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TRACK AND FIELD: Both teams take second in Big East

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thanks in part to stellar performances from sprinters Selim Nurudeen and Maryann Erigha, the Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams both finished second at the Big East Championships May 5-8 in Piscataway, N.J. Rutgers won the men’s title, besting Notre Dame 192-143.5, while Pittsburgh took home the women’s trophy by totaling 176 points compared to Notre Dame’s 113.5. Assistant coach Tim Connelly said the result, while disappointing, was not unexpected.”You’re never happy with second place, but when we looked at it, we saw that that was probably going to happen,” Connelly said. “[Rutgers and Pittsburgh] are very good. They’re talented and very deep.”According to Connelly, the Irish needed to step up across the board to compete with the Scarlet Knights and Panthers. Unfortunately, while some athletes recorded personal bests, the team as a whole had a typical meet. “A couple people ran awesome meets, but most of the team was pretty much average,” the coach said. Connelly said the Irish may have been tired following a grueling exam week.”I think just having exams hurt us,” he said. “Exams are tough, you really beat yourself up. I think our team is more tired after exams than during study days.”Despite Connelly’s disappointment, the Irish competed well at the meet. They finished 26.5 points ahead of third place Pittsburgh in the men’s competition and 31.5 points ahead of third place West Virginia in the women’s division.Leading the way for the Irish men was star sprinter Nurudeen, who won the 110 meter hurdles championship for the fourth time in his career with a time of 13.65 seconds, his best mark this season.Erigha turned in her usual impressive performance for the women, winning the 100 meters and finishing second in the 200. “She’s just a great sprinter,” Connelly said. Another important event for the Irish was the men’s hammer throw, where Chip Roberts, Kyle Annen and Garet Koxlien all finished in the top six and earned a combined 19 points.Notre Dame dominated the men’s steeplechase, where Ryan Johnson finished first, followed closely by Irish runners Jake Watson and Todd Ptacek.The Irish distance runners showed their strength in the men’s 10,000 meters, scoring 13 points by placing four runners in the top eight. Kaleb Van Ort paced the Irish with a third place finish. The 192 points scored by the Rutgers men tied a Big East record, matching Connecticut’s total in 2002. The Pittsburgh women almost set a record of their own, finishing one point behind Villanova’s 1984 record of 177 points. Next up for the Irish is the Georgia Tech Invitational today in Atlanta, a tune-up for the NCAA regionals May 27 and 28.