March 23, 2002

The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams did exactly what they set out to do at their first outdoor meet of the season in Tempe, Ariz. The Irish were determined to use the Baldy Castillo Invitational as a spring board to and outstanding outdoor season – and the teams accomplished their goals.

After competition had ended on Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame had recorded 14 top-five finishes and assured themselves of 20 spots in the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships in Storrs, Conn., later this season (May 3-5).

The Irish women’s sprint group, along with a number of impressive field event performances, set the tone for both teams in the meet. Indoor All-American Liz Grow, competing just two weeks after her fourth-place finish in the 400 meters at the NCAA Championships, finished second on Saturday in the 400 meters. Her 53.61 NCAA consideration time puts the senior on a solid path toward another championship meet appearance this season.

Sophomore Ayesha Boyd continued her stellar second-year campaign with two-top five efforts in the 100 and 200 meters. Boyd took third in the 100 (11.76), then moved up to second in the 200 (24.45). Her 100 meter time was a personal best on an outdoor track.

Classmate Kristen Dodd was equally impressive in the desert, crossing the line in 24.45 to take fourth place in the 200 meters and finishing eighth in the 400 meters. Both of Dodd’s time are under the BIG EAST outdoor championship meet qualifying times.

The men’s sprint team was carried by two solid races from freshman Dwight Ellick. He began with an eight-place finish in the 100 meters, then capped his meet with an impressive second-place effort in the 200 meters (21.57).

Notre Dame’s outdoor hurdle group flexed its freshmen strength this weekend. On the men’s side, Selim Nurudenn recorded two top-five times, finishing fifth in the 400-meter hurdles (53.51) and fourth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.50). Freshman Tiffany Gunn placed fifth in the 400 hurdles (1:03.24) and joined junior Tameisha King in the 100-meter hurdles, as Gunn finished eighth in 15.12. King, who did not compete in the long jump, had a great effort in the 100 hurdles, taking third place in 14.15.

Among the Notre Dame field event group, senior Derek Dyer might have had the most impressive meet. His 16.45m (53-11 3/4) toss in the shot put set a new personal best and was good enough for fifth place in the competition. Dyer also had a solid effort in the discus, taking sixth place with a 47.80m (156-10) measurement.

The women’s pole vault team, among the best in the BIG EAST Conference, got off to a solid outdoor season start. Jaime Volkmer and Jill Van Weelden tied for fifth, as both Irish vaulters cleared 3.35m (10-11 3/4). Volkmer added another top-five finish later in the meet, as the Irish junior placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 11.94m (39-2 1/4).

Other field event entries for the Irish included Tom Gilbert in the long jump (7.09m – eighth place) and Mike Madigan in the javelin (56.25m – 12th place). Both Gilbert and Madigan posted BIG EAST outdoor meet qualifying marks.

The men’s team did send three middle distance runners to the meet and senior Pat Conway led the trio with a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 meters (3:51.11). Kevin Somok followed in seventh place (3:51.90), while freshman Eric Morrison was 16th (3:56.39).

The outdoor season continues for the men and women next weekend in three different meets. The sprinters will head to the Florida Relays (March 30), the distance runners will travel to the traditional early-season Stanford Invitational (March 30) and the rest of the roster will head to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Purdue Invitational.