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Two Irish runners earn All-America honors

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Two of the six Irish runners at the NCAA Indoor Championships March 9 and 10 returned as All-Americans. Senior 800-meter runner Thomas Chamney earned his third All-America recognition, placing eighth in the finals with a time of 1:50.74 and scoring the lone Irish point of the meet in Fayetteville, Ark. Junior miler Jake Watson placed 10th in the finals with a time of 4:03.97, garnering his first All-America honor.”He’s thrilled,” Notre Dame coach Joe Piane said of Watson. “To be one of the top ten in the country is pretty incredible.”The All-America recognition goes to the top eight finishers as well as the top eight U.S. citizens. Although Watson finished 10th, he was the eighth American runner to finish. “We knew it driving over that if he finished the race he’d be an All-American,” Piane said. “In the final there were 11 guys, three of whom were foreigners. There was no way he couldn’t be an All-American.”When he earned the honor, Watson joined his older brother Luke, who was a six-time All-American at Notre Dame from 1999 to 2002. This is the first time in Notre Dame’s 117-year track and field history that two siblings have each received All-America honors.Chamney’s road to All-America status was a tough one – he battled sickness before and during the meet.”We think it was the flu,” Piane said. “He was definitely, definitely sick. He ran the trials and was on all fours afterwards.”Chamney ran the 800 in 1:49 – an unusual time for him. “For [Chamney], 1:49 is like you or I going to the cafeteria,” Piane said. “He said he was feeling a lot better on Saturday, but you could see by the 500-meter mark he was struggling a little bit.”Both runners have worked hard to achieve the level of success they’ve enjoyed, but they got there in different ways.”Chamney’s worked hard from the minute he stepped on campus,” Piane said. “Watson had a pretty good freshman year, a good half of sophomore year and then the light just went on.”Piane thought the spark could have come from a good performance during Watson’s sophomore year. “Maybe he just had one good race and then thought, ‘If I work pretty hard, I could be a great one,'” he said.The Irish distance medley relay fell just short of earning All-America status along with Chamney and Watson. The team, composed of junior Adam Currie, senior Ryan Postel, junior John Cavanaugh and senior Todd Ptacek, finished ninth with a time of 9:42.13 – just 0.32 seconds behind Texas, which finished eighth.Ptacek moved from the 1,200-meter segment to the mile segment to replace Watson, and Currie took Ptacek’s place in the 1,200-meter segment.”I wanted to give Watson an opportunity to run totally fresh in the mile,” Piane said. “He would have had to run prelims in the mile and then following that was the distance medley. I don’t think we lost anything by putting Currie on the front. We may have lost a little bit putting Todd on the back. He’s a 4:04 miler, he ran a 4:05. I can’t complain, he did a really good job. We just missed by 18 inches getting four more All-Americans.”