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Notre Dame set to host last meet of the season

Mike Gilloon | Thursday, March 4, 2004

Just one. That is how many more chances the members of the Notre Dame Track and Field team have to qualify for next week’s NCAA Championships as they enter this weekend’s Alex Wilson Invitational. The annual Invitational will begin tonight at 6 p.m. at the Loftus Sports Center and competition will resume Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. with the women’s triple jump. Notre Dame has already qualified athletes in eight events, but many more Irish runners, jumpers and throwers are close to qualifying for Nationals. In an interview last week, assistant coach Tim Connelly discussed his expectations for the meet. “We hope to do a little fine tuning at the Alex Wilson,” he said. “We want to get a bunch of NCAA qualifiers.” Headlining the list of current qualifiers for the Irish is distance runner Molly Huddle. The sophomore is coming off a victory in the 5,000 meters at last week’s Big East Championships and is currently qualified for the NCAAs in both the 5,000 and 3,000 meters. Juniors Lauren King and Kerry Meagher have qualified for the National Championships in the mile run to make the women’s distance runners one of the strongest areas of the team. King is a returning All-American; she finished seventh in last year’s mile run. Her best time this year is 4 minutes, 42.98 seconds, while Meagher is not far behind with a 4:45.98.The women’s distance medley relay team is also qualified for Nationals as they have turned in a time of 11:07.94, currently fourth nationally and second in the Big East. The other member of the women’s team who has already qualified is high jumper Stacy Cowan. The sophomore is presently ranked 12th nationally as she has cleared a height of 1.78 meters. The men’s team is led by sprinter Selim Nurudeen. The junior qualified for Nationals last week in the 60-meter hurdles in a conference championship time of 7.79. Like the women, the men have also qualified their distance medley relay team. The team, consisting of Ryan Postel, Thomas Chamney, Eric Morrison and Kurt Benninger has posted a time of 9:45.33 to rank 17th nationally. Morrison and Benninger are also qualified in the mile run. They are ranked second and third in the Big East, with times of 4:02.80 and 4:03.67, respectively. Topping the list of Irish athletes not yet qualified is triple jumper Godwin Mbagwu. The senior has jumped 15.31 meters this year and needs to improve his distance by .29 meters to qualify. Sophomore Ryan Postel is also close to the qualifying time in the 400 meters as he needs to drop his mark by a few tenths of a second. A number of women’s sprinters are also very close to qualifying. Seniors Ayesha Boyd and Kristen Dodd along with freshman Maryann Erigha are just a bit off the mark in the 60 meters. Dodd also can qualify for the 200 meters by dropping her time from 24.42 to 24.20.