Jan. 30, 2004
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams continued their push toward the BIG EAST Championship and next week’s Meyo Invitational with a solid effort at Friday night’s Notre Dame Invitational. Butler, DePaul, Marquette and Michigan State, along with the Irish, took part in the meet at the Loftus Sports Center on campus.
The women’s mile provided one of the highlights on the evening, as junior All-American Lauren King hit the track for the first time this season. The BIG EAST champion a year ago in the event, King cruised to victory in 4:45.61 to post the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season (as of Jan. 30). Senior Megan Johnson finished fifth in 4:54.38 and sophomore Elizabeth Webster finished ninth in 5:04.84 to meet the qualification for the conference meet.
Sophomore Molly Huddle, the 2003 U.S. Junior Champion in the 3,000 meters, looked solid in her indoor debut for that event. Huddle cruised to victory in 9:14.13, breaking her own school record and posting the second-best effort in the NCAA as of Jan. 30. That effort qualifies her automatically for the NCAA Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 12.
Senior Juan Alba continued his steady performance in the weight throw, improving his season-best and personal-best mark for the third consecutive weekend. Alba won the weight throw with a toss of 17.75m (58-3), while teammate Chip Roberts took fourth with a 16.18m (53-1) measurement. Also in the weight throw on the women’s side, sophomore Meghan Horn came close to a BIG EAST qualification, finishing second with a toss of 13.41m (44-0). The women’s BIG EAST qualification is 13.74m. Horn did come through in the shot put, however, posting a 12.72m effort (41-8 _) to qualify for the conference meet. Alba completed the meet by qualifying for the BIG EAST meet in the shot put as well with a 15.60m toss.
In the men’s 500 meters, freshman Jordan Powell qualified for the BIG EAST Championship in the event by placing first in 1:04.49. Powell joins teammates Trevor McClain-Duer and Napolean Suarez as conference qualifiers in the 500 for the conference meet.
The women’s 500 meters was dominated by senior team captain Tiffany Gunn. Looking for an all-BIG EAST performance later this season, Gunn ran away with a season-best effort of 1:13.37. Teammate and freshman Okechi Ogbuokiri finished second in 1:16.61.
On the short track, senior Ayesha Boyd won the 60 meters in 7.69, followed by Kristen Dodd in third (7.73), Tanya Cheatham in fourth (7.80) and Latasha Steele in fifth (7.91). The men’s 60 gave Notre Dame its first two BIG EAST qualifiers in the event. Junior Selim Nurudeen won in 6.93 and has now qualified for the conference meet in three events (200 meters, 60 meters and 60-meter hurdles).
Close behind Nurudeen was junior Dwight Ellick. A stand out on the Irish football team, Ellick was an all-BIG EAST track performer as a freshman but missed the ’03 season due to an injury. Back on the scene in ’04, Ellick qualified for the BIG EAST meet by finishing second in 6.94. Freshman Tommie Lee continued to shave time off his season best in the 60, finishing fifth in 7.04 (BIG EAST qualifying time is 7.02). In addition to Ellick, football players Isaiah Gardner (7.04) and Ambrose Wooden (7.07) flashed the ability to post a conference qualifying performance. In the 400 meters, both the men and women took home victories on the evening. Junior Trevor McClain-Duer placed first for the men in 48.00, joining teammate Ryan Postel with two of the top times in the BIG EAST so far this season. For the women, Ayesha Boyd took home her second victory of the evening in 55.79 – a season best for her and team best for the Irish.
Moving up to the 800 meters, two more Irish runners posted solid efforts. Junior Kerry Meagher finished second in her race, posting a team-best 2:13.03 effort. Freshman Brianne Schmidt also qualified for the BIG EAST by .01, finishing in 2:17.03. On the men’s side, senior Kevin Somok won the 800 meters in 1:53.63.
Other top performances for the Irish on Friday night:
– Freshman Cassie Gullickson won the women’s triple jump with a personal-best leap of 11.79 (38-8 1/2). She also finished fourth in the high jump with a 1.64m clearance (5-4 1/4) for another personal best.
– Freshman Christopher Jacques claimed his first collegiate individual victory in the long jump, leaping 6.59m (21-7 1/2).
– Sophomore Vinnie Ambrico improved his season-best time in the mile, finishing fourth in 4:13.67. That is the fourth-best time on the team so far this season.
– Senior Jill VanWeelden finished second in the pole vault by clearing 3.35m (10-11 1/2). Sophomore Dee Dee Bryant improved her season best in the pole vault, clearing 3.20m (10-6) to finish third.
– Freshman Justin Oppel claimed his first collegiate individual victory in the pole vault, clearing 4.65m (15-3) for the second-straight weekend.
– Senior Kristen Dodd shaved a few ticks off her season-best effort in the 200 meters, finishing first in 24.42. Tiffany Gunn also qualified for the BIG EAST meet by finishing third in 24.79.
– Sophomore Kaleb Van Ort and senior Todd Mobley both qualified for the BIG EAST meet in the 3,000 meters. Van Ort finished second in 8:24.47 with Mobley in third at 8:27.33.