April 14, 2002
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up competition in the Tom Botts Invitational on the campus of the University of Missouri on Saturday evening (April 13). The Irish men claimed the team title with 213.50 points, while the women finished second behind the host team with 184.50 points.
The women’s team was led by its traditional contingent of strong performers. Sophomore Ayesha Boyd continued her stellar second year with two victories, placing first in the 100 and 200 meters. Boyd’s 11.73 100 meter time is a new personal best for the Spartanburg, SC, native.
Fellow sprinter Liz Grow strengthened her push for a spot in the 400 meter field at the NCAA meet, improving her season best time to 53.14 en route to winning the event. Kymia Love took second place in the 400 meters with a personal season-best time of 54.64.
Freshman cross country All-American Lauren King ran the 800 meters for the first time of the outdoor season and earned a victory, finishing in 2:10.22 and out-kicking Lenka Kalabova of Iowa State at the finish line.
The women’s distance group flashed its talented depth at the meet, placing 10 runners in the top 10 of the 1500 and 5000 meters. Megan Johnson led the 1500 meter contingent, taking second in 4:26.24. Jennifer Fibuch ended up second in the 5000 meters with a 17:37.60 time.
Freshman hurdler Tiffany Gunn won an individual event title, with a 1:02.59 effort in the 400-meter hurdles. Christi Arnerich also improved her steeplechase time this season, finishing third in 11:28.71.
The women’s field event specialists added two wins at invitational. Tameisha King won the long jump event with a 6.03m leap and would add a victory in the 100-meter hurdles (14.21) later in the meet. Jill VanWeelden rounded out the Irish field event wins in the pole vault competition, clearing 3.55m.
The Notre Dame men’s team performed well across the board, winning eight of the 11 running events and finishing second in the other three. Tom Gilbert started the sprint group out on the right foot, finishing first (11.20) in the 100 meters ahead of teammate Ryan Hurd. Hurd came back to win the 200 meters later in the day, with a personal season-best time of 21.78. Mike Mansour (second) and Jules Vandersarl (fourth) joined Hurd in the top five of the 200 meters.
Freshman Trevor McClain-Duer kept the Irish sprint group win streak alive in the 400 meters, just edging Missouri’s Jason Jones in 48.89. The relays teams were equally successful in the meet, winning both the 4×100 and 4×400 events.
The hurdles group posted two strong finishes as well. Freshman Selim Nurudeen improved his 110-meter hurdle time for the season in a first-place effort (14.44), while sophomore Napolean Suarez finished just ahead of him in second place of the 400-meter hurdles (53.57).
Moving up the distance of the races did not have an appreciable effect on the Irish men’s team success. Senior Pat Conway improved his season-best time in the 1500 meters, taking first place in 3:50.78. Classmate Luke Watson, who has already qualified for the NCAA Championship meet in the 5,000 meters, might make an appearance at the national meet in the steeplechase. He toasted the field on Saturday, taking first in 8:50.68, which is an NCAA consideration time. Watson also helped teammate David Alber post his best time of the year in the steeplechase, finishing second in 9:01.70.
The Irish did not post any individual victories in the field events, but the team’s depth is what helped carry them to the team title. Among the Notre Dame field event specialists who improved their personal season-best marks were Quill Redwine, Chris Staron and Ryan Mineburg in the high jump, Josh Heck in the pole vault, Godwin Mbagwu in the triple jump, Derek Dyer and Juan Alba in the discus and Alba and Chip Roberts in the hammer.
Heck’s pole vault clearance of 4.73m earned him second place, while Dyer’s discus toss (50.49m) placed him third in the competition.
The Tom Botts Invitational served as a perfect warm up for next weekend, as the Irish are scheduled to take on the best in the country at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. The team also will send a group of competitors to the Indy Invitational in Indianapolis, Ind., on April 20.