Junior Thomas Chamney earned a berth in the finals of the 800-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships after finishing eighth in the semifinals with a time of 1.47.70 (second-best in school history) on Thursday in Sacramento, Calif.

Trio Of Irish Athletes Advance From Preliminaries At NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 7, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Three Notre Dame track & field athletes have advanced out of preliminary round competition at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, which kicked off Wednesday at Hornet Stadium inside the A.G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif. Junior 800-meter specialist Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s), senior 5,000-meter All-American Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame) and senior high jumper Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) all remain in the hunt for national titles, with Huddle and Loomis aiming to become Notre Dame’s first-ever women’s NCAA individual champion.

Chamney got the ball rolling in solid fashion for the Irish, advancing to the semifinals in the 800-meter run after posting a personal-best time of 1:48.45 (also seventh-quickest in school history) on Wednesday. Chamney finished third in the first of the four opening-round heats (and 10th overall), with the top three finishers in each heat plus the next four fastest times moving on to Thursday’s semifinals. In the 800-meter semis, the top three finishers in the two heats, and the next best two times will move to the finals.

Huddle then booked her spot in the finals of the 5,000 meters, winning the first of the two semifinal heats in a time of 16:07.44, which was the second-fastest overall mark behind Providence’s Mary Cullen (16:05.12). The top six runners in each heat, as well as the next four fastest finishers, advanced to the 16-runner final on Friday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT). Senior Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny), who fought through a lingering injury during the second half of the 2006 outdoor season, did not advance to the 5,000-meter final, finishing 11th in her heat (23rd overall) in a time of 16:47.04.

Loomis completed the trio of advancing Irish athletes with a solid outing in the high jump preliminaries, finishing eighth and matching her personal-best height of 5-10.75 (1.80 meters) — also tying for the fifth-best mark in school history. As it turned out, each of the top eight jumpers in the competition finished at the exact same 1.80-meter clearance, leading to a series of tiebreaks to determine placement. The primary breaker was number of misses at the top height (1.80m), which the top four jumpers cleared on their first attempt. The next jumper made it on her second try, while the final three in the top group (including Loomis) needed all three attempts at 1.80 meters to make it over safely. Of those three, Loomis missed twice at a lower height (1.74 meters), dropping her down to eighth, but still allowing her to qualify for the 14-person final on Friday at 6:45 p.m. ET (3:45 p.m. PT).

Junior Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.) also competed on Wednesday night, running in the 5,000-meter semifinals. However, he narrowly missed making the 16-man final, coming in 17th overall in a time of 14:08.17. The 16th-place qualifier — Paul Hefferon of Kansas — hit the line in 14:05.97.

Two Notre Dame men will be in action during Thursday’s second day at the NCAA Championships. Chamney will run in the 800-meter semifinals at 8:05 p.m. ET (5:05 p.m. PT), while senior Tim Moore (Novi, Mich./Novi) will race in the night’s last event — the 10,000-meter final — at 11 p.m. ET (8 p.m. PT).

— ND —

June 7, 2006
Sacramento, Calif. (Hornet Stadium/A.G. Spanos Sports Complex)

MEN’S 800-METER OPENING ROUND (top three per heat and next four fastest times advance): 1. Shaun Smith (Oral Roberts) 1:47.60; 10. Thomas Chamney (Notre Dame) 1:48.45.

WOMEN’S 5000-METER SEMIFINAL (top six per heat and next four fastest times advance): 1. Mary Cullen (Providence) 16:05.12; 2. Molly Huddle (Notre Dame) 16:07.44; 23. Stephanie Madia (Notre Dame) 16:47.04.

WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP PRELIMINARY (top 12 advance): 1. (tie) Sheena Gordon (North Carolina), Destinee Hooker (Texas), Gaelle Niare (SMU) and Miruna Mataoanu (Alabama) 1.80 meters/5-10.75; 8. Emily Loomis (Notre Dame) 1.80m/5-10.75.

MEN’S 5000-METER SEMIFINAL (top six per heat and next four fastest times advance): 1. Shadrack Songok (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) 13:55.32; 17. Kurt Benninger (Notre Dame) 14:08.17.