The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams continued competition in the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge, La., on Thursday evening. Among the highlights for the Irish included the first-ever women’s sprint relay team to qualify for a final NCAA championship race, freshman Lauren King’s first qualification for a national final track race, Ryan Shay’s second-place finish in the 10,000 meters and Tameisha King’s second career All-America measurement in the long jump.

Competing in the final race at the NCAA Championship assures each Irish athlete of All-America honors.

There were quite a few Irish athletes in action on Thursday, including senior Liz Grow competing in two events. Grow, who will go down in Irish track and field history as one of the most decorated 400-meter specialists, just missed out on the finals of the 400 in the championship meet. Her 52.50 effort in the second heat put her 10th in the field – just one spot out of the final race.

Grow rebounded to help the 4×400 relay team advance to the final race this weekend, helping the four Irish competitors become the first women’s sprint relay to appear in a NCAA Championship race. Grow combined with Kymia Love, Ayesha Boyd and Kristen Dodd (order of the relay was not available) to finish fourth in heat two (3:33.34). That time is just a touch faster than the team’s best effort of the season (which was the previous school record) and they finished ninth in the preliminary race. The four Irish sprinters will compete against UCLA, South Carolina, Texas, USC, Baylor, Tennessee, Miami and UNLV at 9:35 p.m. on Saturday (the last event of the championship meet).

Shay won the 10,000 meters last season and looked to repeat his win in the highly competitive field on Thursday. Standing in Shay’s way, however, was Eastern Michigan’s Boas Cheboiywo – the 2001 NCAA cross country individual champion. Cheboiywo controlled the entire race, finishing 30 seconds ahead of Shay in 28:32.10.

The most decorated Irish track and cross country athlete in school history, Shay is not done with his Irish career. He is set to run with teammate Luke Watson in the 5,000 meters on Saturday at 8:40 p.m.

Freshman distance runner Lauren King continued her outstanding freshman season on Thursday, advancing to the finals of the 1,500 meters with an impressive qualifying time. L. King broke her own school record, finishing her preliminary race in 4:17.01. That is the fourth-fastest qualifying time, as Christin Wurth (Arkansas), Shalane Flanagan (North Carolina) and Maurica Carlucci (Stanford) were the only other competitors able to post a faster time than L. King.

When L. King qualified for the outdoor championship meet, she became the first Notre Dame women’s track and field competitor to appear in three NCAA Championship events in her rookie season (cross country – where she finished as an All-American, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field). L. King’s championship race is set for 8:10 p.m. on Saturday.

T. King returned to the national outdoor meet in the long jump for the first time since the 2000 meet. The Irish junior from Mableton, Ga., earned All-America honors as a freshman – and repeated that effort again on Thursday.

T. King’s best measurement was 6.31 meters (20-8 ?), good enough for seventh place in the competition. She joins Jennifer Engelhardt (1999 and 2000) and Grow (2000 and 2001) as the only two-time female All-Americans in Notre Dame track and field.

T. King also competed in the 4×100 meter relay on Wednesday with Grow, Boyd and Dodd, finishing 10th – just one spot out of moving on to the finals.