March 6, 2003
Notre Dame hosts last chance NCAA qualification meet in Loftus this weekend:
The 2003 Alex Wilson Invitational is set for this weekend, Friday and Saturday, in the Loftus Sports Center on Notre Dame’s campus. One of the top ‘last chance’ meets in the nation, several schools will send their best athletes to Northern Indiana looking to improve their qualification times, or post their first qualification before the NCAA Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 14 and 15.
The conference meets are over, the trophies have been handed out and collegiate track and field programs across the nation are focused on the NCAA Championship. The Alex Wilson Invitational is a different kind of track and field meet, with a multitude of teams sending anywhere from one to 10 athletes looking to improve their NCAA qualification times, or reach an automatic time on the Loftus Center’s fast track.
This weekend’s meet is guaranteed to feature some of the top athletes from across the nation. Each race will be closely contested as athletea look to assure a spot in the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame athletes looking to move up the NCAA list:
There are a number of Notre Dame athletes from each team who have already secured a spot in the NCAA Championship, but there are also some in that unsure middle ground – just how deep will the entries go?
Sophomore hurdler Selim Nurudeen is one of the Notre Dame athletes looking to inch his way up the NCAA qualification list. Nurudeen has run a personal-best 7.83 in the 60-meter hurdles this season and is currently 24th in the NCAA descending order list. He will hope to move up this weekend in the event and will be helped by an elite field looking to accomplish the same goal. Nurudeen finished second to earn all-BIG EAST honors at this year’s conference indoor meet. He also finished eighth in the 60 meters.
Senior pole vault specialist Jaime Volkmer also finds herself in the middle ground. She cleared 4.00m, once again setting the school record, at the BIG EAST Conference meet two weeks ago to earn her first BIG EAST individual championship. Currently, Volkmer is 19th on the NCAA list. She will be joined by teammates Laura Huarte and Jill VanWeelden looking to clear 4.05m this weekend to secure a spot in the NCAA field. The automatic qualification height is 4.20m, though 4.05m should get an athlete into the NCAA field. Volkmer is looking to become the first Irish female pole vaulter to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship.
The high jump also features a Notre Dame athlete looking to move up the NCAA list. All-BIG EAST volleyball player and high jumper Emily Loomis is hoping to qualify for her second-career NCAA Championship. Loomis led the Notre Dame volleyball team to a first-round victory in the 2002 NCAA Volleyball Championship and is currently 19th in the high jump on the NCAA lists. Loomis has gone 1.79m this year and will look to add just a bit (1.80m) to that clearance to get a spot in the event in Fayetteville. The sophomore from Fort Wayne, Ind., has earned all-BIG EAST honors in three consecutive conference meets. Stacey Cowan, who is 32nd (1.77m) on the NCAA list in the high jump, also will compete this weekend.
The women’s mile run will be highly competitive this weekend, and two Irish athletes are hoping to use the fast field to post NCAA qualification times. Sophomore Lauren King is 31st on the NCAA list with a 4:46.30 effort and has the ability to reach the 4:42.60 NCAA automatic time. She has already qualified for the NCAA meet in the 3,000 meters (9:19.52). Teammate and freshman Molly Huddle is fourth in the nation in the 3,000 meters this year (9:14.33) and will run the mile at the Alex Wilson as well. Huddle’s top effort in the mile this season was 4:50.62 against Michigan State on Jan. 31.
Freshman Petra Dankova, who earned all-BIG EAST honors in the triple jump in her first indoor meet of the season two weeks ago, could move up the NCAA TJ list. She is currently in 33rd (12.67m) and looking to close in on the automatic measurement (13.15m).
Senior Jennifer Handley, who competed at the 2002 NCAA outdoor meet in the 10,000 meters, will make a run at a qualification time in the 5,000 meters on Friday evening. She will need to run close to the NCAA automatic time of 16:20.00.
The men’s distance medley relay team is focused on Friday night’s competition to post an NCAA qualification time. The team of Eric Morrison, Ryan Postel, Thomas Chamney and Luke Watson have the ability to reach the automatic time of 9:36.05 and put themselves in the NCAA field.
Notre Dame fans should also keep an eye on the 4×440-yard relay team of Tiffany Gunn, Kristen Dodd, Kymia Love and Ayesha Boyd. Dodd, Love and Boyd all earned All-America honors on this relay a year ago and are looking for a time close to 3:37.05 to get in the NCAA field.
Notre Dame athletes already in the NCAA field:
While some are still competing this weekend in other events, Notre Dame has a number of athletes who have already landed a spot in the NCAA Championship field.
Senior Luke Watson, featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated ‘Faces in the Crowd’ for his memorable Meyo Mile victory, leads the way for the men’s team. Watson has already qualified in the 3,000 meters and the mile – boasting the top mile run effort of the collegiate indoor season (3:57.83) and a BIG EAST Championship in the event. Watson’s 3,000-meter time is fifth in the country. The Stillwater, Minn., native has not yet decided which event he will run at the NCAA meet – he is concentrating on running the anchor leg of the DMR on Friday evening.
Watson should be joined in the mile run by sophomore Eric Morrison. Morrison was in the Meyo Mile field and posted an impressive 4:01.90 performance – which is 19th in the nation.
Freshman Molly Huddle and sophomore Lauren King have both already automatically qualified for the 3,000 meters. Huddle’s school-record 9:14.33 is fourth in the nation, while King’s 9:19.52 effort is 15th. King and Huddle were both members of the BIG EAST Champion DMR team from two weeks ago, and King also took home an individual title in the mile.
Notre Dame’s long jump record holder, senior Tameisha King, will be in the NCAA field as well. Her impressive 6.31m effort, which was first in the nation for much of the season, is currently 12th. She will jump at the Alex Wilson Invitational looking to improve that mark, but the Mableton, Ga., native might have already put herself in the field with that early-season jump. The NCAA automatic measurement in the women’s long jump 6.40m.
Alex Wilson Invitational results:
Complete results from the 2003 Alex Wilson Invitational will be posted on www.und.com. Results also will be available on www.deltatiming.com. Media members or SIDs from participating schools can request and e-mail copy of the results. Please send your request to: Wasielewski.email@example.com.