Irish run strong against top competition at Meyo Invite
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Assistant Sports Editor
The Irish nipped the heels of America's great track and field athletes, running to tight finishes against veterans from the 1999 NCAA championships in this weekend's Meyo Invitational in the Loftus Center.
Notre Dame's distance medley relay team of Phil Mishka, Chris Cochran, Tim Kober and Luke Watson raced to a second-place finish in Friday night's competition. Finishing in nine minutes, 43.78 seconds, Notre Dame was less than a second behind Alabama, a team which placed fourth in the NCAA championships a season ago and set a new meet record this weekend.
"That distance medley was terrific," head track and field coach Joe Piane said. "That was a great race."
Notre Dame posted the third-fastest distance medley time in the nation this year, recording provisional qualifying marks for nationals.
"With the relay, we all went out and ran really well," Cochran said. "We're third in the nation right now. Hopefully that will allow us to get into the NCAAs."
Mishka added a top-notch individual performance on Saturday, placing second in the 800-meter run to returning NCAA champion Derrick Peterson of Missouri. Both ran NCAA qualifying times, with Peterson finishing in 1:48.26 and Mishka in 1:48.57.
"I've got to say, I was pretty excited about it," Mishka said. "It's not only an indoors personal record, but a record overall.
"I thought I was going to get him until he went by me with about 80 meters to go," Mishka added. "I tried to throw in another surge at the end, but he's just too good."
Mishka's time was a career best.
"He ran a marvelous race," Piane said, "And that time would get him into the NCAAs."
Cochran was another two-event star, taking second in the 400-meter run to Alabama's Cori Loving. Cochran's time was just two-hundredths off Bobby Brown's school record.
Other top races among the sprint and middle-distance events were the men's and women's 500-meter run, the women's 400-meter run and the men's 200-meter run.
Junior Terry Wray and senior Tim Kober provided a one-two punch in the 500.
"That was the best race I've ever had here," Wray said after winning the 500. "That was a PR [personal record]. That's the biggest thing I can concentrate on for scoring at the Big East."
Junior Carri Lenz placed second in the women's 500 in a time of 1:15.5.
Sophomore Liz Grow took second in the 400 to Faye Williams of Etobicoke. Grow's time of :54.68 earned her a provisional spot in the NCAA championships.
Tom Gilbert performed well for the men in the 200.
"Tom Gilbert in the 200 is just improving every week," sprints coach John Millar said.
Freshmen Tameisha King and Kymia Love are coming on strong in the hurdles.
"I think Tameisha King is starting to come around a little bit in the hurdles and show what she's capable of," Millar said. "Kymia Love — she's starting to show the promise that we're hoping to see out of her."
King qualified for the finals in the 60-meter hurdles, but did not run due to a sore hamstring.
The Irish did not fare as well in the distance events, with the lone victory coming from Brian Holinka in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:27.49. Watson competed in the star-studded Meyo Mile, and met provisional times to qualify for the NCAA championships.
The 3,000-meter runs saw two new meet and track records set.
In the men's competition, Alabama's Tim Broe set a new meet and track record with an automatic qualifying NCAA time of 7:55.41. For the women, former Valparaiso standout Collette Liss finished in 8:58.47, with her nearest competitor 25 seconds behind.
"We've got to improve the distance end in both the women's side and the men's side," Piane said.
The Irish women took home victories in nearly every field event.
Sophomore Dore DeBartolo established a new Notre Dame record in the 20-pound weight throw. She won the event with her hurl of 56 feet and a half inch.
"I was really excited about it," DeBartolo said, "Because that was my best performance of my whole career and I hadn't even thrown really well this whole year. It was a huge improvement over last week, and it kind of took me by surprise."
King is making winning a habit, as she once again was victorious in the long jump.
"Tameisha King is getting very consistent right around 19-2, 19-3," Winsor said. "She's capable of doing much better than just scoring in the Big East."
Irish pole-vaulters Jamie Volkmer and Natalie Hallett earned first and second in their events. Both tied the school record of 11-0, but Volkmer cleared the bar with fewer attempts to win.
Senior All-American Jen Engelhardt won the meet in the high jump, despite a lower-than-normal mark.
"Jenni was a little under the weather for this meet, and we also worked hard in bounding and plyometrics this week," Winsor said, "So I wasn't really surprised that she didn't jump as well as normal. But she still won the meet."
Angela Patrizio and Krisa Diaz took second and third in the triple jump for Notre Dame, falling to Missouri's Lindsey Miller.
For the men, the field events were not the strong point, as they did not win a single contest. Quill Redwine did double duty with the high jump and triple jump, while Gilbert competed well in the long jump.
"In the long jump — again Tom Gilbert did a fine job," Winsor said. "He's doing a great job. I think he's getting ready to bust a big one."
The Irish could not get a top finish in the throwing events.
"We've got a lot of work to do on the throws," Winsor said. "Our throws quite honestly are not where I think they should be. In the shot put, we've got to work on our technique."
The track and field team will send a limited number of sprinters and field events specialists to the Butler Invitational this weekend. The remainder of the squad will sit out in preparation for the Big East Invitational.
All Sports Stories for Monday, February 7, 2000