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Notre Dame Track And Field Begins Hunt For BIG EAST Outdoor Championships

May 2, 2002

Complete Release in PDF Format, including order of events for this weekend’s meet.
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2002 BIG EAST Outdoor Championship *Storrs, Conn. *May 3, 4, 5

Irish ready to compete for BIG EAST titles this weekend:

The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams will send 53 competitors on the trek to Storrs, Conn. this weekend for the 2002 BIG EAST Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Both teams hope to improve upon last year’s performances at the 2001 outdoor competition, at which the men took sixth place and the women placed third overall.

Men’s team hoping to improve on last season’s sixth-place outdoor finish:

Seniors Ryan Shay and Luke Watson will, yet again, be the distance duo to beat come competition time for the men’s team. Last year, Ryan Shay foreshadowed his imminent NCAA Championship success as he easily won the 10,000 meters in 29:17.61. His impressive performance at the prestigious Stanford Invitational this season was marked by a 28:39.43 showing in the 10,000 meters, a season-best effort and a large improvement on his 2001 BIG EAST Championship winning time. Both Watson’s and Shay’s 5000-meter times are enough to make them possible front-runners for the 5000-meter title.

Watson enters as the favorite in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8:38.20). Any event these two run this coming weekend will be fiercely competitive, but a recent string of first-place finishes and strong performances gives this a duo a considerable advantage. The BIG EAST Conference boasts some of the top distance runners in the nation, but Shay and Watson are at the top of their game at the right time of the year.

Watson’s teammates Kevin Somok and Pat Conway have similarly enjoyed consistent improving times this season in 1500-meter competition, as the two will also make the trip to Connecticut. Somok and Conway placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in last year’s 1500-meter event.

Quill Redwine and Godwin Mbagwu look to bring home some field event titles, as both have seen improvement in triple jump measurements this season. Redwine took second place in the BIG EAST outdoor high jump in 2001, as well as sixth in the triple jump.

Senior Derek Dyer, a three-time all-BIG EAST performer, will lead the Irish men’s throw group into competition this weekend. Dyer will be among the contenders for the discus, weight throw and hammer throw titles.

Also look for freshman Selim Nurudeen to likely post top times in hurdle events. Nurudeen currently boasts the team’s top 110-meter and 400-meter hurdle times.

The men’s sprint team will hopefully get a boost from all-BIG EAST indoor standout Dwight Ellick. Also a member of the Irish football team, Ellick qualified for the BIG EAST outdoor meet in both the 100 and 200 meters early in the season, then took time off to participate in the football team’s spring workouts. His performance this weekend will be dependent on his ability to get back in track shape quickly.

Other competitors for the men’s team will include; Juan Alba, David Alber, Mark Barber, William Croker, Derek Dyer, Tom Gilbert, Josh Heck, Ryan Hurd, Ryan Johnson, John Keane, Tom Lennon, Mike Madigan, Mike Mansour, Trevor McClain-Duer, Ryan Mineburg, Todd Mobley, Eric Morrison, Chip Roberts, Nick Saracco, Chris Staron and Napolean Suarez.

Women’s team hopes to defend indoor team title:

The women’s team enters the upcoming competition after claiming the 2002 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championship title, making them a favorite for the outdoor title. In February, the Irish women edged out Georgetown by two points to claim first place. The women utilized their talented depth, as the Irish did not win a single race or event but came away with the team title. The men’s team also had a strong performance at the Indoor Championships, placing third overall, behind Villanova and Connecticut.

Ayesha Boyd’s success at last year’s BIG EAST outdoor competition might have been a precursor of her outstanding sophomore season. Boyd’s third place finish in the 100 meters and seventh place in the 200 meters provided extra motivation for a great summer of workouts. Her 11.69 effort in this season’s Mt. SAC 100-meter race, was a seasonal and personal best time and a considerable improvement on her 11.86 time at the 2001 Championships. Similarly, her 200 meters time has been trimmed from 24.84 to a 23.60 showing at the Baldy Castillo Invitational this season.

enior Liz Grow hopes to defend her 400-meter title (53.17), and mirror her second-place success in the 200 meters (24.20) en route to claiming the 2001 Most Outstanding Track Performer award at last year’s meet. Grow’s spectacular 2002 season includes personal best times of 52.61 in the 400 meters at the Ponoma-Pitzer Invitational, as well as a 23.84 effort in the 200 meters at Notre Dame’s Spring Opener 200. Grow and Boyd will be joined by standout teammates Kymia Love, Tameisha King and Kristen Dodd as they will most likely compete in the 4×100 and 4×400 sprint relay events. These four will demonstrate the talent that had already earned them spots at the starting line of the NCAA Championships in the 4×100 event.

Jennifer Handley and Megan Johnson will be the strongest distance competitors for the women’s team this weekend, as both have posted improved event times this season. Handley’s 2002 personal best 5000 meter time of 16:28.55 is more than 10 minutes faster than the 16:40.36 time that earned her second place at last year’s meet. Johnson’s comparison also is noteworthy, as her ninth-place showing (4:31.02) in last year’s 1500-meter event has been overshadowed by her 2002 Tom Botts Invitational 4:26.24 effort. Both runners will contribute greatly to the already strong women’s team this weekend.

Freshman additions Tiffany Gunn and Lauren King will provide additional depth to the women’s team, as both have shared the spotlight this season with the team’s veteran runners. Gunn has stood out in the hurdle competitions, and King has posted solid times in both cross-country and mid-distance events.

Other competitors for the women’s team: Christi Arnerich, Kate Duman, Andre Duplechain, Jennifer Fibuch, Natalie Hallett, Jennifer Kearney, Betsy Lazzeri, Emily Loomis, Kerry Meagher, Melissa Schmidt, Emily Showman, Jill Van Weelden, Katie Wales and Melissa Webb.