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Track & Field: Irish make statement at Alex Wilson Invite

Jason Galvan | Monday, March 6, 2006

The Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams put on stellar performances this past weekend at the Alex Wilson Invitational, with seven individual Irish athletes qualifying for the NCAA championships to be held Friday in Fayetville, Ark.

The men’s distance medley relay team also met the standard at Loftus Sports Center. In addition, an old school record fell, as sophomore Jacqueline Carter broke a 13-year old mark in the 800-meter run. Carter’s time of 2:08.75 was enough to surpass Erica Peterson’s mark of 2:10.13 set in 1993.

Maryann Erigha (women’s 60-meter and 200-meter), Jacqueline Carter (women’s 800-meter), Thomas Chamney (men’s 800-meter), Amy Kohlmeyer (women’s 3,000-meter), Tim Moore (men’s 3,000-meter) and A.J. Andrassy (men’s 3,000-meter) all met the provisional qualifying standards.

Senior distance runner Stephanie Madia (women’s 5,000-meter) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA championships. In addition, her time of 16:02.14 was enough to break the old record in the women’s 5,000-meter of 16:15.06, set by Wake Forest’s Anne Bersagel in 2003.

“It was just a matter of getting into the right race and running at the level I’ve been training at,” Madia said. “I’m also really proud of our girls, stepping up to the competition and taking ownership of the meet with their fast times.”

Madia was also thankful for the support of her teammates in her own performance. Senior distance runner Molly Huddle set the pace during the 5,000-meter race and helped take some of the burden off of Madia.

“The plan that coach and I talked about just worked, and I was really confident getting the auto bid was a doable goal,” Madia said. “I was very fortunate my teammate Molly Huddle set the pace during the race and took some of the pressure off. Leading takes a lot of energy, and it was great having her there to do it.”

Thomas Chamney ran in the signature event of the Alex Wilson, the men’s 800-meter run. Coming off a dominant first place performance at the Big East meet, Chamney had another solid outing with a second place finish at the Invitational. Despite what he described as a “messy” race, with runners jostling for position, the Irish junior was still able to step up at the end of the race and make a strong finish.

“I had wanted to win it, in front of the home crowd and all, and I was disappointed not getting the auto-bid,” Chamney said. “The way it got messy and how I was boxed in, I was frustrated, but that’s the way racing goes sometimes. I’m still going to the NCAAs, and in hindsight, it all worked out O.K.”

Chamney’s mark of 1:48.62, which he posted at the Meyo Invitational, still stands as the No. 14 time in the nation for the 800-meter run and will be enough for him to make the championship meet. This will be the first time he will be running in an individual event at nationals and, in addition, he also will be competing as a part of the men’s distance medley relay team with Kurt Benninger, Ryan Postel and Adam Currie.

The Irish relay team and squads from Illinois, Villanova, Oral Roberts, Alabama and Washington all met the NCAA provisional standard at the Invitational.

“The Alex Wilson is the premiere setting for the distance medley relay,” Chamney said. “The four of the fastest times in the nation were set here, and after running against some of the best teams, we know where we stand in relation to the others, and have an idea of what we need to do going into nationals.”

The Irish men’s and women’s teams now turn their attention toward the NCAA meet coming up this week and the preparation which goes along with it. But unlike the early season high-intensity training sessions, athletes participating this week at nationals are looking to rest up and stay fresh for the biggest run of the indoor season.

“This week you have to be relaxed as possible,” Chamney said. “Our workouts won’t be tough, I’m just going to stay relaxed, do a tune-up workout, and take it easy.

“I have a full week to recover, I just want to do the little things that help any athlete feel great, like getting enough sleep and staying stretched. Things like that will help keep me ready to go for Friday.”