Irish break records as they set tone for strong season
By DAVE COOK
Records continued to fall for the Notre Dame women's track and field team as it completed its second weekend of the outdoor season. Sending three separate squads to Stanford, Florida and Purdue, the team carried its indoor season success into the outdoor season as more personal records and school records were broken.
Setting the tone for the weekend were Jen Fibuch, Jen Handley, Megan Johnson and Lauren King, who traveled to Stanford to compete against some of the best distance runners in the nation. For all four girls, it was their first meet of the outdoor season, and three of them came away with personal records.
"It was a really good race for all of them," said Tim Connelly, the women's distance coach. "They all did a great job ... They ran really well against great competition."
Racing in the 5000-meter run were juniors Fibuch and Handley. Both girls set new personal records in the 5000, with Handley breaking her old record by 12 seconds and completing the race in a time of 16 minutes, 28.55 seconds.
Johnson and King competed in the 1500-meter run, where King broke her old personal record. King also broke the school record in the 1500, previously held by Johnson who set the record in 2001 as a freshman. Her ninth-place time of 4:22.89 provisionally qualifies King for the NCAA outdoor championships in May.
"It was a good provisional," Connelly said. "She'll run faster than that later this year, but it was a good provisional."
Johnson finished the race in 4:28.40 and took 15th.
Six girls made the trip to Gainesville, Fla., for the Florida Relays to survey the best sprinting competition in the nation. Liz Grow, Kymia Love, Kristen Dodd, Ayesha Boyd, Betsy Lazzeri and Tameisha King each competed in four events.
The 4x100-meter relay team had the most impressive race of the meet, finishing in third place. The relay team consisted of Grow, King, Dodd and Boyd. It was the first time the four raced this year.
"Our team did really well," said John Millar, the sprinting coach. "We beat a lot of good schools like Florida State and Georgia Tech who have been running outdoors year-round. I think from that I felt really good about where we were. We're only two-tenths of a second off of where we were last year."
King also had a strong start to her outdoor season in the long jump, jumping more than 20 feet in her three jumps for a strong finish.
"This gives her a place to start as she continues to improve," Millar said. "She's way ahead of where she was indoors, and for the first meet outdoors she's in good position. It shows she's capable of jumping a lot further."
Rounding out the Florida squad were the mile relay team and Lazzeri in the heptathlon. Lazzeri left for the meet early to compete in the heptathlon, where she set a new school record of 4,463 points, good enough for a 10th-place finish.
With those girls traveling to Stanford and Florida, most of the team was at the Purdue Invitational where about 70 Notre Dame male and female athletes went to compete. Unfortunately for the Irish, the 13 teams there was not the only adversity they faced. Violent storms on Friday resulted in postponement of the events and chaotic races Saturday.
"It was a really poorly run meet," Connelly said. "The kids who were affected most were the field event kids. The Friday events were cancelled, so they combined everything into Saturday, and they had to compete every three to four hours."
In her inaugural collegiate meet, freshman Kate Duman set a school record in the javelin with a throw of 126 feet, 7 inches. She broke teammate Andre Duplechain's record set last year en route to a second- place finish. Duman, Duplechain and freshman Lauren DellaVolpe all had Big East qualifying throws at the Invitational.
Fellow freshman Katie Wales also had an impressive meet. Her 5000-meter time of 17:45.81 was good enough for a first-place finish, the sole victory for the women at Purdue.
In her first steeplechase run of the year, junior Emily Showman qualified for the Big East meet. Due to snow last week, the Purdue Invitational was the first time that Showman had been over a water jump. Showman ran a fifth-place time of 11:25.36.
With some good weather, the women hope to continue their success in this weekend's Notre Dame Spring Opener. The whole team will be competing at the Invitational, which takes place Saturday at Moose Krause Stadium.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, April 3, 2002