Feb. 19, 2004
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s indoor track and field squads are off to Syracuse, N.Y., this weekend for the 25th-annual BIG EAST Indoor Championship. The Irish men are looking to claim their second straight conference indoor title, while the women hope to move up to first after finishing second a year ago.
While the 2003 season marked the first year the Notre Dame men broke through for the team title, the men’s team has been a consistent threat at the league meet since they joined the BIG EAST in 1996. The men’s team has finished no lower than third in its eight previous visits to the Carrie Dome, including a four-year stretch of runner-up finishes (1997-2000). The women, on the other hand, have worked themselves into contention over the last three seasons. The Irish women grabbed the team title in 2002 and finished second a year ago.
BIG EAST Indoor Championship Major Award Winners:
Here is a look back at the major awards the Irish have taken home from the BIG EAST Championship indoor meet:
Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year, 2002
Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year, 2003
Jason Rexing, Outstanding Indoor Track Performer, 1998
BIG EAST Individual Champion Recap:
Here is a look back at Notre Dame’s individual indoor BIG EAST titles since it joined the conference meet in 1996:
Errol Williams, 55-meter hurdles, 1998 (7.26)
Chris Cochran, 60 meters, 2000 (6.79)
Marshaun West, 200 meters, 1999 (21.42)
Chris Cochran, 4000 meters, 2000 (47.76)
Jeff Hojnacki, 1,000 meters, 1996 (2:27.39)
Jeff Hojnacki, 1,0000 meters, 1997 (2:26.66)
Luke Watson, mile, 2003 (4:12.85)
Ryan Shay, 3,000 meters, 2002 (8:09.42)
Ryan Shay, 3,000 meters, 1999 (8:20.38)
Jason Rexing, 3,000 meters, 1998 (8:21.06)
Tim Moore, 5,000 meters, 2003 (14:26.78)
Ryan Shay, 5,000 meters, 2002 (14:15.57)
Ryan Shay, 5,000 meters, 2001 (14:10.00)
Jason Rexing, 5,000 meters, 1998 (14:24.31)
Jason Rexing, 5,000 meters, 1997 (14:37.80)
Jason Rexing, 5,000 meters, 1996 (14:17.99)
Marshaun West, long jump, 2000, (24-7)
Andrew Cooper, high jump, 2001 (6-9)
Mike Brown, pole vault, 1999 (16-2 3/4)
Mike Brown, pole vault, 1998 (17-1 1/2)
Mike Brown, pole vault, 1997 (16-2 3/4)
Mike Fleisch, shot put, 1996 (59-6 1/4)
Tameisha King, 60-meter hurdles, 2003 (8.39)
Liz Grow, 400 meters, 2000 (55.27)
Lauren King, mile, 2003 (4:46.90)
JoAnna Deeter, 5,000 meters (16:22.64)
Jaime Volkmer, pole vault (13-1 1/2)
Notre Dame preview:
For both Irish teams to fare well in the team title race this weekend, the meet qualifiers will have to step up to the competition and turn in some of their top efforts of the season. Here is a breakdown of the Irish team in each event (not every athlete qualified will compete in each event, the final list of entries has not yet been announced).
60 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 12:10 p.m.
Notre Dame has received a boost from the football team in the 60 meters this season. Until the Meyo Invitational, junior Selim Nurudeen was the lone conference qualifier with a 6.93 effort at the Notre Dame Invitational. Junior Dwight Ellick, an all-BIG EAST performer in the 200 meters from 2002 and starting cornerback for the Irish football team, returned to the track after missing the ’03 season with an injury and immediately qualified for the conference meet in the 60 meters (6.91). His time ranks eighth in the conference heading into the championship meet. Irish freshman Ambrose Wooden, another import from the football team, qualified for the conference meet last weekend at the Windsor Team Challenge by running 7.02 (ranked 17th in the field).
60-meter hurdles: Preliminaries – Saturday, 11:50 a.m. Finals – Sunday, 11:50 a.m.
This event could prove to be the deepest for the Irish men at the BIG EAST indoor meet. Junior Selim Nurudeen enters the meet as the favorite, looking for his first indoor title to go along with his two 110-meter hurdle outdoor titles in 2002 and 2003. Nurudeen is among the national leaders in the 60-meter hurdles, posting a scintillating 7.79 effort at the Meyo Invitational. That time is currently ranked the best in the BIG EAST Conference and seventh in the nation (as of Feb. 18).
Nurudeen will not be alone in the 60-meter hurdle field this weekend. Freshman Geoffrey Bennett turned in a 8.30 effort at the Notre Dame Invitational to post the seventh-fastest time in the league this year. Senior Mark Barber is right behind Bennett in eighth place (8.33), while senior Napolean Suarez also makes the field with a season-best 8.33 (tied with Barber for eighth).
200 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 2:15 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Notre Dame will be represented by two athletes in this event – senior Ryan Hurd and junior Dwight Ellick. As mentioned earlier, Ellick finished third in this event as a freshman in 2002, but missed last season’s indoor meet with a football-related injury. Both Ellick and Hurd do not have a lot of races under their belts this season – Hurd has been bothered by an injury while Ellick ran the 200 meters for the first time at the Meyo Invitational.
As they stand now, Ellick’s 21.60 time is ranked fourth in the conference, while Hurd is 12th at 22.06.
400 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 1:45 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 1:10 p.m.
The Irish will have two runners in contention for all-BIG EAST honors this weekend. Sophomore Ryan Postel has ran very well this indoor season and enters the meet with the third-best time in the conference (47.33). Junior Trevor McClain-Duer is in the top eight on the conference performance list as well, running 48.00 at the Notre Dame Invitational. Mark Barber (14th, 49.48) also met the conference qualifying time in the 400 meters.
800 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 3:45 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
Arguably the most competitive event in indoor track and field, Notre Dame has three 800-meter specialists that can contend for all-conference honors. Sophomore Thomas Chamney, a veteran of international competition, brings the seventh-best time in the conference into this weekend’s meet (1:51.53). Chamney has proven his ability to hang with any fast 800 meter race throughout the 2004 season.
Junior Eric Morrison is right behind Chamney on the conference performance list with a 1:52.21 effort at Notre Dame’s indoor opener. Senior Kevin Somok might also be in the 800-meter field, posting a 1:53.12 season best effort. Chamney, Morrison and Somok (along with Colin Quinn) earned all-BIG EAST honors last season on the 4×800-meter relay team.
1,000 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 3:15 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 11:10 a.m.
An event not run at the NCAA Championship will fall on the shoulders of Chamney – who enters the meet with the fifth-best time in the conference (2:27.52). Should Chamney just focus on the 800 meters, freshman Todd Ptacek (15th, 2:29.42) or sophomore Vinnie Ambrico (2:29.99) will take over this event for the Irish.
Mile: Preliminaries – Saturday, 2:45 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
2003 graduate Luke Watson won the mile last year and the Irish feature a host of competitors who have already qualified for the mile in hopes of bringing home another conference championship. Junior Eric Morrison will enter the meet with the conference’s second-best time (4:02.80), followed closely by freshman Kurt Benninger (4:03.67). Both of those times were posted during the Meyo Mile two week ago.
The Irish have a number of other runners qualified in the mile, including Kevin Somok (4:07.90), Vinnie Ambrico (4:11.10), Todd Mobley (4:13.02) and Kaleb Van Ort (4:16.49).
3,000 meters: Final – Sunday, 2:00 p.m.
Kurt Benninger is the top qualifier for the Irish in the 3,000 meters, running 8:15.42 at the Blue and Gold Invitational back in December. That time is ranked seventh in the conference. Sophomore Kaleb Van Ort (8:24.47, 18th) and senior Todd Mobley (8:27.33, 21st) might also enter the field in this event. The 3,000 meters has been one of the most successful events for Notre Dame at the indoor meet, providing four all-BIG EAST performances and three conference titles since 1996.
5,000 meters: Final – Saturday, 4:25 p.m.
Notre Dame has owned this event at the indoor meet since the Irish entered the BIG EAST Conference in 1996. Jason Rexing claimed three straight titles from 1996-98, Ryan Shay followed up with two in a row from 2001-02 and Tim Moore kept the win streak alive with a victory last season. Senior Todd Mobley (third, 14:28.54) will the one to watch for Notre Dame in this event as he sets his eye son his first BIG EAST individual title. Kaleb Van Ort (fourth, 14:29.71) will also be in the field with Mobley.
4×400-meter relay: Final – Sunday, 2:45 p.m.
A key part of Notre Dame’s indoor victory from a year ago was the performance of its relay teams. The same will hold true in 2004, as the team’s outcome might be decided by the runners with batons. The second-place 4×400-meter relay team from 2003 all return this season (Ryan Postel, Trevor McClain-Duer, Ryan Hurd, Mark Barber) and Notre Dame enters the meet with the second-best time in the league (3:12.23).
4×800-meter relay: Final – Sunday, 2:25 p.m.
With a host of 800-meter runners on the Irish team, this could prove to be the strongest relay for the Irish squad. The squad finished third last season and return Kevin Somok, Thomas Chamney and Eric Morrison this season.
Distance Medley Relay: Final – Saturday, 5:05 p.m.
The Irish have run the DMR just once this season – at the adidas Boston Indoor Games on Feb. 1. That effort by Ryan Postel, Kurt Benninger, Thomas Chamney and Eric Morrison gave the team a 9:45.33 time (third-best in the league) and an NCAA Provisional effort (time is ranked 17th in the nation as of Feb. 18).
High Jump : Final – Sunday, 12:00 p.m.
Notre Dame is the only school in the conference with four competitors qualified for the high jump. Juniors Ryan Mineburg and Chris Staron (both with season bests of 2.07m) should contend for all-BIG EAST honors, while freshman Adam Record (1.97m) will also be in the field this weekend along with classmate Christopher Jacques (2.00m). Of the four competitors, Chris Staron has an all-BIG EAST finish on his resume (third in 2002).
Pole Vault: Final – Saturday, 10:00 a.m.
Notre Dame claimed the team title last season without earning a point in the pole vault, as the team did not have a competitor qualify for the conference meet. That deficiency has been addressed this season, as freshmen Justin Oppel (4.80m) and Dave Viken (4.65m) have both qualified in the event this weekend. Oppel might be the top contender for the Irish, entering the meet after clearing a personal best 15-8 3/4 at the Meyo Invitational.
Long Jump: Final – Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Triple Jump: Final – Sunday, 10:30 a.m.
Senior Godwin Mbagwu – who has already reached legendary status at the BIG EAST Championship level, carries the torch for Notre Dame in both horizontal jumps. Mbagwu earned the BIG EAST outdoor team title for Notre Dame last season in the triple jump, winning his first individual title with the last jump of the competition. Mbagwu has carried the momentum from that victory into this season’s indoor efforts, entering this weekend’s meet with the conference’s fourth-best long jump effort (7.00m) and the top measurement in the triple jump (15.31m).
Shot Put: Final – Sunday, 12:00 p.m. Weight Throw – Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Another senior will carry most of the team scoring burden for Notre Dame in the throws. Juan Alba is hoping to finish among the top eight in both the shot put and weight throw this season. Alba boasts a 15.60m effort in the shot put (ninth in the conference) and can contend for all-BIG EAST honors if he matches his season-best effort in the weight throw (17.68m – third on the performance list). Junior Chip Roberts might also score some team points in the weight throw, entering the meet with the sixth-best mark in the league (16.59m).
60 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 12:10 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 12:00 p.m.
Notre Dame has a number of options to enter the 60-meter field this weekend, but senior Ayesha Boyd will be the one to keep an eye on. Boyd comes in with the seventh-best time in the conference (7.63) and has steadily improved her efforts in each meet this season. Boyd finished third in the 60 meters at the 2002 conference indoor meet.
Freshman Maryann Erigha has the best time on the team this season (7.55), but that was posted back in December at the Blue and Gold Invitational. If Erigha can shake off the effects of a minor injury, she could contend for all-BIG EAST honors. Senior Kristen Dodd (7.68) and junior Tricia Floyd (7.78) have also qualified for the 60 meters.
60-meter hurdles: Preliminaries – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Finals – Sunday, 11:40 a.m.
Junior Tiffany Gunn is the lone Irish qualifier in the 60-meter hurdles and the Irish captain has proved just how valuable she is to the team effort this season. She has qualified for the league meet in four different events (60-meter hurdles, 200 meters, 400 meters, 500 meters) and is among the league leaders in all of those events. Her 8.68 effort in the 60-meter hurdles from the Central Michigan Opener is ranked 13th in the conference.
200 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 2:00 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 1:20 p.m.
Three Irish entries will contend for all-BIG EAST honors in the 200 meters. Senior Kristen Dodd has the sixth-best time in the league (24.42), senior Ayesha Boyd is 15th (24.94) and Tiffany Gunn is 12th at 24.79. Gunn, who will also run the 500 meters, might not compete in the 200.
400 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Once again sprint coach John Millar will have several options on who to enter in this event. Tiffany Gunn boasts the fastest time on the team from the Meyo Invitational (55.35), but might be overworked with the 60-meter hurdles and 500 meters. Ayesha Boyd is 10th on the performance list (55.79), while Kristen Dodd is right behind her in 11th (55.81). Junior Tricia Floyd (56.75) also is qualified in the 400 meters.
500 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 12:50 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 12:40 p.m.
The first of Notre Dame’s individual victory options, as junior Tiffany Gunn is one of the top 500-meter specialists in the conference. Her 1:13.37 season-best effort is ranked second in the league and she is looking to earn all-BIG EAST indoor honors for the first time in her career.
800 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 11:20 a.m.
Just like the men, the women’s 800 meters will be one of the most hotly contested events during the meet this weekend. Junior Kerry Meagher enters as the top qualifier for Notre Dame, running 2:13.03 at the Notre Dame Invitational (ranked 11th in the conference). Megan Johnson (2:13.84) is another option for the Irish in this competition.
1,000 meters: Preliminaries – Saturday, 3:00 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 11:00 a.m.
Megan Johnson is the top qualifier for Notre Dame in the 1,000 meters, posting a 2:54.07 effort at the Meyo Invitational. Sophomore Elizabeth Webster (2:56.47) has also qualified for the 1,000-meter competition. Notre Dame has not had a all-BIG EAST effort in the 1,000 meters since Jennifer Pavela in 1999.
Mile: Preliminaries – Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Finals – Sunday, 12:20 p.m.
Junior Lauren King is looking to become the first Notre Dame women’s track and field athlete to earn two BIG EAST indoor titles this season – as she hits the track at the Carrier Dome looking to defend her 2003 mile championship. The event will be hotly contested, as King enters with the sixth-best time in the league of 4:42.98. (currently ranked 11th in the country).
King will have company in the race as well. Junior Kerry Meagher’s 4:45.98 effort from the Meyo Invitational puts her in possible contention for scoring (finishing in the top eight) and is ranked 27th nationally. Sophomore Molly Huddle (11th, 4:49.21) might also enter the mile run this weekend and if so, will instantly become one of the favorites for all-BIG EAST honors.
3,000 meters: Finals – Sunday, 1:40 p.m.
This could turn out to be the biggest battle of the conference indoor meet this season. Sophomore Molly Huddle, the reigning U.S. Junior 3,000-meter Champion, enters this weekend’s competition with the second best time in the league behind Providence’s Kim Smith. Huddle has run a school record 9:08.60, while Smith boasts at 9:04.90 effort. Both runners are far ahead of the rest of the BIG EAST field and it should come down to the two for the individual title.
5,000 meters: Finals – Saturday, 4:00 p.m.
Providence’s Kim Smith is the top qualifier in the 5,000 meters, but she could decide to both the mile and 3,000 meters – leaving the 5,000 meters up for grabs by Notre Dame’s three qualifiers. Sophomore Jean Marinangeli has the third-best time in the league (17:20.20) and will be joined in the race by Katie Wales and Maggie Nelsen.
4×400-meter relay: Finals – Sunday, 2:35 p.m.
Notre Dame’s 4×400-meter relay has never broken through for a team title at the indoor meet and this season might provide the team its best chance. Perennial contender Miami stands in the way (3:34.45),but the Irish have the ability to claim the event title. Any combination of Ayesha Boyd, Kristen Dodd, Tiffany Gunn, Tricia Floyd, Okechi Ogbuokiri or Maryann Erigha can improve on the team’s 3:41.75 time from the Meyo Invitational (ranked third in the conference).
4×800-meter relay: Finals – Sunday, 2:15 p.m.
A non-NCAA Championship event, Notre Dame should be able to field a solid 4×800-meter relay group with any combination of Kerry Meagher, Megan Johnson, Elizabeth Webster, Lauren King or Molly Huddle.
Distance Medley Relay: Finals – Saturday, 4:50 p.m.
The DMR will feature a rematch from the Meyo Invitational, where Georgetown was able to just nudge ahead of Notre Dame at the end to claim the event victory. The Hoyas finished in 11:07.27, while the Irish were right behind at 11:07.94. Those times are ranked third and fourth in the nation so far in 2004. Notre Dame’s squad from the Meyo Invitational should be intact this weekend, with Lauren King starting it off, followed by Kristen Dodd, Kerry Meagher and Molly Huddle. King and Huddle both ran on last season’s BIG EAST indoor relay, which won in a meet-record 11:24.45.
High Jump: Finals – Sunday, 10:30 a.m.
The Irish will have three entries in the high jump this weekend, led by sophomore Stacey Cowan. Cowan qualified and competed in the NCAA outdoor meet last season and cleared 1.79m at the Central Michigan Opener to post the second-best clearance in the league this year. That measurement also is ranked 25th in the nation as of Feb. 18.
Senior Jennifer Kearney (seventh, 1.68m) and freshman Cassie Gullickson (1.64m) also will enter the high jump competition with the ability to score points toward the team total.
Pole Vault: Finals – Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
The pole vault has been among the deepest events on the Irish women’s team and, even with the loss of 2003 BIG EAST indoor champion Jaime Volkmer, the Irish have three qualifiers in the field this weekend. Sophomore Laura Huarte, who has been sidelined with an injury over the last few weeks, is seventh in the league with a 3.50m clearance back in December. If Huarte is healthy, she can contend for all-BIG EAST honors. Senior Jill VanWeelden also has the ability to finish in the top three, as she also cleared 3.50m earlier this season. Sophomore Dee Dee Bryant continues her steady improvement and qualified for the conference indoor meet by clearing 3.35m at the Meyo Invitational.
Triple Jump: Finals – Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
Sophomore Petra Dankova came out of nowhere last season to earn all-BIG EAST honors in her first indoor meet of the season after missing most of the campaign with an injury. She has qualified again in 2004, jumping 11.90m at the Blue and Gold Invitational in December. Freshman Cassie Gullickson has steadily improved during her rookie year, recently jumping a season-best 11.85m at the Meyo Invitational. Dankova and Gullickson are ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, on the BIG EAST indoor performance list.
Shot Put: Finals – Sunday, 10:30 a.m. Weight Throw: Finals – Saturday, 11:00 a.m.
For the second season in a row, sophomore Megan Horn carries the torch for Notre Dame in the women’s throw group. Horn has been improving her marks in each meet this season, recently peaking at 13.69m in the shot put (10th on the performance list) and 13.63m in the weight throw at the Meyo Invite.
Full recaps for each day of competition will be available on www.und.com as soon as possible upon completion of the day’s events. Results can also be found on the following links