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ND WOMEN’S TRACK: Connelly impressed by effort

Ryan Kiefer | Monday, February 7, 2005

They won only one event – nine fewer than a week ago.

In many ways, however, this weekend’s Meyo Invitational may have been a more successful meet for the Irish.

In an event stacked with four top-25 teams, Notre Dame was very competitive, achieving several personal bests and gaining valuable experience.

The lone winner for the Irish was Maryanne Erigha who took the 200 meters in a time of 23.85 seconds.

Her time places her in the top 10 among all collegians in this event. Erigha also took third in the 60-meter dash.

The Irish achieved several qualifying times for the Big East and NCAA Champion-ships. In the 400-meter dash, Notre Dame finished 2-3 as sophomores Okechi Ogbuokiri and Tiffany Gunn both hit the NCAA provisional qualifying time.

A quartet of Irish runners attained Big East qualifications in the 3,000 meters. Sunni Olding (eighth), Stephanie Madia (15th), Amy Kohlmeier (23rd) and Elizabeth Webster (26th) all finished the race in less than 10 minutes.

Irish coach Tim Connelly was especially impressed with Olding’s effort.

“Sunni was very composed,” he said.

“It was her first race at that distance, and it was not an easy race to run fast in, as it was very crowded. She showed a lot of maturity.”

Connelly also was impressed by the youngest of the Irish athletes. In the 1,000 meters, sophomore Brianne Schmidt and freshmen Jacqueline Carter and Mary Debevec all ran personal best times.

“Those three ran well. They were able to double, running the 1,000 Friday night and the 800 Saturday afternoon,” Connelly said.

“This is excellent preparation for the Big East meet when they will have to run prelims and finals in the same weekend.”

The field events were highlighted by Stacey Cowan’s second-place finish in the high jump. Georgia Tech’s Chaunte Howard, considered the best high jumper in the country, was the only athlete to clear a height higher than Cowan’s 1.70 meters.

Petra Dankova finished fifth in the triple jump with a distance of 12.20 meters and qualifying for the Big East meet. Meghan Horn took fifth place in the shot put competition, throwing a season-best distance of 13.97 meters.

With the Big East Championships only two weeks away, many runners will be taking next weekend off to rest, while those who are just short of the qualifying times look to hit the time at next weekend’s Windsor Team Challenge. Connelly kept his team’s goals in perspective in the early stages of the season.

“We need to continue to learn how to run races,” Connelly said.

“We need to learn to deal with different tracks, large crowded races and other scenarios that may arise. We’ll be able to do that as the season continues.”