May 28, 2003
New NCAA regional format lies ahead for Irish competitors:
The path to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship has been altered for the University of Notre Dame track and field athletes in 2003. In the past, a season’s-best time or mark was compared against everyone in the nation for each respective event. Getting to the NCAA Championship meet meant hoping a season-best time or mark would be ranked among roughly the top 15 in the country.
The indoor meet was run in that same fashion this season, but the NCAA has introduced a regional qualifying meet for outdoor track in 2003. Notre Dame has been designated to the Mideast Region, along with all Division I track and field competing schools from Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Mideast regional meet begins on Friday, May 30, in Columbus, Ohio.
To advance out to Sacramento for the NCAA Championship, competitors will have to finish in the top three in each event at the regional. With four regions across the country (West, Midwest, Mideast and East), that puts 12 automatic qualifiers into the national championship meet. A committee will then select three to five more ‘at-large’ competitors to fill out the final field for championship competition.
Just a quick glance at the states listed in Notre Dame’s region show just how competitive the regional meet will be. The Mideast region features such powerhouse track and field teams as LSU, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Mississippi State, just to name a few of the elite teams in the field.
Notre Dame regional qualifiers:
Here is a quick list of the 24 competitors who will represent Notre Dame at the regional meet this weekend –
Women’s team: Tameisha King, 4×100-meter relay, long jump * Kymia Love, 200 meters, 400 meters, 4×100-meter relay, 4×400-meter relay * Tiffany Gunn, 400 meters *Lauren King, 1,500 meters * Molly Huddle, 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters * Stephanie Madia, 1,500 meters * Kerry Meagher, 1,500 meters * Jennifer Handley, 5,000 meters * Ayesha Boyd, 4×100-meter relay, 4×400-meter relay * Kristen Dodd, 4×400-meter relay * Emily Loomis, high jump * Stacey Cowan, high jump * Kelsey Wicks, high jump * Jaime Volkmer, pole vault, triple jump * Petra Dankova, triple jump
Men’s team: Thomas Chamney, 800 meters * Eric Morrison, 1500 meters * Kevin Somok, 1500 meters * Luke Watson, 5000 meters * David Alber, 3,000-meter steeplechase * John Keane, 5,000 meters * Selim Nurudeen, 110-meter hurdles * Chris Staron, high jump * Godwin Mbagwu, triple jump * Juan Alba, discus, hammer
Irish athletes hope to end track and field season on a high note:
Several of Notre Dame’s competitors at the NCAA regional this weekend are focused on putting a final stamp on the 2003 track and field season – and in some instances, their Irish careers.
Tameisha King is hoping to follow up her All-American finish in the indoor long jump this season with her third career outdoor long jump certificate. She finished sixth with a 6.25m (20-6 1/4) jump at the NCAA indoor meet back in March. King also is competing in the 100-meter hurdles, the 100 meters and the 4×100-meter relay to complete an exhausting weekend in Columbus.
Sophomore Lauren King will be looking to follow up her All-American effort in the indoor mile with a spot in the 1,500-meter field.
Perennial All-American Luke Watson will also be looking to add to his impressive career All-America totals. The Stillwater, Minn., native took third in the indoor mile and 11th in the 3,000 meters to push his All-America total to seven during his five-year Irish career. He will be among the favorites in both the 5,000 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase this weekend.
Another key Irish competitor to keep an eye on is freshman Molly Huddle. Huddle finished ninth at the NCAA indoor meet in the 3,000 meters and enters this weekend’s regional meet with the fastest 5,000-meter qualification in the field (15:36.95).
Notre Dame competitor break down:
Ayesha Boyd – Boyd competed as part of both the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relay teams at last year’s NCAA outdoor meet. She helped the 4×400 team finish fifth in 3:32.12 to earn All-America honors. Also a member of last season’s BIG EAST Champion 4×100-meter relay team, Boyd was slowed early in the track and field season by a leg injury.
Stacey Cowan – One of the best all-around athletes on the team, Cowan has provided an immediate presence in the heptathlon, pentathlon and high jump for Notre Dame in her rookie season. She finished fourth at the BIG EAST indoor meet in the high jump (1.73m) while also finishing fourth in the pentathlon (3,313 points). She continued her high jump improvement at the Baldy Castillo Meet in Tempe, Ariz., to begin the outdoor season, clearing 1.75m to win the event. Cowan continued her impressive high jump efforts at the Tom Botts Invitational (third) and Mt. SAC Relays (fifth) before finishing sixth at the BIG EAST outdoor meet (in which she also earned all-BIG EAST honors with 4,675 points in the heptathlon – a school record total). Cowan is ranked 19th in the field for the regional meet this weekend.
Petra Dankova – This freshman literally jumped on the scene at the BIG EAST indoor meet earlier in the season. After not being able to compete for a majority of the indoor schedule, Dankova posted a 12.67m (41-7) jump at the BIG EAST indoor championship to finish third and earn all-BIG EAST honors. The 12.67m effort set a new school record as well. She enters this weekend’s regional meet with a 12.52m outdoor-best measurement from the Indy Invitational back on April 19. That mark is ranked 24th in the regional field.
Kristen Dodd – A key member of Notre Dame’s successful relay teams since she hit campus three years ago, Dodd will make the trip this weekend as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team (and could also compete on the 4×100-meter squad). Dodd was a member of last year’s 4×400 outdoor team which finished fifth at the NCAA Championship to earn All-America honors. She was also a member of the two-time BIG EAST Championship 4×100-meter team (2001, 2002). Notre Dame’s 4×400 team enters the meet this weekend with a 3:37.58 season-best time, putting them sixth in the ultra-competitive field.
Tiffany Gunn – Gunn, a sophomore, excels at the 400-meter distance, whether it is going over a hurdle or straight down the track. She will be in both the 400-meter field (26th, 54.92) and 400-meter hurdle field (27th, 1:01.13) this weekend.
Jennifer Handley – Handley is wrapping up her outstanding Irish career this month, hoping to appear in the NCAA Championship for the second time. One of the top Notre Dame cross country runners during her time on campus, Handley appeared in the 10,000-meter field at the NCAA outdoor meet last season. This weekend she will compete in the 5,000 meters, entering the meet ranked 25th (16:55.03).
Molly Huddle – Huddle has enjoyed one of the finest rookie seasons by an Irish distance runner in both the cross country and track and field program’s history. She helped the women’s cross country team finish third at the NCAA Championship by earning All-America honors. She soon shifted to the 3,000 meters for the indoor season and finished ninth at the NCAA Championship to earn her second All-America certificate. This weekend, Huddle will be the runner to beat in the 5,000 meters after logging a U.S. Junior Record 15:36.95 effort at the Mt. SAC Relays earlier this season. She also qualified in the 1,500 meters, in which her 4:20.50 season-best time would have been ranked eighth in the field.
Huddle won the 5,000 meters at the BIG EAST outdoor meet three weeks ago and ran the anchor leg on Notre Dame’s DMR conference champion team.
Lauren King – Another cross country stand out for Notre Dame, King earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championship on the Irish third-place team. She concentrated on middle distance for the track and field season and came through with a seventh-place effort in the NCAA indoor mile finals (4:43.89). King shifted to the 1,500 meters for the outdoor schedule and has been outstanding, running a 4:14.72 season-best effort two weeks ago at the Georgia Tech Invitational. That time is ranked third entering this weekend’s regional meet. King won both the indoor mile BIG EAST title and was a member of the conference champion DMR team as well.
Tameisha King – One of the most important and versatile athletes in Notre Dame track and field history, Tameisha King is looking to close out her stellar career with a bang – beginning with this weekend’s regional meet. The Mableton, Ga., native will compete in the long jump and the sprint relays for Notre Dame, while also posting qualifications in the 100 meters and 100-meter hurdles.
Her 6.61m long jump effort is second on the Mideast region descending order list. The Mideast region is arguably the fastest in the nation in terms of the sprint fields, but King does have the ability to advance to the NCAA Championship in the long jump and as a member of one of Notre Dame’s relay teams. A two-time NCAA outdoor long jump All-American, King finished sixth in the long jump at this year’s NCAA indoor meet.
Emily Loomis – Sophomore Emily Loomis has quickly established herself as one of the best all-around athletes at Notre Dame. A first-team all-BIG EAST volleyball stand out and the conference championship most outstanding player, Loomis has earned all-BIG EAST honors in all four conference high jump competitions she has entered. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native broke through for her first individual BIG EAST title at this year’s outdoor meet, clearing 1.75m (which is ranked 13th in the regional field). Loomis just missed out on advancing to the NCAA indoor meet in the high jump earlier this season and hopes to take advantage of the new regional format to earn her first NCAA Championship track and field appearance.
Kymia Love – Putting the final touches on her stand out Notre Dame career this month, Love will appear in the 200 meters, 400 meters and both relays for the Irish. Love helped the 4×400-meter team earn All-America honors last season and has been a perennial all-BIG EAST performer throughout her career. She enters this weekend’s meet 19th in the 200 meters (23.77) and 10th in the 400 meters (53.85).
Stephanie Madia – Madia has developed into a steady middle distance runner for the Irish in this, her rookie season. She has established herself as a consistent threat in the 1,500 meters, finishing third at the Tom Botts Invitational and ninth at the BIG EAST Championship. Her 4:26.98 season-best time is ranked 18th in the regional field.
Kerry Meagher – After concentrating on the 800 meters for much of the indoor and outdoor season, Meagher moved up to the 1,500 meters at the Georgia Tech Invitational two weeks ago and promptly posted a regional qualifying time of 4:30.45 to put her 26th in the field. She will be helped by running with three teammates (L. King, S. Madia) in the event.
Jaime Volkmer – As with a number of talented seniors, Jaime Volkmer is hoping to end her Notre Dame career on a high note this month. One of the top pole vaulters in the BIG EAST Conference since she stepped on campus four years ago, Volkmer owns both the indoor and outdoor school record and broke through for a BIG EAST Championship in the indoor pole vault this season. She enters this weekend’s regional meet 11th in the field with an outdoor best of 3.90m. Volkmer consistently cleared 4.00m during the indoor season, however, and has flashed the ability to go over 4.20m – which would put her in position to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time in her career.
Volkmer also will compete in the triple jump after her 12.61m effort from the BIG EAST outdoor meet put her 22nd in the regional field.
Kelsey Wicks – A former basketball player for Notre Dame, Wicks has proved a quick study in the high jump and gives Notre Dame a talented and young trio of athletes in the event (combined with fellow sophomore Emily Loomis and freshman Stacey Cowan). Wicks began competing in track and field at the Indy Relay on April 19. She ended up fifth at the BIG EAST outdoor meet with her season-best 1.70m clearance (which is ranked 32nd in the regional field).
David Alber – Alber, preparing to take over the torch for Luke Watson in the steeplechase next year, has steadily improved his time in the event over the course of the season. He is 22nd in the regional field with a 9:07.07 3,000-meter steeplechase time from his victory at the Indy Invitational.
Juan Alba – Arguably one of the most improved competitors on either Irish roster this season, Alba has qualified for the NCAA regional meet in both the discus (50.77m) and hammer throw (55.61m). Alba played a key role in Notre Dame’s outdoor team title this season, earning all-BIG EAST honors in the discus (second place) and taking fourth in the hammer throw.
Thomas Chamney – A true Irishman for the Fighting Irish, Chamney is out of Clonmel, Ireland, and has been an immediate contributor in the middle distance lane. Chamney has concentrated on the 800 meters for most of his freshman season, making an NCAA appearance at the indoor meet as a member of the distance medley relay team (which finished 10th in the field). Chamney flashed his ability to excel in the 800 meters at the Tom Botts Invitational, where he finished first in 1:49.55. That time puts him 20th in the regional field.
Godwin Mbagwu – Junior Godwin Mbagwu transformed himself into the hero of Notre Dame’s BIG EAST outdoor team title three weeks ago. With his final jump of the triple jump competition, Mbagwu soared 15.32m to claim his first individual BIG EAST title and secure the team crown for the Irish. Having fought through leg problems during his career at Notre Dame, Mbagwu hopes to rip off another great jump at this weekend’s regional meet. His 15.32m mark is ranked 25th in the field.
Eric Morrison – Morrison has improved dramatically during his sophomore campaign After running in the now legendary Meyo Mile from this year’s Meyo Invitational, Morrison has continued to shine in the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500 meters. He will be running with several of the top 1,500-meter specialists in the nation this weekend, but his 3:44.16 season-best time puts him in the running for the top five (currently ranked 14th in the field). Morrison finished third in the 1,500 meters at the BIG EAST outdoor meet, following up his all-BIG EAST performance from the indoor mile earlier in the year.
Selim Nurudeen – Two-time BIG EAST 110-meter champion Selim Nurudeen continues to improve with each and every race. After just missing out on the NCAA indoor meet in the 60-meter hurdles, Nurudeen is hoping to take advantage of the talented field this weekend to move on to the national meet. He will enter the meet with the 10th-best time in the field (13.95) and will be on the track with several of the top hurdlers in the nation.
Kevin Somok – Junior Kevin Somok has stepped up during the track and field season after coming into his own during the 2002 cross country season. Somok will join teammate Eric Morrison in the 1,500-meter field this weekend after running 3:48.48 at the Stanford Invitational. That time is ranked 30th in the regional field.
Chris Staron – Sophomore Chris Staron’s specialty is the high jump and he is coming off an all-BIG EAST finish in the event at the conference outdoor meet. Staron has cleared 2.07m this season and boasts three all-BIG EAST certificates on his resume in four conference meet appearances.
Luke Watson – Watson missed out on double All-America honors at the NCAA outdoor meet a year ago. After falling in the preliminaries of the steeplechase and rallying to finish sixth in the finals, Watson did not compete in the 5,000 meters the next day. Featured in Sports Illustrated’s ‘Faces In The Crowd’ section after his awesome Meyo Mile victory during the indoor season, Watson enters this weekend’s meet with the fourth-best 5,000-meter time (13:38.73) in the region.
Regional results and meet information:
Daily recaps of the Notre Dame competitors will be available on www.und.com. Delta Timing is offering live results at their web page – http://www.deltatiming.com/events/2003/mideast/index.html.
Tickets for the event will be $10 for adults and $7 for students. Please see the official event website at http://ohiostatebuckeyes.ocsn.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/osu-c-track-03regional.html for additional information.
Notre Dame men’s team becomes first Irish squad to win both the league indoor and outdoor titles in the same season:
The NCAA regional meet will be a team scored event this weekend, but the Notre Dame men’s track and field team is still riding high from their team score at the BIG EAST Conference outdoor meet. After edging Connecticut 114-101 for the team indoor title in February behind two conference titles from senior Luke Watson, the Irish beat out the Huskies again 139-136.5 in Storrs, Conn., three weeks ago to claim the outdoor title as well.
The winning margin in the outdoor meet was provided by junior Godwin Mbagwu, who jumped from seventh to first in the field with his final triple jump effort. Mbagwu grabbed his first individual BIG EAST title and secured the men’s team its second outdoor title since joining the conference in 1996. Combined with their indoor victory earlier in the season, the Notre Dame men’s team has won three overall BIG EAST track and field championships and finished lower than third in only one competition (sixth, 2001 outdoor meet).