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Three Irish Athletes Qualify For Finals At NCAA Outdoor Track Championships

June 12, 2003

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track & field teams acquitted themselves well on the first day of competition at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships late Wednesday night at the A.G. Spanos Sports Complex on the campus of California State University, Sacramento. Of the four individuals competing in preliminary heats, three advanced to the finals in their respective events, putting them in position to earn All-America honors. Meanwhile, the lone Irish relay team in action (the women’s 4×100-meter squad) narrowly missed both a school record and qualification for the finals.

Senior Luke Watson (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater H.S.) turned in one of the top performances of the night for Notre Dame, winning the second preliminary heat of the men’s 5,000-meter run in a time of 14:00.85. That mark was good for fourth overall among the 16 runners who qualified for the finals, which will take place Saturday at 9 p.m. (PDT). Watson will be gunning for his eighth career All-America citation and his second at the NCAA outdoor meet.

In the women’s 5,000-meter preliminaries, freshman Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame H.S.) easily advanced to the finals with a second-place finish in her heat (16:18.21). She placed third overall in the 16-runner field, less than one second behind the top qualifier, Sara Gorton of Colorado. Senior Jennifer Handley (Barrie, Ont./Barrie Central H.S.) placed 11th in her heat (22nd overall) in a time of 16:55.69 and did not move on to the final. The women’s 5,000-meter championship will be contested Saturday at 8:40 p.m. (PDT).

Senior Tameisha King (Mableton, Ga./Pebblebrook H.S.) was the third Irish athlete to advance, placing second in her flight of the long jump with a leap of 20-9.75 (6.34m), her best ever at the NCAA outdoor meet. King, who garnered All-America citations in 2000 and 2002, was third overall among the 12 jumpers who qualified for the final, which will be held Friday at 6:55 p.m. (PDT).

King also ran the leadoff leg for Notre Dame’s 4×100-meter relay team, which placed third in its heat in a time of 44.32 seconds, just two-hundredths of a second off the school record. However, it was only good for the 10th-best time in the field and left the Irish 0.28 seconds away from qualifying for the final.

The second day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships begins Thursday afternoon for Notre Dame with freshman Stacey Cowan (Ferndale, Wash./Ferndale H.S.) participating in the women’s high jump preliminaries at 4 p.m. (PDT). Sophomore Lauren King (Toronto, Ont./Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute) then will take the track at 7 p.m. (PDT) for her preliminary heat in the 1,500-meter run. The Irish women’s 4×400-relay team, which earned All-America honors last year, closes out the day for Notre Dame, competing in its preliminary race at 8 p.m. (PDT).

— ND —

2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships — Day 1
Men’s 5,000 meters – Preliminary

4th – Luke Watson (ND), 14:00.85 (qualified for finals)
Women’s 5,000 meters – Preliminary
3rd – Molly Huddle (ND), 16:18.21 (qualified for finals)
22nd – Jennifer Handley (ND), 16:55.69
Women’s Long Jump – Preliminary
3rd – Tameisha King (ND), 6.34m (20-9.75) (qualified for finals)
Women’s 4×100-meter relay – Preliminary
10th – Notre Dame, 44.32