Irish open outdoor season by qualifying for NCAAS
By BRIAN BURKE
The Notre Dame men's and women's track and field teams enjoyed plenty of success over the weekend as seven athletes met either automatic or provisional standards for the NCAA Championships.
Two of those qualifiers were at the Arizona State Invitational, where senior Marshaun West won the long jump with a leap of 25 feet 1 1/4 inches followed by freshman Tom Gilbert, who jumped 23 feet 11 3/4 inches. Senior Phil Mishka placed second in the 800 meters with a time of one minute, 48.01 seconds. Both marks were good for provisional qualifications, meaning the pair has met the minimum mark necessary to run at nationals, but could get edged if other athletes post better numbers before then.
"I think it's a really good start, a PR [personal record] by about a second," Mishka said of his time in the 800. "I wasn't as mentally prepared as I could have been. The race didn't seem fast, I was surprised when I saw [the time]."
Senior Chris Cochran also turned in a strong performance in the 400 meters, finishing fourth with a time of 47.40 seconds.
While none of the women sprinters or jumpers qualified for the NCAAs, they did show there is reason for early season optimism.
Senior Jennifer Engelhardt won the high jump with a leap of 5-foot-8 and 1/2 inches, while freshman Tameisha King's long jump of 20-1 was good for second place. King's long jump shattered Alison Heard's 1996 school record of 18' 10". She also captured fourth in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.23, and sophomore Liz Grow earned second in the 400 meters, running it in 55.09.
In the throws, sophomore Dore DeBartolo placed third in the hammer, breaking her own Notre Dame women's record with a throw of 181' 11".
"We ran well considering it's the first outdoor meet. Some of the performances are ahead of where we were at this time last year," assistant coach John Millar said. "Our [men's] 4x100 [relay] finished fifth but just missed the school record. It wasn't pretty with the passes, but there's potential there."
At the Stanford Invitational, the Irish distance runners had a stellar weekend with one automatic and four provisional qualifiers.
Junior Ryan Shay earned the automatic bid to the national championships by running 28:50.73 in the 10,000 meters, while sophomore Marc Striowski also qualified provisionally in that race with a time of 29:53. In the 3,000 meter steeplechase Luke Watson posted an 8:46.98, and senior Antonio Arce ran the 5,000 meters in 14:02, both marks were good for provisional qualifying.
The only woman for the Fighting Irish to notch a provisional time at Stanford was senior Alison Klemmer, who ran the 10,000 meters in 34:30.
"I'm pretty happy with it, the time should get me in [the NCAA Championships]," Klemmer said. "There's room for improvement. I ran much of the race alone and it's easier to run with people."
The remainder of the Irish runners competed at the Purdue Open. On Friday, Junior Crissy Kuenster placed second in the 10,000 meters, finishing in 37:56.40.
During the shorter running events on Saturday, two Irish freshman runners established themselves as key parts of the team. Ana Morales finished second in the 800 meters, running an impressive time of 2:19.98 coming out of a slow second heat. Kymia Love also placed second in the 400, finishing in 57.29 seconds.
The Irish host Miami (Ohio), Butler, and Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon.
All Sports Stories for Monday, March 27, 2000