Okechi Ogbuokiri was a 12-time all-BIG EAST honoree and won four BIG EAST titles during her sprint career at Notre Dame.

Two Women's Track & Field Standouts Tapped For Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards

June 15, 2007

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Two members of the Notre Dame women’s track & field team — seniors Maryann Erigha (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee) and Okechi Ogbuokiri (Willingboro, N.J./Willingboro) — recently earned recognition as recipients of Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award, it was announced by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Erigha was named to the award’s First Team, while Ogbuokiri was a fourth-team selection, with this year’s honors marking the first time either athlete has been chosen for the award.

One of the top sprinters in school history, Erigha qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional in the 200-meter dash each of her four years at Notre Dame, while adding regional qualifications in the 100 meters her final three seasons and racing on two Mideast Regional-qualifying relays (4×100, 4×400) in 2007. In addition, she holds the Irish record for most all-BIG EAST Conference honors (15), as well as indoor (7) and outdoor (8) certificates. The Notre Dame record books are dotted with Erigha’s name, as she owns eight of the top 10 100-meter times and five of the top six 60-meter dash marks in school history.

A two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District choice and multiple Dean’s List honoree, Erigha graduated from the College of Arts and Letters last month with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and computer applications. She also was a member of Notre Dame’s Academic Honors for Student-Athletes program and registered a 3.83 cumulative GPA during her academic career, with perfect a 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) during the spring ’06 and spring ’07 semesters. In May, she was selected to receive Notre Dame’s most prestigious student-athlete honor, the Byron V. Kanaley Award, which is presented annually to a senior monogram winner who has been exemplary as both a student and leader.

Ogbuokiri (pronounced og-BOH-kuh-ree) made a name for herself at Notre Dame individually in the 400 meters and as part of the Irish sprint relay units. She qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional in the 400 meters during her final three seasons (2005-07), advancing on to the ’05 NCAA Outdoor Championships where she finished 19th overall during the qualifying heats. This past season, she also was a member of Notre Dame’s regional-qualifying 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays, although neither quartet raced at the Mideast Regional due to injuries. Ogbuokiri also was especially strong at the BIG EAST level, placing second in program history with 12 all-conference citations, including six outdoor BIG EAST honors. What’s more, she won four BIG EAST titles, participating on three relay winners, while also claiming the 2005 BIG EAST indoor 400-meter crown.

In the classroom, Ogbuokiri was equally stellar, graduating last month from the Mendoza College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and sociology. A three-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team selection, she also played a prominent role on Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), serving as the women’s track & field representative to that board for two years. In addition, she earned certification from Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Leadership Institute during her senior year.

The Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards honor undergraduate students of color who have made achieving both academically and athletically a winning combination. Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe Jr.’s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, award winners must exhibit academic excellence and community activism, in addition to their athletic ability. To be included, nominees must compete in an intercollegiate sport; maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2; and be active on their campuses or in their communities.

— ND —