Ledwith’s third spot in Indiana best display of career

ANDREW LEDWITH turned in the finest performance of his career to date when he finished third in the NCAA championships at Indiana State University yesterday.

The Meath man, a student at Iona College, New York, also had the honour of leading his school to the silver medals behind Oregan in what was a memorable race.

The 10,000m race was won by Galen Rupp in 29 mins 03 secs in a sprint finish with Samuel Chelaga (Liberty) who ended up second in 29:08. Rupp led Oregon to the team title. Ledwith was fourth coming into the finishing straight but sprinted into third place in 29:25 with David Kinsella (Portland) settling for fourth in 29:55.

And there was further good news for the Irish selectors who were meeting last night to complete the team for next month’s European Cross-Country Championships.

David McCarthy from Waterford, a scholarship student with Ray Treacy at Providence College, finished 19th in 20:55. He had already been pre-selected for the under-23 team and he will almost certainly be joined by Leevale’s Ciarán Ó Lionaird (Michigan), who finished 68th in 30:37. Richard Yeates (Providence) was 168th in 31:26.

Hollie Knight (Auburn) who has also been pre-selected for the under-23 women’s team for the European championships, finished 11th in the women’s 6,000m race in 20:12.

The race was won for the third successive year by Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech) in 19:28, with Susan Kuijken (Forida State) second in 19:34 and Tasmin Fanning (Virginia Tech) third in 19:37.

Knight, whose Irish parents live in Devon, England, was in fifth place, 30 seconds behind the winner, with 2,000m to go in the race.

Other Irish placings in the women’s race were Laura Huet (Stony Brook), 21:47, Breffni Twohig (Providence) 21:59 and Ruth Gillespie (Stony Brook) 24:18.

From an Irish viewpoint, however, the day belonged to Ledwith who was 31st in this race last year and followed that up with 10th place in the under-23 race at the European championships.

In recent weeks he had been recovering from an injury which he picked up in the Conference championships.

Neil Cusack won the title in 1972 in Houston, Texas, while Donie Walsh was second to Steve Prefontaine and Mark Carroll was runner-up in his senior year. Seán Dolman who was born in South Africa and later competed for Ireland won the title in Arizona in 1991 while Sonia O’Sullivan won the women’s title during her time at Villanova.

“This was a sensational performance by Andrew (Ledwith),” said Mark Carroll who may have put himself in line for selection for the European championships with a record breaking performance in a road race in the US over the weekend. “It makes the European championships very exciting.”

And it was also an exciting day for Iona College who went into the race ranked fifth and came out of it with the silver team medals as well as the individual bronze.

Dubliner Mick Byrne left Iona for Wisconsin this year but there is still a strong Irish link there. Gavin Kennedy from Waterford, a graduate of De Paul University, is now the assistant coach at Iona.

The Irish teams for the European Cross-Country Championships will be named today. The first three in each of Sunday’s inter-counties championship races — senior, junior and under-23 — gain automatic selection.

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