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Benninger blazes through strong field in 3,000 meters

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 31, 2005

It was a day for great personal accomplishment Saturday, as the Irish welcomed Grand Valley State, Marquette, Michigan State, Loyola Chicago, DePaul and Butler to the Loftus Sports Center for the Notre Dame Indoor Invitational Meet. In a non-scoring meet, the men’s team won seven events while the Irish women took 10.

Sophomore Kurt Benninger stole the show, winning the 3,000 meters with the fastest time in the NCAA, 7 minutes, 59.39 seconds. Benninger’s great race not only qualified him for the NCAA Championships, but was only the fourth time an Irish athlete has broken the eight-minute mark in the 3,000.

“I was really happy to break eight minutes,” Benninger said. “Hopefully my time stands up for the NCAA [Championships], but I just have to let the rest of the season go as it may.”

Fellow teammates and spectators watched as Benninger separated himself from the pack early on, running 68-second quarter-mile splits from the beginning of the race to the end, and simply never looked back.

Benninger looks to become the third Notre Dame runner in history to run a sub-four-minute mile next Satur-day in the Meyo Mile at Loftus.

“As a team we ran very well. All of the guys really stepped up their focus and intensity and we had a very good meet,” Benninger said.

Senior Selim Nurudeen continued his impressive career, again coming in first place in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.86 seconds. The senior stalwart came only .01 seconds short from claiming first in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.85 seconds.

Multiple true freshmen also performed very well. Running in the 800 meters for the first time in his career, Adam Currie won the event with a time of 1:50.29, threatening the qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships in the process and putting himself in the mix to be one of the top contenders for the Big East title.

Fellow freshman Jamal Afridi qualified for the Big East Champion-ships in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:55.08.

“The meet was a great tune-up for next week’s Meyo Invitational,” Afridi said, “[That] will really show us where our training is at against some of the best schools in the nation.”

The Irish will host the Meyo Invitational Friday and Saturday, with events beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.