Jan. 30, 2003

Complete Release in PDF Format, including team schedule, order of events for the Notre Dame vs. Michigan State dual meet and a complete list of Irish BIG EAST qualifiers
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The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams continue their three-weekend homestand on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m, as the Irish play host to Michigan State in Loftus Sports Center .

The Irish are almost to the midpoint of the 2003 indoor season and have three meets in the record books. In dual meet action last Friday, the men’s team knocked off Ball State while the women downed Ball State and Western Michigan.

Field events begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday with the men’s long jump. Running events are set to begin at 7 p.m. with the women’s 500 meters. Complete results of the meet will be available on www.und.com.

Irish look strong early in the season:

Though indoor track and field teams across the nation are just beginning to hit their stride in late January, Notre Dame has competed well early in the season and are well represented on the BIG EAST Conference top times list. The women’s team is looking to defend its 2002 BIG EAST indoor title this season, while the men are hoping to break through for their first team title after finishing either second or third at every indoor championship since Notre Dame joined the conference in 1996.

Before looking at the BIG EAST contenders, three Irish athletes have already established NCAA consideration times and marks. Tameisha King’s school-record 6.31m long jump effort at the Central Michigan Opener puts the Irish senior in contention for the NCAA individual title. As of Jan. 29, King boasts the top long jump distance in the nation according to the NCAA Championships website. The Mableton, Ga., native has two All-America long jump efforts on her resume already (’00, ’02) but both of those honors were captured during the outdoor season. She did qualify for the NCAA indoor meet in ’02, finishing sixth in the preliminaries.

An All-American on Notre Dame’s 4×400 outdoor last season, senior Kymia Love is making a name for herself in an individual event this season. Love ripped off a great 23.88 200-meter effort against Ball State and Western Michigan on Jan. 24. That time ranks first in the BIG EAST Conference and seventh in the nation. Love competed at the 2002 NCAA indoor meet as a member of Notre Dame’s 4×400 relay team.

Freshman Molly Huddle, running her first track event with the Irish last Friday, also put up an impressive time. Huddle cruised to victory in the 3,000 meters to finish in 9:31.53, just missing JoAnna Deeter’s school-record 9:30.82 effort in 1998. An All-American on the Notre Dame cross country team that finished third at the NCAA Championship last fall, Huddle’s 9:31.53 time is currently second in the BIG EAST and seventh in the nation.

Focusing back on the BIG EAST Conference top times list, both the Notre Dame men and women will have the ability to compete for the team title in February. On the women’s side, Notre Dame owns the top effort in four events while the men appear all over the top five in several events.

Tameisha King not only owns the conference top long jump effort, her 7.51 60-meter time from the Central Michigan Open is tied with teammate Kymia Love for the best in the conference. King’s 8.56 time in the 60-meter hurdles is third in the BIG EAST.

The Irish women’s pole vault contingent looks strong once again with the addition of freshman Laura Huarte. Huarte, the niece of former Irish Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, combines with teammates Jaime Volkmer and Jill Van Weelden to lead the conference pole vault best marks list with a 3.66m (12-0) clearance. Volkmer, one of the top performers on the Irish team for the last three years, has also bettered one of her own school records this season. Her 12.25m (40-2 1/4) triple jump measurement from the Central Michigan Opener eclipsed her own career best set in 2000.

Other top conference rankings for the women’s team include Kristen Dodd (third in the 400 meters, 55.21), Tiffany Gunn (third, 500 meters, 1:13.90), Kerry Meagher (fourth, 1,000 meters, 2:53.81) and Emily Loomis (fourth, high jump, 1.70m).

The men’s team has shown surprising depth this season, even with the loss of all-BIG EAST sprint performer Dwight Ellick to injury this season.

Sophomore Selim Nurudeen, carrying over the momentum from his 2002 BIG EAST Championship in the outdoor 110-meter hurdles, has stepped up early in his second indoor season. Nurudeen’s 6.91 60-meter time is sixth in the conference and his 7.99 60-meter hurdle time is second.

Moving up to the 200 meters, ever-improving junior Ryan Hurd ran 21.85 at the Blue and Gold Invitational, a time that is ranked fifth in the conference. Increase the distance and the Irish strengths truly begin to show.

Notre Dame has 13 runners ranked in the top 10 of the 800 meters, 1,000 meters, mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters top times list according to the latest conference release.

Senior Luke Watson, who finished third in the 3,000 meters at the NCAA indoor meet a year ago, is just getting warmed up this season. Watson has his eyes set achieving a sub-four minute mile at the Meyo Invitational in two weeks and his first mile effort of the year, run last weekend in 4:08.31, ranks second in the conference. Watson is also fifth in the 3,000 meters (8:24.83) and third in the 5,000 meters (14:30.70) and has only run each race once this season.

Watson is not alone in the distance lane, however. Junior Kevin Somok looks poised to do some damage at the conference level, running the third-best 1,000 meter time so far (2:27.84) and the ninth-best 800 meter time (1:53.88).

Sophomore Eric Morrison, who finished seventh in the BIG EAST outdoor 800 meters a year ago, is currently ranked second this season (1:52.07) and sixth in the 3,000 meters (8:25.40).

Notre Dame’s freshman class also has made its presence felt early in the indoor season. Vinnie Ambrico, Thomas Chamney and Tim Moore have all qualified for two events at the BIG EAST indoor meet so far. Ambrico and Chamney have qualified in the 800 and 1,000 meters, while Moore will be making the trip to run the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters.

The men’s team field event specialists have steadily improved this season as well. Junior Godwin Mbagwu is the top threat in the horizontal jumps, as his 14.79m triple jump mark is sixth in the conference, along with his 6.98m long jump mark. Tom Gilbert (long jump) and Scott Kelley (triple jump) have also qualified for the BIG EAST meet.

The high jump boasts three Irish athletes in the top 10 of the conference list, with Chris Staron (2.00m) eighth, Ryan Mineburg (2.00m) ninth and Stephan Walchuk (1.98m) 10th.

New Irish throws coach B.J. Linnenbrink has made an immediate impact on his group so far this season. Chip Roberts launched a 16.45m weight throw against Ball State that currently ranks third in the conference. Teammate Brian Thornburg is not far behind in fifth with a 16.24m effort.

Over in the shot put, Juan Alba is the lone Irish qualifier with a 15.42m toss vs. Ball State.

The women’s throws group has been represented by one athlete this season. Freshman Megan Horn has quickly made her presence felt, qualifying for the BIG EAST meet in the shot put. She also has flashed the ability to make the conference meet in the weight throw.

Irish quick facts:

Senior All-American Luke Watson will be making the trip to the adidas Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 1, competing in either the mile or the 3,000 meters … junior distance specialist Megan Johnson has recovered from the injury that kept her out of the last part of the cross country season and has already qualified for the BIG EAST indoor meet in the 800 meters (2:14.56) … Emily Loomis, who pulled the rare feat of earning all-conference honors in two sports a year ago, is looking to repeat that feat again … the sophomore from Fort Wayne, Ind., who finished third in the indoor and outdoor high jump in 2002, is back with the team and has already qualified for the indoor meet … Loomis was the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player as a member of the Irish volleyball team earlier this season and earned first-team all-BIG EAST honors … both the men’s and women’s distance groups should be in top form over the next two weeks, looking to qualify more athletes for the NCAA Indoor Championship.