June 19, 2003
The honors continue to roll in for senior Luke Watson (Stillwater, Minn.). After achieving the eighth All-America honor of his career last week in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Championship, Watson landed a spot on the Verizon Academic All-America first team for the first time in his career on June 17. He earned second-team honors a year ago.
Watson, who graduated in May of 2002 with an accounting degree, worked toward his master's of accountancy this year while competing for the Irish track and field team. He posted a GPA of 3.54 to qualify for the Academic All-America honor.
While Watson has achieved an outstanding level of excellence in the classroom, his contributions to the program on the track make him one of the top student-athletes in Notre Dame athletic history. His eight athletic All-America certificates ended up just one off the record of nine, set by former teammate and running mate Ryan Shay just a year ago.
Watson has dominated at the BIG EAST Conference level for the Irish as well. He owns four all-BIG EAST finishes in cross country from 1998-2001, finishing as high as second in the '01 competition and helping Notre Dame bring home the team championship in 1999 and 2001. Watson also won two Notre Dame Invitational cross country titles and took home the National Catholic meet individual title in 2000.
In BIG EAST track competition, Watson owns six individual titles - including three in '03 alone. He won three straight steeplechase titles in 2000, '02 and '03 at the outdoor meet over the last five years and won the indoor mile this past season. He was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer at the '02 conference outdoor meet and was a key factor in the 2003 men's team becoming the first Notre Dame track and field squad to win both the BIG EAST indoor and outdoor titles in the same season.
During national competition Watson achieved even more outstanding results. He earned All-America honors in cross country twice (2000 and 2001) and was able to perform well across a number of different events in NCAA track and field meets. He earned All-America honors by anchoring the distance medley relay team in 2000, then followed up with individual honors in the indoor 3,000 meters (2002), steeplechase (2002), indoor mile (2003), indoor 5,000 meters (2003) and outdoor 5,000 meters (2003).
Watson brought national notoriety to the Irish track and field program during this season's Meyo Invitational. Running in an elite field of mile specialists during the traditional 'Meyo Mile', Watson crushed the Notre Dame record to win the race in 3:57.83. He became just the second Irish athlete to break the four-minute mile barrier and briefly held the world's fastest time in the event for the indoor season. Watson was featured in Sports Illustrated's 'Faces in the Crowd' for his victory.
The indoor mile school record is just one of six school marks Watson holds upon his completion of eligibility at Notre Dame. He also has the indoor 3,000 meter (7:54.02), outdoor mile (4:00.68), steeplechase (8:37.61), outdoor 5,000 meter (13:38.73) and DMR (9:38.82) records.
By earning athletic All-American and Academic All-America honors this season, Watson becomes the ninth Notre Dame student-athlete to repeat that double-duty distinction (Tom Gatewood - football, Bob Arnzen - basketball, John Paxson - basketball, Katie Marten - softball, Bill Lester - fencing, Jen Renola - soccer, Ruth Riley - women's basketball, and Jarrah Myers - softball). In Notre Dame history, the All-American/Academic All-American achievement has been reached by 42 different individuals 51 times.
Watson is set to compete in this weekend's USA Track and Field Championships in Palo Alto, Calif.