May 5, 2002
The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up competition at the 2002 BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Storrs, Conn., on Sunday afternoon. The women earned their highest-ever finish at the conference outdoor meet, finishing second with 110 points (Miami won the women’s title with 150 points). The men’s team came in third place (99 points) behind Connecticut (192 points) and Georgetown (106 points).
Liz Grow provided the highlights for the women’s team on Sunday, earning the 2002 Female Most Outstanding Track Performer title with an individual and relay victory. Grow is the first Notre Dame women’s track and field athlete to earn the conference most outstanding track performer award. She began the day with an easy victory in the 400 meters, taking first in 52.05. That time was .25 seconds lower than the previous meet record, which was set in 1993.
Grow also ran the key leg of the 4×100 relay which finished first. She took the baton from Tameisha King, then handed off to Ayesha Boyd. Kristen Dodd finished off the race and posted a team time of 44.77 – a new meet record and a sign that the relay is starting to come together at a key stretch in the season.
Ayesha Boyd earned all-BIG EAST honors for the second time in her career by taking third in the 100 meters. Her 11.65 time is a season-best for the Irish sophomore, who finished second in the 200 meters at the BIG EAST indoor meet. Boyd also competed in the 200 meters at the outdoor meet on Sunday, finishing fifth in 23.95.
Lauren King nabbed all-BIG EAST honors for herself in the first conference outdoor championship of her career. The Irish freshman finished second, behind senior Lorena Adams from Georgetown, in 4:21.10 (a season-best time). Teammate Megan Johnson was not far behind in fifth place (4:24.80 – another season-best time).
Freshman high jumper Emily Loomis returned to conference action on Sunday. Loomis, eligible for the outdoor meet after earning all-BIG EAST honors at the indoor meet, made the most of her first outdoor jumps of the season. Her 5-7 clearance earned her third place and all-BIG EAST honors, scoring 5.5 points toward the team total. Jennifer Kearney (fifth) and Betsy Lazzeri (eighth) also scored points for the Irish in the high jump.
Other top finishes for the women on Sunday included Tameisha King (fifth in the long jump and seventh in the 100-meter hurdles), Jennifer Handley (eighth in the 5,000 meters), Tiffany Gunn (seventh in the 400-meter hurdles) and the 4×400 relay team of Kymia Love, Dodd, Boyd and Grow (fourth place, 3:38.03).
The men’s team was led throughout the meet by its distance group, benchmarked by the duo of Luke Watson and Ryan Shay. Watson won the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday and cemented his status as the 2002 Male Most Outstanding Outdoor Track Performer with a victory in the 5,000 meters on Sunday. His 13:59.38 time put him about six seconds ahead of Shay, who finished second (after winning his third consecutive 10,000-meter title on Saturday).
Rookie Selim Nurudeen claimed the other individual victory for the team on Sunday, following up a stellar preliminary race with a first-place effort (14.31) in the 110-meter hurdles. It is the first BIG EAST Conference individual title for the Friendswood, Texas, native. Mark Barber also scored for the Irish in the event, taking seventh place (15.27).
Notre Dame’s addition scoring finishes for the men’s team on Sunday included Eric Morrison in the 800 meters (seventh, 1:51.33), Napolean Suarez in the 400-meter hurdles (seventh, 53.49), Josh Heck in the pole vault (sixth, 15-3) and Juan Alba in the hammer throw (eighth, 171-8).
The third place finish by the men’s team marks the sixth time in the last seven years that the Irish have been in the top three at the outdoor meet. Luke Watson joins Marshaun West (1999) and Jason Rexing (1996) as the third Notre Dame athlete to be named the men’s outstanding track performer.
The outdoor season is not over for many Irish competitors. The NCAA Track and Field Championships begin on May 29, in Baton Rouge, La., and a number of Irish athletes have already established qualifying times for the meet. Ryan Shay, Luke Watson, Liz Grow and the 4×100 relay team are some of the Irish representatives who will be making an appearance at the national championship meet.