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Outdoor season will open for Irish runners

Mike Gilloon | Friday, March 19, 2004

The Notre Dame track and field team will forego the controlled temperature of the Loftus Center this weekend and head for the dry heat of the desert as they compete in the Baldy Castillo Open in Tempe, Ariz. The competition will be the first meet of the outdoor season for the Irish as the team finished the indoor portion of their schedule last weekend at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Molly Huddle and Kerry Meagher were the only Irish to earn All-America honors at last week’s meet, as Huddle placed third in the 5000-meter run and seventh in the 3000-meter race. Meagher was a seventh-place finisher in the mile run. Megan Johnston, Kristen Dodd, Stacey Cowan and Lauren King also ran last week helping the Irish women to a 21st-place finish. Selim Nurudeen was the sole competitor for the men, as the junior placed 15th in the 60-meter hurdles. Arizona State will host this weekend’s meet and Notre Dame is one of eight Division I schools participating. Among the competition will be Ohio State, Kansas State, George Mason, UC Santa Barbara and Northern Arizona. The field should challenge the Irish as there are a few nationally-ranked competitors. One of the best races should be the women’s mile as Northern Arizona’s Johanna Nilsson goes up against Meagher and King. Nilsson took second-place last week and Meagher and King are expected to give her a close race this weekend. Huddle will also be facing one of her rivals in Northern Arizona’s Ida Nilsson. Nilsson, the sister of Johanna, finished third in the 3000 meters last weekend, four places ahead of Huddle. Irish high jumper Stacey Cowan will try to outleap Kansas State’s Morgan High. High finished three spots behind Cowan last week in 13th place. Nurudeen will have a tough draw in the 60-meter hurdles as he runs against Richard Phillips of George Mason. Phillips placed sixth last week with a time of 7.72 seconds. Nurudeen ran the distance in 7.84 seconds. This is the first of a pair of western road trips for the Irish, as they will head to Palo Alto, Calif., next weekend for the Stanford Invitational. The lone home meet for Notre Dame this outdoor season will be the Spring Opener April 3.