March 9, 2004
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams will send seven competitors to this weekend’s NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13. Junior BIG EAST Champion Selim Nurudeen (60-meter hurdles) will represent the men’s team, along with sophomore Stacey Cowan (high jump), senior Kristen Dodd (distance medley relay), sophomore BIG EAST Champion Molly Huddle (3,0000 and 5,0000 meters), senior Megan Johnson (DMR), junior BIG EAST Champion Lauren King (mile and DMR) and junior Kerry Meagher (mile).
The meet will be held at the Randal Tyson Track and Field Complex in Fayetteville and is being hosted by the University of Arkansas. Of the seven Irish competitors making the trip, three will be making their first appearances at an NCAA Championship track and field meet (Selim Nurudeen, Megan Johnson, Kerry Meagher).
Among the Irish accepted entries, Molly Huddle leads the way and is poised to earn double All-America honors in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. The 5,000 meters shows up first on the meet schedule, set for 7:50 p.m. on Friday evening. Huddle enters the race with the second fastest time in the nation this year (15:55.68), behind Providence’s Kim Smith (15:18.54). Huddle is coming off a BIG EAST Championship effort in the 5,000 meters on Feb. 21, winning the event in a Carrier Dome record 15:57.22.
Huddle also will be making her second consecutive trip to the NCAA indoor meet to compete in the 3,000 meters. She finished ninth a year ago to earn All-America honors and enters this weekend’s meet with the fifth-best time in the nation (9:08.54). She will be going up against Kim Smith again, who owns the nation’s best 3,000-meter time at 8:55.08 and won the BIG EAST Championship in the event – where Huddle finished third to earn all-conference honors.
Huddle is the current U.S. Junior Champion in the 3,000 meters, as she ran away from the pack to set a meet record of 9:19.52 in the outdoor event last summer. Huddle also boasts an NCAA Mideast Regional 5,000-meter title from 2003 and finished fifth in the 5,000 meters at the ’03 NCAA national meet.
The men’s team will be represented by junior Selim Nurudeen, who breaks through for his first appearance at an NCAA Championship meet after coming close during the 2003 indoor and outdoor season. Nurudeen has bested the school record in the 60-meter hurdles three times this season, eventually running 7.75 at last week’s Alex Wilson Invitational. He becomes the first Irish hurdler to appear at the NCAA indoor meet since Errol Williams (55-meter hurdles) made the trip and finished eighth in 1998. Nurudeen’s 7.75 effort is currently ranked sixth in the nation. Mississippi’s Antwon Hicks has the top national time at 7.66.
The 60-meter hurdles begin with the preliminaries at 5:20 p.m. Friday, while the finals following the samem day at 8:20 p.m.
Nurudeen has three BIG EAST hurdle titles on his resume (110-meter outdoor in 2002 and 2003 and the recent 2004 indoor 60-meter) and finished seventh at the NCAA Mideast Regional competition in 2003 – just missing out on a trip to the national outdoor meet.
Junior Lauren King will be making her third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship in the mile competition. As a freshman, King qualified for the national meet at the Alex Wilson Invitational, running 4:44.60 to set the school record (which she would then reset several more times in her career) and missed out on the finals at the NCAA indoor meet by .07 seconds.
She returned in 2003 by running a personal-best and school record 4:38.37 at the Alex Wilson and won the BIG EAST Championship in the mile as well. She ended up fourth in the prelims of the mile in the NCAA meet last year and eventually took seventh to earn All-America honors.
The first women’s three-time cross country All-American in school history, King is ranked ninth in the mile heading into this weekend’s meet, behind Tiffany McWilliams of Mississippi State in first (4:35.91). King will also compete on the women’s distance medley relay team.
King will not be alone in the mile competition, as junior Kerry Meagher grabbed the final spot in the field with a 4:43.47 effort at last week’s Alex Wilson Invitational. Meagher, who played a key role in Notre Dame’s BIG EAST cross country championship, has stepped up from her former specialty, the 800 meters, to qualify for the national meet in the mile. She will make her first NCAA track and field championship appearance at 6:45 p.m. on Friday with the preliminaries of the mile, with the finals set for 6:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Sophomore Stacey Cowan will be the lone field event representative for the Irish this weekend, as the Ferndale, Wa., native makes her second-consecutive trip to an NCAA Championship. Cowan qualified for the NCAA outdoor meet in 2003 at the regional meet and eventually took 14th at the national meet by clearing 1.75m. In 2004, Cowan has improved her personal best high jump clearance to 1.82m, which is ranked 13th in the field heading into this weekend’s competition. Georgia Tech’s Chaunte Howard leads the nation with a 1.90m jump, which was posted during the Meyo Invitational on Notre Dame’s campus (Feb. 6). The women’s high jump competition is set for 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Kristen Dodd and Megan Johnson, along with King and Meagher, will make up Notre Dame’s women’s distance medley relay team this weekend. Johnson steps into Huddle’s spot on the team, which is ranked fourth in the nation entering the competition (11:07.94). Tennessee’s 11:03.42 is currently ranked first in the field. Dodd is experienced in national-meet competition, as the Toledo, Ohio, native earned All-America honors on the 4×400 relay team in 2002 and helped the 4×400 group finish ninth in the event at last season’s indoor meet.
Johnson is making her first appearance at an NCAA Championship track and field event, but is no stranger to DMR success. She helped the Irish claim the BIG EAST Championship in the DMR in meet record time at the league meet in 2002.
Full recap and results of Notre Dame’s performance this weekend will be posted as soon as possible on www.und.com.
Schedule of events for Notre Dame competitors (tentative):
Friday, March 12
5:20 p.m. – Nurudeen in the 60-meter hurdle preliminaries
6:45 p.m. – King and Meagher in the women’s mile preliminaries
7:50 p.m. – Huddle in the 5,000 meters
8:20 p.m. – Men’s 60-meter hurdle finals
9:10 p.m. – Women’s DMR
Saturday, March 13
4:45 p.m. – Cowan in the women’s high jump
6:05 p.m. – Women’s mile finals
7:25 p.m. – Huddle in the 3,000 meters