Sept. 21, 1999
The Notre Dame men’s track and field squad has continued up both the BIG EAST and national ladders. In 1999, the Irish men earned runner-up finishes as a team in both the BIG EAST indoor and outdoor meets, while sending five members to the NCAA championships. This season, three of the team’s four 1999 All-Americans return, with the hopes of leading the Irish to their first BIG EAST team title.
Sprints with John Millar
Led by seniors Chris Cochran and Marshaun West, both 1999 BIG EAST champions, the Irish sprinters continue to elevate, despite their lack of overall depth. Cochran was the BIG EAST champion in the outdoor 400, while West, the 1999 BIG EAST Most Outstanding Track Performer, won the outdoor 200 meters.
“We have our nucleus of seniors coming back in Chris Cochran and Marshaun West, who are going to probably carry the brunt of the load in the sprints. They both have good range as Chris can run everything from the 60 meters to the 400. Marshaun also has the capabilities of doing the same things, in addition to competing in the long jump.
“Marshaun is a very talented individual who has shown that he has the ability to raise his level of competition when he has to. Last year, he finally realized how well he can do if he puts the time and work into it.
“We’re going to have a really good mile relay and probably the best group of four quarter-milers we’ve had since I’ve been here in Bobby Brown, Chris Cochran, Marshaun West and then Terry Wray.
“Terry Wray had a good freshman and then sophomore year, he sort of flattened out a bit. But he was here last summer working hard and I expect that he will really come through for us in the 400 and 500-meter races indoors and as a part of the mile relay.
“Some of the sophomores like Mike Mansour had a typical freshman year where he had some good meets and some performances that weren’t up to where he wanted to be. I think it was a transition year and now that he’s had that year, hopefully he can step in and help us.”
Hurdles with John Millar
Millar and the Irish are still working on a way to improve the Irish hurdle corps. With Eric Donnelly heading the list of returnees, Notre Dame will look for someone to step up immediately and contribute.
“We don’t have any front-runners in the hurdle events. We’ve brought in six freshman hurdlers, and hopefully a few will step up and show us that they can make an impact right away.
“Coming back from last year we have Eric Donnelly, a 400-meter hurdler. He’s had a year of experience and will be better prepared to lead that event group.
“Overall the men’s hurdles are going to be a big question. We have numbers that we didn’t have last year, but it’s finding the ones who can make the transition from high school to college with the different hurdle heights and the different level of competition. We’ll have to wait and see who steps forward and makes the adjustment the quickest.”
Middle Distance with Joe Piane
Just as last season, the Irish do not lose any of their top middle distance runners. Senior All-American Antonio Arce returns to run the mile for the Irish and Phil Mishka and Tim Kober as well as freshmen Doug Gunzelmann, Phil Slonkosky and Geof Rudziewicz headline a deep lineup for the Irish in the 800.
“Last season, Phil Mishka ran a personal-best 1:48.94 in the 800, while we had Tim Kober run a 1:51.27. We don’t really lose anyone out of the 800 group and we gain Doug Gunzelmann, the runner-up in the 800 at the National Scholastic indoor meet, and other guys like Phil Slonkosky and Geof Rudziewicz.
“Antonio Arce is back after becoming an All-American at his first NCAA track championships in the mile. I expect him to give us similar results in that event this season.”
Distance with Joe Piane
Bolstered by a solid team of talent, the Irish men’s distance runners, led by junior All-American Ryan Shay, will deliver the team consistent results. Shay’s counterpart on the cross country team, Luke Watson, will be more of a threat in the steeplechase following a year of experience running on the national and international levels.
“We’ve certainly have to look at Ryan Shay, an All-American in the 10,000 at the NCAAs, and Luke Watson’s time of 8:56 is a pretty good freshman steeplechase.
“Generally we’re going to be depending on most of the same guys who run cross country for us, like Ryan Shay, Luke Watson, Ryan Maxwell, Mike Griewe and Marc Striowksi. Plus, I think we have some good people coming in like Antonio Lopez and Kevin Avenius.”
Throws with Scott Winsor
Fielding one of the deepest groups of throwers in Winsor’s 12-year tenure, the Irish will have plenty of people to score in the field events at the BIG EAST meet. Despite the loss of captain Jay Hofner, Matt Thompson, the Notre Dame record-holder in the 35-pound weight throw, leads a group of core throwers returning.
“This is the best group of throwers, we have ever had at Notre Dame as far as depth.
“We have a great group of returners. Matt Thompson, who set the school record in the the weight throw, Niall Cannon, Derek Dyer, Matt Dewey and Paul Lewis are all coming back. Plus, we have Brian Thornburg coming in to throw the weight and the hammer.
“Jay Hofner is a big loss. Jay never made the NCAA meet, but he set personal bests every BIG EAST meet, indoors and outdoors. Jay’s leadership is something you don’t replace. I’m really looking this year to find somone to take over the leadership role.”
Jumps with Scott Winsor
Not including returning long jumper Marshaun West, an All-American in 1999, the Irish have a number of unproven veterans in the jumping events. Replacing five-time BIG EAST champion and All-American Mike Brown in the pole vault will also present a challenge for Winsor in 2000.
“The men’s high jump in the BIG EAST is one of the weaker events and I’ve talked to both of our guys, Andrew Cooper and Quill Redwine, about the opportunites to score for our team in that event.
“Andrew started to get a little more consistent last year and is getting stronger and stronger, which is his number one issue.
“Quill Redwine had hamstring problems all last year and he was having a hard time adjusting. A year under his belt is really going to help him, plus he was here all summer and trained really hard. I’ve told Quill that we need his presence in the jumps. He cannot be void in his events at the BIG EAST meet and he knows that.
“Marshaun West is back in the long jump. What else can you say about Marshaun after becoming an All-American last year? We did a lot of work on his approach and we did a lot of talking about relaxing. He learned how to relax when he’s on the runway, because once you relax on the runway, your stride pattern becomes much more consistent and you move faster. Those factors helped him.
“We lost Mike Brown, obviously, in the pole vault but we have three good guys coming back. A few of them struggled last year, but they’re going to become a lot more consistent this year. The leader hopefully will be Jesse Masloski, who I look to as far as leadership and work ethic.
“Nathan Cahill, our incoming freshman, has vaulted 16-0. Nathan is a good athlete and can run well, but he’s going to have to be open to possible change and it will be a learning process.
“We can’t replace Mike Brown, but with four of them, I think we can hopefully score as many if not more points in the pole vault as we did last year.”