and is followed by Watson (fourth, 14:30.70), Keane (sixth, 14:33.53) and Striowski (14:33.97).
In the field events, Godwin Mbagwu has proved to be the top Irish performer in the horizontal jumps. Mbagwu is ninth in the conference in the long jump (6.98m) and sixth in his specialty, the triple jump (14.79m). Sophomore Chris Staron is looking to improve his high jump finish at the indoor meet from a year ago, when he finished third to earn all-BIG EAST honors. Staron is currently fifth in the conference with a 2.06m clearance, while teammate Ryan Mineburg is 10th after posting a 2.00m effort.
Notre Dame’s throws group has steadily improved this season, as two Irish athletes rank in the top five for the weight throw. Brian Thornburg tossed the weight 16.65m against Michigan State, a mark which puts him fourth in the conference. Chip Roberts is right behind in fifth place with a 16.45m effort against Ball State. In the shot put, Juan Alba carries the Irish hopes with a 15.72m measurement against Ball State. Alba is currently ninth in the conference standings.
The Team Power Ranking is a unique system of ranking teams based on the quality of athletic performance, team depth and dual-meet scoring potential. The system rates teams in the same fashion as a decathlete of heptathlete. Points are assigned for two athletes in each event and on the basis of quality of performance. The top person in each event has his/her points doubled to adjust for the value of the number of the ranking score. The points for all events are then totaled for the rankings score.
The Team Power Rankings are sponsored by the United States Track and Field Coaches Association (USTCA).
The rankings can be viewed at www.team-power.org.
The Team Power Rankings can constantly change, depending on which team updates the site from day to day. Currently (2-13-03), the Irish women are seventh and the men are 19th.