Irish make successful run at Stanford Invitational
By NOAH AMSTADTER
Senior Staff Writer
When Ryan Shay and three other members of the Notre Dame distance squad headed to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Stanford Invitational last weekend they had two goals in mind — competing well against an elite field of runners and posting qualifying times for the NCAA Championships.
Both missions were accomplished. Shay, last year's NCAA Champion in the 10,000-meters, took second in his event but was the first collegiate runner to cross the line in an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 28 minutes, 39.1 seconds. Senior Luke Watson broke Shay's school record in the 5,000-meters, finishing sixth — third among collegiate runners — in 13:44.92.
Sophomore Todd Mobley also posted an NCAA provisional qualifying time in the 10,000-meters, finishing 21st with a time of 29:11.35.
Shay was happy with his performance, which was the best posted in the event nationally by a collegiate runner so far this season. But both Shay and Irish head coach Joe Piane stressed that if it were a more important meet, Shay would have pushed harder toward the top finisher, Chris Graff of the Nike Farm Team.
"I was contemplating whether or not to go with him," Shay said. "But my goal at that race was just to get qualified. I didn't really want to get into a highly competitive mode ... He wasn't a collegiate so I wasn't really too worried about him. If he was a collegiate, I would have went after him."
"If you run that race again and it was the finals of the USA Nationals, I'd put my money on Shay," Piane added. "He's just tough. He needed to be the first collegiate and he needed to get qualified for the NCAAs and the USA Nationals. He did that without a doubt."
Watson's automatic qualifying time in the 5,000-meters eclipsed the mark Shay set last year at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., when Shay finished in sixth place with a time of 13:52.45.
"I'm going to try to get it back from him at Mount Sac," Shay said of the record, indicating he plans to run the event at the California meet later this month. "But he has another year so I doubt even if I do get it I doubt it'll hold for very long.
Both Piane and Shay were impressed with Mobley's effort in the 10,000-meters, where he set a personal best by nearly one minute.
"Some years we'd have been jumping in the streets at 29:11, but when you've got a guy that's running 28:39, he's beating him by half a lap," Piane said. "Mobley's doing a great job, especially for a guy that's only a sophomore."
"It was the first race of that caliber he's ever really been in," Shay added. "He took a minute off of his time. It just shows that he's been working hard since last summer."
Also competing at Stanford were sophomore David Alber and junior John Keane in the 5,000-meters. Keane set a personal record by 24 seconds, placing 13th in the section three race with a time of 14:35.56.
While Alber didn't match his best indoor time, he did cross the two-mile mark at 9:10, 10 seconds better than his best high school time in the two-mile race.
The Irish also sent a group of runners to the Purdue Invitational on Saturday, a meet senior high jumper Quill Redwine remembers as taking place in challenging conditions.
"That was my first time ever seeing snow on the track as I was jumping," Redwine said. "The wind was really a big burden to pretty much everybody. The wind dropped the temperatures ... The wind picked up a lot as the day went on, the temperature dropped a lot too."
Despite competing nearly all day wearing sweats, Redwine posted a top jump of 6 feet, 8 inches to tie for second place.
"Quill got off to a good start in the high jump," said field events coach Scott Winsor, who indicated Redwine's best jumps could come later in the month when his workouts are less intense. "I've been pounding him pretty good. I've been doing a lot more volume running, a lot more bounding and plyometrics."
While Redwine delivered a solid veteran performance as expected, a group of younger Irish runners also put up impressive marks at Purdue.
Freshman Selim Nurudeen took second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.6 seconds, while classmate Eric Morrison grabbed third in the 800-meters, posting a 1:53.16 mark. While those marks were somewhat impressive, sprints coach John Millar stressed that at a meet with conditions like those at Purdue, times aren't always as important as how the athletes compete.
"The guys competed well and that's really what I looked at," Millar said. "The times sort of don't mean a lot. I looked at how they competed."
Another freshman who competed well was Trevor McClain in the 400-meters. The 6-foot-6 Ohio native finished seventh in a time of 49.48 seconds, fast enough to possibly earn himself a spot on the Irish mile relay team.
"I think Trevor's shown he's got some ability," Millar said. "He's the kind of guy that by the end of the year hopefully he'll be able to step in there and contribute. Long-term, he's going to be a guy we're going to see more of and count on more."
The Irish compete in their lone home outdoor meet this year on Saturday when they host the Spring Opener at Moose Krause Stadium.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, April 3, 2002