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Both teams earn top-three finishes

Mike Gilloon | Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Four champs and a third title.  That’s what the Irish men’s track and field team achieved last weekend by winning the Big East Outdoor Champion-ships at Rutgers. Selim Nurudeen, Godwin Mbagwu, Ryan Johnson and Ryan Postel all won individual titles to lead Notre Dame as they bested host Rutgers 172.5 to 160.5. This is the first time the men have ever won back-to-back titles in either the indoor or outdoor meets. The win also gives the Irish three straight Big East Championships, including their indoor title earlier this year. The Notre Dame women capped yet another strong conference meet with a third-place finish behind Pittsburgh and champion Miami. Molly Huddle ran at her usual championship pace to win the 5,000 meters for the second straight year.Laura Huarte captured her first individual Big East title as she won the pole vault by clearing a height of 3.75 meters. The women recovered for a respectable finish as they were back in seventh place at the end of the first day. The greatest asset for the men was their depth as they finished second in five events and placed in every event but the 100-meter dash, pole vault and shot put. Mbagwu provided the highlight of the meet for Notre Dame as he was named the Most Outstanding Field Performer. Mbagwu won the long jump and finished second in the triple jump in his final conference championship. He is the first Irish athlete to score in both of those events at the same conference championship and his long jump covered 7.68 meters for the seventh-best outdoor long jump in school history.Nurudeen added to his crowded trophy case by winning the 110-meter hurdles in 13.91 seconds for the third straight year. His victory in the indoor 60-meter hurdles makes him the first Notre Dame hurdler to sweep both events in the same season. The win in the 110-meter hurdles combined with his finishes in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay gave him four all-Big East honors.Ryan Postel won his first Big East title with his 47.22-second time in the 400 meters. Postel joined Nurudeen, Ryan Hurd and Tommie Lee to finish second in the 800-meter relay and Nurudeen, Trevor McClain-Duer and Napoleon Suarez for another second in the 1,600-meter relay. Suarez also finished second in the 400-meter hurdles after finishing third in last year’s outdoor meet.  The 3,200-meter relay team consisting of Thomas Chamney, Kurt Benninger, Eric Morrison and Kevin Somok also finished second. Benninger added to his All-Big East honors later on in the 1500-meters with a second-place finish. Ryan Johnson won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:08.64 to give him the first individual title of his career.