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MEN’S TRACK: Benninger sets new 5K record

John Everett | Wednesday, March 30, 2005

While most students were celebrating the Easter holiday and the four-day weekend it provided, the Irish were giving themselves other reasons to be joyful while competing in two separate meets in different areas of the country. The most exciting performance by a Notre Dame runner was at the Stanford Invitational, where sophomore Kurt Benninger not only broke the Notre Dame record in the 5,000 meters, but also recorded the third-fastest time worldwide in the event this year. Benninger’s time of 13 minutes, 33.05 seconds was made even more incredible by the fact that it was the first time he had run the 5,000 meters. Benninger won the race with a six-second cushion over his nearest competitor and broke Luke Watson’s old Notre Dame record by two seconds.Head Coach Joe Piane was understandably impressed. “It was wonderful. He was under control the whole time. He ran the first two miles in 4:24 each and then ran the third in 4:12,” Piane said. The 5,000-meter run is equivalent to roughly 3.1 miles. In addition to Benninger, the Irish men saw several others attain NCAA regional qualifying marks at the Stanford meet. Kaleb Van Ort won the 10,000 meters in 28:59.35. Tim Moore and Todd Mobley finished behind Van Ort in the 10,000 but also posted times that qualified for the regional meet. Todd Ptacek and Ryan Johnson also qualified for the 3,000-meter steeplechase.Senior Selim Nurudeen got a rare opportunity for a student-athlete – the chance to go home over Easter break as he competed in the Dr. Pepper Invitational at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Nurudeen,who is from Friendswood, Texas, won the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.92 seconds and finished third in the 200-meter dash in 21.53.Coach Piane said that he was satisfied with the number of qualifying times his team achieved this weekend, but stressed that there was work to be done, saying that he hoped the team would qualify around 25 athletes for the regionals. He was, however, pleased with what he saw this weekend. “There were a lot of guys that ran well – it was a very exciting day,” he said.Friday and Saturday the Irish will be competing at the Indiana Relays in Bloomington on the campus of Indiana University.