May 26, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Senior All-American Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y./Notre Dame) continued her dominance at the NCAA regional level, winning her third 5,000-meter title in the past four years to help Notre Dame take a one-point lead after day one of the NCAA Mideast Regional, which opened Friday in Knoxville, Tenn. The Irish have amassed 19 points and hold a slim edge over Alabama (18), with Akron (16), Purdue (16) and Michigan (14) rounding out the top five.
Huddle covered the 5,000-meter distance in 16:24.51, defeating Michigan’s Erin Webster by nearly a second (16:25.48) to pick up 10 team points for Notre Dame and add this year’s championship to those she previously won in 2003 and 2004 (she red-shirted the 2005 outdoor season with a foot injury). Senior All-America teammate Stephanie Madia (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) wasn’t far off Huddle’s pace, finishing fifth in 16:41.80 to earn four team points. As top-five finishers in the event, both Huddle and Madia will advance to the NCAA Championships, to be held June 7-10 in Sacramento, Calif. Huddle is a two-time outdoor All-American in the 5,000 meters (2003, 2004), while Madia garnered similar accolades in that race last year.
Senior high jumper Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishops Luers) will join her teammates at the national meet, placing fifth in the high jump at regionals with a top clearance of 5-9.25 (1.76 meters), the exact same height she reached at last year’s Mideast for Regional en route to an NCAA finals berth. Loomis actually was one of nine athletes to tie for second place at that particular height, but because she missed on more attempts at an earlier heights (1.71m), she dropped to fifth. Then, she advanced to nationals after she cleared the 1.76-meter bar on her first try, while every other remaining competitor missed on their first attempt. Loomis also garnered four team points for the Irish with her fifth-place showing.
Senior Laura Huarte (Shingle Springs, Calif./St. Francis) did not advance to the NCAA finals, but did pick up a point for Notre Dame in the team standings with her eighth-place finish in the javelin. Huarte, who ended her career at the regional, turned in a toss of 149-6 (45.56 meters) at the competition. Last month at the Mount SAC Relays, Huarte set a school record with a heave of 47.00 meters (also meeting the “B” qualification standard for the USATF Championships on June 23-25 in Indianapolis).
On the men’s side, no Notre Dame athletes scored team points for the Irish. However, junior Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s) did advance out of his preliminary heat in the 800-meter run, finishing third overall and first in his section with a time of 1:49.60. Sophomore John Cavanaugh (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) nearly joined him in the 800-meter final, finishing 11th in 1:50.61, just 0.33 seconds off the cut line for the finals. The 800-meter final will be run Saturday at 6:15 p.m. (ET).
The second and final day of the NCAA Mideast Regional will take place Saturday, with notable Irish competitors including Huddle and Madia in the women’s 1,500-meter run (5:20 p.m. ET), followed by junior All-American Kurt Benninger (Chepstow, Ontario/Walkerton D.S.S.) in the men’s 1,500 meters (5:30 p.m.) as well as Chamney’s run.
— ND —