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Track And Field Faces BIG EAST Outdoor Championship Challenge This Weekend

April 29, 2004

The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams will head to Piscataway, N.J., this weekend for the 2004 BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championship. A total of 62 athletes have qualified for the championship this season from Notre Dame, as the men look to defend their 2003 title. The Irish women should be in contention as well after finishing no worse than third in their last five trips to the BIG EAST outdoor meet.

The Notre Dame men won the ’03 league outdoor title in dramatic fashion at Connecticut, with then-junior Godwin Mbagwu winning the triple jump championship on his last jump – securing the team title in the process. Mbagwu will be back this year and boasts the top outdoor triple jump measurement in the league (15.65m).

Notre Dame in the BIG EAST outdoor meet:

Here is a look at both team’s finishes in the BIG EAST outdoor championship:


2003: 1st, 139 points

2002: 3rd, 99 points

2001: 6th, 63 points

2000: 1st, 164 points

1999: 2nd, 136 points

1998: 3rd, 94 points

1997: 2nd, 137 points

1996: 3rd, 77 points


2003: 2nd, 126 points

2002: 2nd, 110 points

2001: 3rd, 83 points

2000: 3rd, 93 points

1999: 3rd, 103.5 points

1998: 12th, 33.5 points

1997: 6th, 58.5 points

1996: 13th, 23.5 points

Here is a look at Notre Dame’s individual BIG EAST champions at the outdoor meet:



Selim Nurudeen, 110-meter hurdles

Luke Watson, 3,000-meter steeplechase

Luke Watson, 5,000 meters

Godwin Mbagwu, triple jump


Selim Nurudeen, 110-meter hurdles

Luke Watson, 3,000 meters

Luke Watson, 5,000 meters

Ryan Shay, 10,000 meters


Ryan Shay, 10,000 meters


Luke Watson, 3,000-meter steeplechase

Ryan Shay, 5,000 meters

Ryan Shay, 10,000 meters

4×100 Relay (Travis Davey, Chris Cochran, Tom Gilbert, Marshaun West)


Marshaun West, 200 meters

Chris Cochran, 400 meters

Mike Brown, pole vault


Errol Williams, 400 meters

Jason Rexing, 5,000 meters


Derek Seiling, 3,000-meter steeplechase

Jason Rexing, 10,000 meters

Mike Brown, pole vault


Jason Rexing, 5,000 meters

Jason Rexing, 10,000 meters

Dave Gerrity, pole vault

Lamarr Justice, triple jump



Molly Huddle, 5,000 meters


Molly Huddle won the 5,000 meters at last season’s outdoor meet as a freshman.



Emily Loomis, high jump

Tameisha King, long jump


Liz Grow, 400 meters

4×100 Relay


Liz Grow, 400 meters

4×100 Relay


Jennifer Engelhardt, high jump

Jamie Volkmer, pole vault


Alison Klemmer, 10,000 meters

Jennifer Engelhardt, high jump


Jennifer Engelhardt, high jump


Alison Howard, 400 meters

Selim Nurudeen has a chance to join Jennnifer Engelhardt and Ryan Shay as the only Notre Dame athletes to win three consecutive BIG EAST outdoor titles in the same event. He will enter the meet this weekend with the league’s best time in the 110-meter hurdles (13.92).

Major awardwinners

The BIG EAST Conference hands out three major awards on both the men’s and women’s sides at the outdoor meet. A coaching staff of the year, most outstanding track athlete and most outstanding field athlete trophy. Here are the awardwinnners over the years from Notre Dame:

2003 – Men’s Outdoor Coaching Staff of the Year

2002 – Luke Watson, Outstanding Track Performer

2002 – Liz Grow, Outstanding Female Track Performer

2000 – Men’s Outstanding Coaching Staff of the Year

1999 – Marshaun West, Outstanding Track Performer

1999 – Men’s Outstanding Coaching Staff of the Year

1996 – Jason Rexing, Outstanding Track Performer

2004 Championship Preview:

Here is an event-by-event preview for both the men’s and women’s team entering this weekend’s championship, by order of event:

Women’s heptathlon: Begins Friday at 12 noon.

Sophomore Stacey Cowan carries the torch for the Irish in the women’s heptathlon. She is ranked 10th entering the meet (with 4,287 points at the Tom Botts Invitational), but has shown the ability to be successful at the conference level. She finished third to earn all-BIG EAST honors as a freshman a year ago, setting the school record with 4,675 points. Cowan also is the top high jumper for the women’s team and has appeared at the last two NCAA Championships (’03 outdoor, ’04 indoor) in the high jump.

Women’s Javelin: Trials and Final: Saturday, 12 noon

School-record holder junior Kate Duman is fifth in the conference with a season-best 43.07m toss at the Tom Botts Invitational. That mark qualifies her for the NCAA Regional meet as well – where she ranks 15th on the descending order list.

Duman finished sixth in the javelin at last season’s outdoor meet. Sophomore Laura Huarte has also qualified in the javelin, but with the women’s pole vault beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, she might not be able to compete in both events.

Men’s Shot Put: Trials and Final: Saturday, 12 noon

All-BIG EAST performer Juan Alba enters his final meet for the Irish with the 10th-best mark in the league (15.60m). Alba has qualified for three throwing implements at this year’s outdoor meet (shot put, hammer, discus), but is the lone team representative in the shot put. An Irish thrower has not earned all-conference honors in the shot put since 2000.

Women’s 100 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:15 p.m.

The women’s 100 meters is a testament to the sustained improvement of the Irish women’s sprint group. Notre Dame will be represented by six competitors in the 100 meters (should all the qualifiers choose to run in the meet) – the most from any BIG EAST school. Freshman Maryann Erigha is the top qualifier for the Irish, running 12.03 at last weekend’s Big Ten Preview meet at Purdue. It was the first outdoor competition of the season for Erigha, who is ranked ninth in the league with that effort.

Senior Ayesha Boyd, 10th on the performance list at 12.07, has steadily improved her time during the outdoor season. Boyd finished third in the 100 meters at the outdoor meet in 2001 and 2002.


Ayesha Boyd has qualified for the BIG EAST outdoor meet in the 100 and 200 meters.



Senior Kristen Dodd is also qualified in the 100 meters and is rated 18th on the performance list (12.14). Erigha will join teammate Latasha Steele in making their first appearance at the BIG EAST outdoor meet. Steele qualified with a 12.25 time at the ND Spring Opener. Juniors Tanya Cheatham (12.30) and Tricia Floyd (12.24) have also met the qualifying standard.

Women’s Shot Put: Trials and Final: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Sophomore Megan Horn finished fifth in the shot put at her first outdoor meet last season and enters this weekend’s meet 12th on the conference list (13.69m). Horn has qualified in three throwing implements (shot put, hammer, discus) and has the ability to score points toward the team total in each event.

Men’s 100 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 1:45 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:20 p.m.

Sophomore Ryan Postel will be the top threat in the 100 meters for the men’s team, entering the championship with the second-best time in the league (10.57) – behind Miami’s Terrell Walden (10.43). Postel will be running the 100 meters at the BIG EAST meet for the first time.

Freshman Tommie Lee (10.77) also has qualified for the competition, along with senior Ryan Hurd (11.05).

Men’s 110-meter hurdles: Prelims: Saturday, 2:20 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 11:55 a.m.

Junior Selim Nurudeen looks to go three-for-three in the 110-meter hurdles after having captured the league titles in 2002 and ’03. Nurudeen’s time has steadily improved over the years, winning in 14.31 in ’02 and 13.95 in ’03. So far in 2004, Nurudeen has posted a season-best time of 13.92, which is the fastest in the BIG EAST and ninth-best on the NCAA Mideast Regional descending order list.

Nurudeen is looking to join Jennifer Engelhardt and Ryan Shay as the only Irish athletes to win three consecutive conference outdoor titles in the same event. He will also be looking for his fourth conference title overall after winning the 60-meter hurdles at this year’s indoor meet.

Nurudeen will not be alone in the competition this weekend. Senior Mark Barber will be a threat for all-conference honors with the sixth-best time in the league (14.88) – Barber finished sixth a year ago in the event – and freshman Geoffrey Bennett is eighth on the best times list (14.90). Bennett earned all-BIG EAST honors at the ’04 indoor meet in the 60-meter hurdles.

Men’s Long Jump: Trials and Final: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Senior Godwin Mbagwu – who will forever be remembered for delivering last year’s BIG EAST team title by winning the triple jump on his final attempt – will be looking to do something no Irish horizontal jumper has ever done at a single BIG EAST meet – earn all-conference honors in both the triple jump and long jump.

Mbagwu’s 7.04m effort from the BIG EAST indoor meet is fifth on the conference list and puts him in the running for all-conference accolades (his triple jump measurement is ranked first entering this weekend).

Freshman Christopher Jacques also will be in the competition, as his 6.84m effort from the Alex Wilson Invitational is ranked 12th on the league list.

Women’s 200 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 2:35 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Miami is set to dominate the 200 meters this weekend, with three runners among the top four in the conference. Maryann Erigha nabbed a qualification mark last weekend, running 24.29 at the Big Ten Preview. She is rated eighth on the conference best times list, just ahead of teammate Kristen Dodd in 12th (24.37). Dodd finished 11th in the prelims of the 200 meters last season and will be looking to make the final race, along with the rookie Erigha.

Men’s 200 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 2:50 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

This event could be a strength for the Irish men’s team, although there will be pressure on several individuals to step up to the competition. Notre Dame boasts four qualifiers, but they are all ranked ninth – 20th on the top times list.

The ‘X Factor’ for the Irish could be junior Dwight Ellick. Ellick earned all-BIG EAST honors at the indoor meet this season, finishing third in 21.70. A starting cornerback for the Irish football team, Ellick will be running his first outdoor competition of the season after having finished spring football workouts just last weekend, but has the raw track speed capable of scoring major points for Notre Dame in this event.

Ryan Postel, who is also qualified in the 100 and 400 meters, might sit the 200 meters out this weekend. Senior Ryan Hurd ran a solid 21.76 at the Indy Relays and might move up to score points in the top eight for Notre Dame. Selim Nurudeen, the top contender in the 110-meter hurdles, is also qualified in the 200 meters and could run the event – he helped the men’s 4×400 team earn all-BIG EAST honors at the indoor meet this season.

Women’s 1,500 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 3:00 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

Possibly the most competitive event for the women’s team this weekend, the 1,500 meters is basically the outdoor version of the mile run. Notre Dame’s top threats in the 1,500 meters have spent much of their outdoor season running other events, but All-American miler Kerry Meagher (4:18.97) and Lauren King (4:19.36) will be among the race leaders this weekend. Sophomore Molly Huddle might also enter the race, although she is one of the favorites in the 5,000 meters.

The Irish competitors will have to step up their efforts, however, as Providence’s Kim Smith enters the meet at the prohibitive favorite (4:08.91).

Women’s Pole Vault: Trials and Final: Saturday, 3:00 p.m.

The women’s pole vault group has always been a strength for the team since ’03 graduate Jaime Volkmer arrived on campus five years ago. Volkmer (the ’00 outdoor champion) has graduated, but sophomore Laura Huarte looks ready to assume the role as the lead vaulter for the Irish. Huarte cleared 3.75m last weekend at Purdue, qualifying for both the BIG EAST Championship and the NCAA Regional (she is 12th on the regional descending order list).

Huarte is third on the conference list, followed by teammate and senior Jill VanWeelden (3.66m) and sophomore Dee Dee Bryant (3.50m). All three Irish vaulters will be looking to extend a streak of five years with an Irish women’s pole vaulter earning all-BIG EAST honors (Bethany Wilson in 1999, Volkmer in 2000-03).

Men’s Discus: Trials and Final: Saturday, 3:00 p.m.

Senior Juan Alba broke through for his first all-BIG EAST honor in the discus throw at last year’s outdoor meet. He followed up by finishing second in the weight throw at the 2004 indoor championship.

Alba will be among the contenders for all-BIG EAST honors again in the discus, as his 49.71m effort from the Purdue Invitational is fourth in the league. He will be joined in the competition by freshman Garet Koxlien (ninth, 46.82) and junior Chip Roberts (10th, 46.12) – giving Notre Dame three strong candidates to finish in the top eight and score points toward the team total.

Men’s 1,500 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 3:15 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 11:35 a.m.

Notre Dame will have a strong group of runners in the 1,500-meter field, with junior Eric Morrsion leading the way (3:44.40, ranked second in the conference). Freshman Kurt Benninger will also be among the contenders (3:45.21, fifth) as well as senior Kevin Somok (3:46.22, eighth). Morrison earned all-BIG EAST honors in the 1,500 meters last season, finishing third in 3:50.65.

Women’s 400 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:05 p.m.

Notre Dame has a strong reputation in the 400 meters at the BIG EAST Conference level. Liz Grow earned two consecutive BIG EAST titles in 2002 and 2001, while Alison Howard claimed the team’s first BIG EAST outdoor individual championship in the 400 meters back in 1997.

Kristen Dodd is the top candidate for all-BIG EAST honors this year, as her 54.76 effort from the BIG EAST indoor meet is ninth on the top times list. Teammates Ayesha Boyd (55.29) and Tiffany Gunn (55.35) also have the ability to make the final race and score points toward the Irish team effort.

Men’s 400 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 3:45 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:10 p.m.


Ryan Postel will contend for the BIG EAST title in both the 100 and 400 meters.



The third event Ryan Postel has qualified for – and possibly his best chance at a BIG EAST title. Postel’s time from the indoor season at the Alex Wilson Invitational is ranked third in the league (47.01) and he has run 47.41 this season at the Mt. SAC Relays. Junior Trevor McClain-Duer is always a threat for all-BIG EAST honors in the 400 meters and enters the meet this weekend with the 10th-best time in the league (48.00).

Men’s 800 meters: Prelims: Saturday, 4:20 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

The 800 meters is the deepest and most competitive outdoor event on the schedule – with sprinters and middle distance runners both capable of doing well at this distance. Sophomore Thomas Chamney has ran several 800-meter races this season, and the Clonmel, Ireland, native boasts a season-best time of 1:51.44 (ranked 11th on the conference list). Chamney finished 15th in the 800 meters at last season’s outdoor meet.

Junior Eric Morrison (1:52.21, 15th) has also qualified for the conference meet in the 800 meters.

Women’s Discus: Trials and Final: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Sophomore Meghan Horn is no stranger to carrying the load for the women’s throw group at Notre Dame. Along with the hammer and shot put, she is the lone qualifier for the Irish in the discus. She finished ninth in the competition last year and enters this weekend’s meet with the fifth-best mark in the in the league (45.16).

Men’s High Jump: Trials and Final: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Notre Dame will enter four competitors in the high jump this weekend – with each athlete capable of finishing in the top eight. Juniors Ryan Mineburg and Chris Staron are the top qualifiers, each clearing 2.07m to rank fourth in the conference. Freshman Christopher Jacques is ninth at 2.00m, while freshman Adam Record is right behind in 10th (1.97m).

Staron finished third in the outdoor high jump last season and followed up with a second-place effort at the ’04 indoor meet.

Women’s 400-meter hurdles: Prelims: Saturday, 4:40 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:40 p.m.

Tiffany Gunn has spent the last two years as the lone Irish qualifier for the women’s 400-meter hurdles and looks to break through for all-BIG EAST honors this weekend. Her 1:00.52 effort from the Stanford Invitational is ranked fourth in the league (behind Miami’s Dominique Darden’s 57.24). Gunn finished 13th in the 400-meter hurdles a year ago.

Men’s 400-meter hurdles: Prelims: Saturday, 4:55 p.m. Finals: Sunday, 12:50 p.m.

The deepest event for Notre Dame this weekend is the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Mark Barber (53.38), Napolean Suarez (53.53), Alex Fortunato (54.39) and Roberto Garcia (54.42) are all in the top nine on the BIG EAST top times list and are capable of scoring several important points toward the team effort.

Barber will be looking to break through for his first individual all-BIG EAST outdoor certificate this weekend and is fourth on the league list. Suarez finished third in the 400-meter hurdles last season, while Barber just missed out on all-conference honors by finishing fourth. Garcia also scored points last season by finishing eighth in the final race.

Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase: Final: Saturday, 5:10 p.m.

Still a fairly new event on the women’s schedule, Notre Dame lost its top runner in this event, senior Megan Johnson, to an injury. Freshman Katie DeRusso and sophomore Jenny Walls will have to step up for Notre Dame. DeRusso is 13th on the league top times list at 11:10.54, while Walls is 17th at 11:23.79.

Men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase: Final: Saturday, 5:25 p.m.

The men’s team will be challenged to replace Luke Watson in this event, who took home league titles in 2003 and 2000. The Irish have two strong candidates, however. Freshman Todd Ptacek came out of nowhere two weeks ago at the Indy Relays, running 9:14.40 to post the top time in the league so far this season.

Junior Ryan Johnson will be in the mix as well, running 9:16.54 at the Tom Botts Invitational (third in the conference). Johnson finished ninth in the steeplechase last season, while Ptacek will be getting his first taste of individual competition at the conference level (he ran on the fourth-place 4×800-meter team at this season’s indoor meet).

Women’s 10,000 meters: Final: Saturday, 5:45 p.m.

Sophomore Jean Marianageli will be a strong contender for all-conference honors, entering this weekend’s meet with the third-best time in the league (36:14.66). She finished seventh in the 10,000 meters last season.

Men’s 10,000 meters: Final: Saturday: 6:25 p.m.

A competition once owned by the Notre Dame team (Ryan Shay and Jason Rexing combined to win this event five out of seven years), Tim Moore just missed bringing the title home last season with a third-place finish. Sophomore Kaleb Van Ort, an all-BIG EAST finisher in cross country last fall and second-place finisher in the 5,000 meters at the indoor meet, is the top Irish qualifier. He enters this weekend’s meet with the third-best time (29:40.85) and will be running with teammate Todd Mobley, who has the fourth-best time at 29:41.13. Sophomore Austin Weaver will be making his first BIG EAST Championship appearance in the 10,000 meters after qualifying at Purdue last weekend.

Women’s Triple Jump: Trials and Final: Sunday, 11:00 a.m.

Two Irish athletes will make the push for all-conference honors in the triple jump. Sophomore Petra Dankova finished fourth at the outdoor meet as a rookie last season and will enter this weekend’s action with the ninth-best effort in the conference (12.21m). Freshman Cassie Gullickson has also qualified for the event with a 11.91m jump at the BIG EAST indoor meet.

Men’s Javelin: Trials and Final: Sunday, 11:00 a.m.

Sophomore Derek Goguen and senior Dan Porter will be throwing the javelin for the Irish men this weekend. Goguen has been the top performer thus far in 2004, with a season-best effort of 60.59m at the Baldy Castillo – the first outdoor meet of the year.

Porter recently threw 54.34m at the Purdue Invitational and is 16th on the BIG EAST list, while Goguen is poised to make the finals and rated eighth on the top times list. Goguen finished ninth in the javelin at last season’s outdoor meet.

Men’s Pole Vault: Trials and Final: Sunday, 11:00 a.m.

The Notre Dame men’s pole vault group is young, with two freshmen carrying the load for the Irish. Justin Oppel is the top qualifier, clearing 4.80m at the Meyo Invitational during the indoor season to rank ninth on the BIG EAST list. Teammate Dave Viken’s 4.65m effort from the indoor season is 17th on the list.

Women’s Hammer Throw: Trials and Final: Sunday, 11:00 a.m.

Once again Meghan Horn carrying the scoring burden for the women’s throw group and she enters this weekend’s meet with the 15th-best effort (44.10m at the Spring Opener). Horn will be competing in both the shot put and discus as well, so the sophomore might choose to pass on the hammer competition (or one of the other two earlier in the meet).

Men’s Hammer Throw: Trials and Final: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

The Notre Dame men might be the strongest group in the hammer throw this weekend. According to the BIG EAST performance list, there are only seven qualifiers in the conference for the men’s hammer – and three of them wear a Notre Dame uniform. Juan Alba is ranked third with a 55.45m toss at the Tom Botts Invitational. Teammate Chip Roberts is right behind in fourth with a season-best mark of 53.92m. Senior Jason Davis is also in the mix in sixth at 51.50m.

Alba just missed all-BIG EAST honors in the hammer throw last season at the outdoor meet, finishing fourth. All three Irish throwers are looking to become the first men’s hammer throw specialist to earn all-conference honors since Jay Hofner in 1999.

Men’s Triple Jump: Trials and Final: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Senior Godwin Mbagwu will be looking for his second-straight triple jump title this weekend. His effort last year will forever be remembered, as the team championship was on the line with Mbagwu facing the runway on his final jump of the competition. Post the winning measurement and the Irish would take home the team title.


Godwin Mbagwu hopes to defend his outdoor triple jump title at this weekend’s BIG EAST Championship.



Mbagwu answered the call, leaping 15.32m on his final jump to win the triple jump championship and secure the BIG EAST outdoor title for the men’s team. He enters this weekend’s action as the jumper to beat as well. His 15.65m effort from the Alex Wilson Invitational is the best in the conference this season.

Women’s High Jump: Trials and Final: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Multi-event performer Stacey Cowan cleared 1.82m at this year’s BIG EAST indoor meet – a mark which placed her second to UConn’s Deidre Mullen. The two will most likely battle it out again, as Mullen’s season best clearance is 1.86m at the adidas Boston Indoor games.

Cowan will also be coming off competition in the heptathlon, but the sophomore did qualify for the NCAA Championship in the outdoor high jump last season.

Women’s 5,000 meters: Final: Sunday, 1:10 p.m.

The women’s 5,000 meters should be one of the races to watch this weekend as Irish All-American Molly Huddle battles Providence’s Kim Smith for the conference title. Huddle dominated the 5,000 meters at the ’04 indoor meet, winning the event title in 15:57.23 (setting a BIG EAST indoor and Carrier Dome record in the process). She distanced her closest competitor by 32 seconds.

Huddle has seen limited action during the ’04 outdoor season, running just one 1,500-meter race and one 5,000-meter run. Her season best time of 15:32.55 in the 5,000 meters from the Mt. SAC Relays is second on the BIG EAST top times list – behind PC’s Smith at 15:09.72 (also run at the Mt. SAC Relays).

Huddle won the 5,000 meters at last season’s outdoor meet in 15:58.51. She will be joined in the race by sophomore Stephanie Madia, who qualified with the 11th-best time in the league (16:34.48).

Men’s 5,000 meters: Final: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

Notre Dame will face a challenge in the 5,000 meters, should Todd Mobley and Kaleb Van Ort choose to run both the 10,000 and 5,000. Mobley and Van Ort are ninth and 10th on the league top times list, but Notre Dame’s top threat in the race will be junior Sean O’Donnell, who ran 14:25.66 at the Stanford Invitational (eighth on the BIG EAST list). Junior Ryan Johnson (14:43.02) has also qualified for the 5,000 meters.

Relays: Begin at 1:50 p.m. on Sunday

The Notre Dame relay group will be important toward the team goal this weekend. The women’s 4×100-meter relay will be looking to regain its league title after taking first in 2001 and 2002, then finishing third a year ago.

The men’s 4×100 team earned all-BIG EAST honors last season, and the group of Nurudeen, Postel, Hurd and Barber all return for 2004. The 4×800 team on the men’s side should be strong, with Chamney, Morrison, Somok, Ambrico or Benninger making up the team. The women’s 4×800 should be strong as well with the possibility of Meagher, La. King, Huddle and Madia making up a squad.

The 4×400 teams should be strong from both the men and women as well. The men can field any combination of Postel, Nurudeen, McClain-Duer, Barber, Suarez or Hurd and be a contender for all-conference honors. The Irish women can put together a team from Dodd, Boyd, Erigha, Gunn and Floyd to instantly be contenders for the event title.