Feb. 20, 2003
Irish hoping to contend in both the men’s and women’s competition:
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams head to Syracuse, NY, this weekend for the 2003 BIG EAST Indoor Championships. The Irish men and women should be in contention for the league titles and the women’s team is hoping to defend their 2002 indoor team crown.
BIG EAST Championship history:
Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s track and field teams have combined for two team titles since they joined the conference in 1996, but have always been among the contenders at every indoor and outdoor meet. The men’s team title came at the outdoor meet in 2000, helped by individual victories by Ryan Shay (5,000, 10,000 meters), Luke Watson (3,000-meter steeplechase) and the 4×100-meter relay team. The women broke through for their first team title at the 2002 indoor meet in unusual fashion, as no single Irish athlete won a BIG EAST title. Notre Dame’s four runner-up finishes and a talented roster brought home last season’s indoor title.
Luke Watson and Tim Moore secure spots on the U.S. Cross Country team:
While the rest of the Notre Dame track and field program either rested for the BIG EAST Championship or went through a final tune up meet at Windsor, freshman Tim Moore and senior Luke Watson made the trip to Houston, Texas, on Feb. 15 & 16, to compete in the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships. Watson, competing in the senior men’s race and Moore, running in the junior men’s race, were looking for top-six finishes to land a spot on the USA National Team that will travel to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 29 & 30.
Both Irish runners made the national team, as Watson finished third in the 4km race in 12:57.4. Moore ended up fifth in his race, finishing the 8km course in 27:29.
What will he do next?
Luke Watson has already achieved many goals this track and field season, and he has yet to reach the first of two NCAA Championships. So far in the 2003 season, Watson has qualified for the NCAA indoor meet in the 3,000 meters, broke the four-minute mile barrier while setting the school record at the Meyo Invitational and reverted to his cross country abilities to secure a spot on the USA Cross Country National Team (see note above).
Watson will run the mile and the 3,000 meters at the BIG EAST Championship and should be the favorite to win each race. He also is looking to break through for his first BIG EAST indoor individual title, as the Stillwater, Minn., native has finished second in the 3,000 meters (2002) and third in the mile (2000, 2002).
Scouting the men’s team:
The men should be among the meet leaders this weekend, but will need outstanding efforts by its distance group to overcome depth issues in the sprint events. The loss of all-BIG EAST performer Dwight Ellick hurt the Notre Dame sprint group this year, but a number of Irish athlete have stepped up to qualify for the meet.
The story of the short track this year is sophomore Selim Nurudeen. Nurudeen won the 110-meter hurdles at the 2002 conference outdoor meet and has carried the momentum from that victory into the ’03 indoor season. Nurudeen currently boasts the team’s top time in both the 60 meters (6.91) and 60-meter hurdles (7.83).
Jules Vandersarl also will be a key factor in the Irish sprint hopes this weekend. Vandersarl is second on the team in the 60 meters (6.94) and second in the 200 meters (22.18) as well. Teammate Ryan Hurd is looking to break through for his first all-BIG EAST honor in the 200 meters, running a 21.77 time at the Meyo Invitational two weeks ago.
Moving up the running distance, the Irish men’s team becomes a bit deeper. Each school can enter four runners in each competition, and the Notre Dame men should fare well in the mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. They also have a number of talented specialists in each event who should each challenge for the individual title.
800 meters – Freshman Thomas Chamney and junior Colin Quinn will take this assignment for the Irish. Chamney has steadily improved his 800-meter time in each meet this season, boasting a top effort of 1:52.29. He is the top Notre Dame qualifier in the event. Quinn ran 1:53.94 at the Meyo Invitational and is capable of running with the best in the conference.
1,000 meters – Geoff Rudziewicz came out of the Meyo Invitational with a great time, running 2:27.42 to be the top Irish qualifier. He will be joined in the race by junior Kevin Somok, who is right behind Rudziewicz with a 2:27.84 effort.
Mile – The mile run has transformed into a strength for the Irish team after the legendary Meyo Mile showed how strong the Notre Dame milers can be in a talented field. Watson (3:57.83) should lead the way for the Irish and set a pace that Eric Morrison (4:01.90), Vinnie Ambrico (4:11.03) and Sean O’Donnell (4:13.98) should be able to follow.
3,000 meters – This event is equally as strong for Notre Dame as the mile. Watson (7:55.78) will once again lead a group of veteran runners; Tim Moore (8:29.19), John Keane (8:29.36) and Marc Striowski (8:29.96). Moore, Keane and Striowski have not run the 3,000 meters in competition for over four weeks and should be able to shave a large chunk of time off their BIG EAST efforts.
5,000 meters – Jason Rexing (1998) and Ryan Shay (2002) are two former Notre Dame runners who pulled off the 3,000/5,000 meter double victory at the BIG EAST indoor meet. Rookie Tim Moore is looking to join them, but he will have to deal with Watson in the 3,000 meters. For the 5,000 meters, Moore should be among the favorites in the race with a 14:22.17 season-best time. Keane (14:33.53), Striowski (14:33.97) and David Alber (14:51.36) will also be in the race.
Notre Dame field event specialists will have to be on the top of their game this weekend to score valuable points for the Irish. Godwin Mbagwu enters the meet with the Irish hopes in both the triple jump (14.79m) and long jump (6.98m). Mbagwu finished second in the BIG EAST indoor triple jump in 2001. The Irish will have three entries in the high jump, led by sophomore Chris Staron (2.06m). Ryan Mineburg (2.00m) and Stephen Walchuk (1.98m) have also qualified.
The throws group will look to score multiple points in the weight throw with three qualifiers, led by Brian Thornburg (16.65m). Juan Alba is the lone Irish qualifier in the shot put (15.42m).
Scouting the women’s team:
Notre Dame will enter the meet on Saturday and Sunday as one of the favorites in the race for the women’s title. The Irish are deep in every event, save the throws, where freshman Meghan Horn carries the team hopes in the shot put and weight throw.
The women’s sprint group has the depth and talent to compete for each individual title this weekend. In the 60 meters, Tameisha King and Kymia Love enter the meet with the top time in the conference (7.51) and are joined by fellow speedsters Ayesha Boyd (7.65) and Kristen Dodd (7.68) in the competition. The 60-meter hurdles are in good hands with Tameisha King and Tiffany Gunn – who are both among the top qualifiers.
Tameisha King has been a top performer for Notre Dame this season and is hoping to cap her stellar career with an individual BIG EAST title. The Mableton, Ga., native has won two relay titles (4×100 relay at the 2001 and 2002 outdoor meet) but has yet to break through for an individual crown. She finished second in the indoor long jump in 2000 and third in the long jump in 2001. King’s 6.31m season-best long jump effort this year is the best in the conference entering the championship meet.
Getting back to the rest of the sprinters, Notre Dame will enter Tanya Cheatham (25.40), Tricia Floyd (25.48), Latasha Steele (25.50) and Ayesha Boyd (25.60) in the 200 meters. Boyd finished second in the 200 meters at the BIG EAST indoor meet last season and is gradually getting back into top form after a leg injury hampered her early-season development.
In the 400 meters, Notre Dame will have the devastating combination of Kymia Love (54.23) and Kristen Dodd (55.21). Love might be the favorite entering the race, but her teammate should be right there with her at the finish line.
Gunn will be back on the track in the 500 meters for Notre Dame as the lone qualifier (1:13.90).
Increasing the distance of the race does not diminish the Notre Dame team strength. In the 800 meters, Kerry Meagher (2:15.17) and Ana Morales (2:15.19) will race for the Irish, while Meagher (2:53.40) and Elizabeth Webster (2:55.56) will run the 1,000 meters. The mile run will have four talented Irish distance specialists, led by Lauren King (4:49.84). Lauren King will be a workhorse for Notre Dame on Saturday and Sunday, as she is slated to run the mile, 800 meters and a portion of the DMR. Megan Johnson (4:55.55), Stephanie Madia (5:04.72) and Christi Arnerich (5:05.71) also will be in the mile race.
The 3,000-meter race will feature top qualifier and school-record holder freshman Molly Huddle. Huddle is looking to grab Notre Dame’s second-ever BIG EAST distance indoor title (JoAnna Deeter, 5,000 meters, 1999) and has already established herself as a contender for the national championship in March. Senior Jennifer Handley will be in the 3,000 meters (9:37.10) and the 5,000 meters.
The field events are another place where Notre Dame is looking to pick up some crucial team points. Senior Jaime Volkmer enters the meet as the favorite in the pole vault, as she has eclipsed her own school record twice this season (3.90m). Volkmer has finished second in the pole vault for three consecutive seasons at the BIG EAST indoor meet and is focused on getting to the top of the medal stand this weekend.
Volkmer will also appear in the triple jump and has consistently scored points in that event in each season of competition at Notre Dame.
Although Volkmer is the favorite in the pole vault, she is not the only Irish vaulter who could grab the individual title. Freshman Laura Huarte and junior Jill VanWeelden have both cleared 3.66m this season and are looking to make it a one-two-three sweep for Notre Dame.
The high jump is another field event in which the Irish could score a number of team points. Stacey Cowan, who will compete in the pentathlon, has the top Irish effort of 1.77m. Last season’s BIG EAST indoor third-place finisher Emily Loomis (1.75m) is also in the competition, as well as Betsy Lazzeri (1.70m) and Jennifer Kearney (1.68m).
As mentioned early, freshman Meghan Horn will be the lone Notre Dame representative in both throws. The rookie should be able to contend for a top-five spot in the shot put (13.93m) and has improved her weight throw (13.98m) in every meet this season.
BIG EAST results:
A complete recap will be posted on www.und.com. The BIG EAST Conference will post full results on its website www.bigeast.org.