Four Irish Runners Earn Academic All-District Honors

Four Irish Runners Earn Academic All-District Honors

Four Irish Runners Earn Academic All-District Honors
Provided by Notre Dame


Four Irish Runners Earn Academic All-District Honors

Benton Harbor, Mich., native Todd Ptacek adds academic award on eve of appearance in NCAA steeplechase final.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Four members of the Notre Dame track & field program have been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Track/Cross Country Team, it was announced Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Seniors Thomas Chamney (Tipperary, Ireland/St. Columba’s), Todd Ptacek (Benton Harbor, Mich./Lake Michigan Catholic) and Maryann Erigha (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee), along with junior Sunni Olding (Minster, Ohio/Minster), will advance to the national ballot and be placed under consideration for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® Team, which will be selected by a vote of the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Committee later this month.

Chamney earns his second Academic All-District citation in as many years, having gone on to earn a berth on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® Third Team in 2006. The Ireland native recently graduated from the College of Arts and Letters with a bachelor’s degree in English and a 3.56 cumulative grade-point average. On the track, Chamney successfully defended his BIG EAST Conference indoor 800-meter title this year, and went on to earn his third career All-America certificate with an eighth-place finish in the NCAA indoor final. He then advanced to the NCAA Mideast Regional in the 800 meters for the second consecutive year, earning all-region honors after placing seventh in the ’07 Mideast final (he won the ’06 regional title). Chamney closed out his college career as an 11-time all-BIG EAST selection (six outdoors/five indoors) and owner of the school’s outdoor 800-meter record (1:46.82 at a summer 2006 meet in Belgium). He also is in position to become just the second Notre Dame track & field/cross country athlete ever to earn both All-America and Academic All-America® honors in the same season on two separate occasions (Luke Watson was the first to do so in 2002 and 2003).

A first-time Academic All-District choice, Ptacek (pronounced puh-TAY-sick) could follow in Chamney’s footsteps and become the 11th Irish men’s track/cross country athlete in program history to pull off the All-America/Academic All-America® double. Late Wednesday night, he advanced to the finals in the NCAA 3,000-meter steeplechase with a fifth-place finish in his semifinal heat with a personal-best time of 8:41.67 that also was fifth-best in school history. Ptacek will return to the track in Sacramento, Calif., for Friday’s NCAA steeplechase final beginning at 7:10 p.m. PT (10:10 p.m. ET in South Bend), with the race to be broadcast live to a national cable audience by CSTV (College Sports Television).

A five-time all-BIG EAST selection, Ptacek also garnered his first all-region honor with a sixth-place showing in the steeplechase at the NCAA Mideast Regional two weeks ago. Earlier this year, he anchored Notre Dame’s distance medley relay unit that finished ninth at the NCAA Indoor Championships, just missing the top-eight finish needed for All-America honors. The Irish veteran also was a co-captain on the Notre Dame men’s cross country team that was ranked as high as 12th nationally and made the program’s 14th NCAA Championship appearance in the past 17 years (placing 19th overall). Last month, Ptacek graduated from the College of Engineering with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, having compiled a 3.80 cumulative GPA with five Dean’s List citations to his credit.

Erigha picked up her second consecutive Academic All-District honor after collecting second-team laurels a year ago. One of the top sprinters in school history, Erigha qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional in the 200-meter dash each of her four years at Notre Dame, while adding regional qualifications in the 100 meters her final three seasons and racing on two Mideast Regional-qualifying relays (4x100, 4x400) in 2007. In addition, she holds the Irish record for most all-BIG EAST honors (15), as well as indoor (7) and outdoor (8) certificates. The Notre Dame record books are dotted with Erigha’s name, as she owns eight of the top 10 100-meter times and five of the top six 60-meter dash marks in school history. A multiple Dean’s List honoree, she graduated from the College of Arts and Letters last month with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and computer applications, having registered a 3.83 cumulative GPA during her academic career (with perfect a 4.0 GPA in the spring ’06 and spring ’07 semesters).

Olding earned her first Academic All-District award after continuing to add to her reputation as one of the top women’s cross country runners in school history. This year, she was named to the All-Great Lakes Region Team and All-BIG EAST Team for the third time, going on to qualify individually for the NCAA Championship. During the ’06 cross country season, Olding finished in the top 20 five times in six races (all but the NCAA meet), including a successful defense of her National Catholic Championship, making her only the second woman to be a two-time winner since that meet added a women’s division in 1984. A two-time cross country All-American (2004 & 2005), she has been just as stellar in the classroom, posting perfect 4.0 GPA marks in five of her six semesters at Notre Dame, and currently owning a 3.98 cumulative GPA while she pursues a science/pre-professional degree from the College of Science.

— ND —

Chris Masters
Assistant Sports Information Director
University of Notre Dame
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Notre Dame, IN 46556
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