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Relay team locks up Big East title

Jay Fitzpatrick | Monday, February 19, 2007

Once again, Notre Dame stands atop the Big East, winning the men’s championship and finishing second at the conference indoor meet in the women’s division this weekend in Miami, Ohio.

On the men’s side, the Irish had outright wins in just two events – the 800 meter dash and the 4×800 meter relay. In the 800, senior Thomas Chamney won in 1:51.76, setting the pace throughout the race.

“He looked very dominant in the prelims and he just controlled the race in the finals,” Irish coach Joe Piane said.

Chamney competed with juniors John Cavanaugh, Brett Adams and Adam Currie in the 4×800 victory, and he ran the anchor leg of the relay in around 1:50, Piane said, to cement Notre Dame’s win.

“He certainly ran a very nice anchor leg,” Piane said. “It was a wonderful team performance across the board.”

Even though the two victory were important to the Irish title, Piane was most impressed with Notre Dame’s ability to perform well in important events, especially in the field.

“I think that would be the success of the field events because we had to get some help in the field events and we did,” he said. “We got some in the vault, we got some in the high jump.”

Freshman jumper Eric Quick entered the Big East meet as the No. 7 seed in the triple jump. Quick rose to the occasion and scaled 14.86 meters to finish second in the event.

Senior Christopher Jacques also exceeded expectations, clearing 2.06 meters in the high jump for a personal-best and second place finish.

In the throws, Irish senior Garet Koxlien set a Notre Dame record in the weight throw with his toss of 18.77 meters. The previous mark was set by Matt Thompson in the 2000 Alex Wilson Invitational.

“We had a lot of kids perform above our expectations,” Piane said. “We had a lot of guys perform very, very well.”

Notre Dame’s distance team ran well again, especially in the 1,000 meter run. Junior Adam Currie (2:26.65, 4th place) led the Irish contingent, followed by senior Todd Ptacek (2:27.22, 6th place) and freshman Blake Choplin (2:27.31, 8th place) and Jim Notwell (2:32.20, 9th place).

Junior Jake Watson earned all-conference honors in the mile with a third-place finish in 4:05.30.

Because of Notre Dame’s success this season, the Irish men’s coaches were named Big East coaching staff of the year. Along with Piane, assistant coaches Tim Connelly, John Millar, Scott Winsor and B.J. Linnenbrink were honored.

“I like the idea that the Big East calls it staff of the year not coach of the year because everyone on the staff contributed to our victory,” Piane said. “I’m thrilled for everyone on the staff.”

Notre Dame came close to a season sweep of the Big East indoor championships, but the women’s team fell 10 points short of Georgetown. The Irish finished second behind the Hoyas, 112-102.

“When you’re scoring that many points, eleven points isn’t that much,” Piane said.

The Irish women did not win any individual honors this weekend, but did place second in three events. In the triple jump, senior Cassie Gullickson set a personal-best with a score of 12.33 meters. Sophomores Mary Saxer and Kate Mattoon placed second and third, respectively, in the pole vault with scores of 3.86 and 3.60 meters.

One highlight was the performance of thrower Anna Weber. Weber tossed the 20 pound weight a school-record 17.35 meters, and followed that with a 13.94 toss of the shot put – for fifth place in that event.

“[Weber] did a great job in the 20 pounds weight. She probably did a little better job than it said on the form chart,” Piane said. “The women field events did a really, really good job.”

Notre Dame’s final second-place finish was in the 4X400 relay, manned by seniors Maryann Erigha and Okechi Ogbuokiri, junior Crysta Swayzer and freshman Joanna Schultz. Erigha ran the first leg of the race while Ogbuokiri finished it off with the anchor leg.

In the distance events, Notre Dame senior Amy Kohlmeier finished third in the 3,000 meter run with a time of 9:32.67 to garner all-Big East honors.

Overall, Piane was impressed with the women’s team’s performance in the Big East championships.

“The women did a great job. If you looked at the form chart, they probably should have been third or fourth, but they competed very, very well,” he said.