Junior Molly Seidel won the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the first women's track title in Notre Dame history.

Seidel Wins First Women's Track Title In Notre Dame History

June 12, 2015

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NCAA Outdoor Championships Event Central

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Women’s Qualifier List
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EUGENE, Ore. — A 50-meter deficit hardly fazed University of Notre Dame distance standout Molly Seidel.

The Irish junior, among the top five in the pack throughout the course of Thursday’s 10,000 meter title race at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, saw defending champion Emma Bates of Boise State kick into high gear at the 1,600-meter mark, breaking away from the pack that had stayed largely close-knit throughout the run’s first five miles.

But Seidel had a plan. In developing a pre-race strategy with head coach Alan Turner and associate head coach Matt Sparks, Seidel knew which of her opponents to key on, and she steadily worked her way into second place. And as Bates faded in the final 800 meters, Seidel chose the optimum time to put on a kick of her own, breaking off by herself with two-and-a-half laps to go to take her own lead that no other competitor could match, capturing the first NCAA individual championship in Irish women’s track & field history.

“I can’t even describe what that means knowing that [it’s the first national championship in school history],” Seidel said. “It’s such an incredible honor. You hear of [10-time cross country and track All-American] Molly Huddle [’07], and she’s one of my biggest heroes and you look up to those people so much [who came before]. I really still can’t quite believe it. Hopefully this can help inspire other runners who are coming up through to help take us to that national caliber level that we’re looking for.”

Seidel, who came into the race with the nation’s top qualifying time, outpaced second-place Dominique Scott of Arkansas by over seven seconds (33:18.37) to take the crown, also a full 20 seconds ahead of her qualifying time. Bates finished in 10th place.

It wasn’t lost on Seidel the location in which she accomplished her victory, at one of the most hallowed venues in American distance running. Christened by the likes of Steve Prefontaine and legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, Hayward Field caused Seidel a few moments pause when she first arrived.

Indeed, as she rounded the final curve — known as the Bowerman Curve — it was squarely at the front of her mind.

“Stepping out on that track for the first time when you grow up reading about it, I just needed to stop and think for a sec about where I was,” Seidel said. “On the final curve, that thought actually went through my head, ‘You’re on the Bowerman Curve; it’s time to give everything you have left.’ To be able to win the national championship here just means so much.”

The gold-medal winning performance capped a banner year for the junior, who added to her first-team All-America collection in cross country and the indoor 5,000 meters. She is the first Irish distance runner since Huddle to collect a cross country and two track All-America scrolls in a school year. Huddle, who currently owns the American record in the 5,000 meters, did so in 2003.

Seidel was also a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion (indoor 3,000 meters, indoor 5,000 meters, outdoor 5,000 meters), as well as the runner up in the 10,000 at this year’s conference meet.

“I’m just so ecstatic and happy for her,” Turner said. “She’s been incredible this whole year. … It’s hard to put into words because we know the great things that Molly Huddle is doing as the top American in the 5,000 meters and what she accomplished as a collegiate. It just elevates our whole entire program. We’ve had those All-Americans and we’re getting to the point where we’re getting those in all different areas. It gives us name recognition and elevates the whole program. Don’t be surprised when we have more national champions and have them finishing in the top two or three in the country [in distance events] with this next class coming in.”

“The big difference between Molly in cross country and Molly in indoor and Molly in outdoor is that the earlier thought process was just, `Go see what you can do,'” Sparks added. “This time we had a more concrete plan of what she needed to do to be successful. It seemed like it panned out. It’s only her third 10K ever and to go from squeaking out second place at the conference to four weeks later being the national champion is just a tribute to her.”

Senior Jade Barber scored something of an upset in advancing to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles, overtaking the favored Cindy Ofili of Michigan to win the second heat and take second overall. Her 12.70-second effort smashed her own school record by 0.11 seconds and assured Barber a first-team All-America nod.

“Jade knew that as far as putting on a Notre Dame uniform, we’ve talked about it all year, about her being an NCAA champion, but the first step was getting into the final,” Turner said. “I thought she’d run 12.90, 12.92, but right before she stepped on the track, she said “I want this so bad,” and she proved it to everybody. She’s going to have to duplicate that effort on Saturday.”

Junior Margaret Bamgbose also punched her ticket to Saturday’s finals in the 400 meters, automatically qualifying with a second-place finish in Heat 1 in 51.74 seconds. She will also take home first-team All-America recognition.

The Irish women’s 4×400-meter team finished 12th overall in the semifinal to finish the season with second-team All-America honors. With Barber running for an injured Parker English, along with Amber Lalla, Jordan Shead and Bamgbose, the Irish finished fourth in their heat with a time of 3:35.62.

The performance gave Barber her ninth career All-America scroll for the most in Notre Dame history. Bamgbose’s two citations gave her eight in her three years in blue and gold.

Finally, senior Emily Morris wrapped up her career with an honorable mention All-America nod in the shot put, finishing 21st with a toss of 15.26 meters.

After one day of competition, the Irish women are in a five-way tie for seventh place in the team standings with 10 points.

The Irish men will wrap their stay at the NCAA Championships on Friday as junior Michael Clevenger races in the 5,000 meters championship. That race will begin at 9:30 p.m. EDT and be broadcast on ESPN.

To keep up with all things Irish track & field, follow @NDXCTF on Twitter and like Notre Dame Cross Country/Track & Field on Facebook.

NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Eugene, Oregon
Schedule of Events
All Times EDT
400 meters – semifinal (top two from each of three heats, plus next two best advance)

10. Chris Giesting, 46.03 (fourth, Heat 3)^^
4×400-meter relay – semifinal (top two from each of three heats, plus next two best advance)
22. Notre Dame (eighth, Heat 1), 3:10.53^^^
Eric Ways, Harvey Smith, Alex Groesch, Chris Giesting
Pole Vault – Championship
T-14. Nathan Richartz, 5.15m^^
100-meter hurdles – semifinal (top two from each of three heats, plus next two best advance)
2. Jade Barber
, 12.70w* Q (first, Heat 2)
400 meters – semifinal (top two from each of three heats, plus next two best advance)
4. Margaret Bamgbose, 51.74 (second, Heat 1)
10,000 meters championship

1. Molly Seidel, 33:18.37#^
4×400-meter relay semifinal (top two from each of three heats, plus next two best advance)
12. Notre Dame, 3:35.62 (fourth, Heat 1)
Amber Lalla, Jade Barber, Jordan Shead, Margaret Bamgbose
Shot Put championship
21. Emily Morris, 15.26m^^^
FRIDAY — ESPN 7:30 p.m.
9:30 p.m. — Men’s 5,000 meters final
Michael Clevenger

5:45 p.m. — Women’s 100-meter hurdles final
Jade Barber
6:05 p.m. — Women’s 400 meters final

Margaret Bamgbose

# – NCAA Champion
* – Notre Dame Record
^ – First Team All-American
^^ – Second Team All-American
^^^ – Honorable Mention All-American

Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant