Hunter in Third After Four Heptathlon Events at Big Ten Outdoor Championships
May 16, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill.: - Ending the day with a sensational effort in the 200-meters, junior Gayle Hunter (Riverside, Calif.) stands in third place after day one of the women's heptathlon, Friday at the Big Ten Track and Field Championships at the University of Illinois. In just her first multi-event competition of the season, Hunter, already an All-American in the event, engineered an outstanding performance, posting personal best in two of the day's four events, and ending the afternoon with 3262 points. Senior Shawn Colligan (Bradford, Pa.) and junior Chris Morrisey (Ligonier, Pa.) posted matching scores of 3784 after five decathlon events, finishing day one in a tie for second, capped off by a one-two sweep in the 400-meters, the day's final race.
In sixth place going into the 200, Hunter sped away from the field, running a PR 23.81 to haul in 999 points. Hunter's stellar half lap is not only the second best run by a Lion all season, but also a NCAA regional performance, the fifth-best mark in Penn State history, and the fourth-fastest time in the Big Ten this season. Hunter, who will be a very busy woman this weekend, will also run the open 200 on Saturday.
"I'm very excited about the performances of all our multi-event athletes today," said Director of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "They all held their own and competed very well. Gayle is poised for a big finish after ending today in third place, and the guys are in great position with Shawn and Chris in the top five."
All three Nittany Lion men were off to the races in the 100-meters, as each posted a season best in the event. With winds of 3.0 or more in both of the 100 heats, Colligan led the way with a lifetime-low 11.01 - the second-fastest event in the field - with Morrisey finishing in 11.14 - the third-best effort of the day - and Slater clocking a PR 11.63. Colligan scored 858 points in the event, while Morrisey's effort was good for 830. Slater's performance was worth 725.
Hunter was also impressive in the day's opening event, recovering quickly after clipping a hurdle in the late stages of the race in the 100-meter hurdles, and still managing to record an event-best 13.89. Hunter's mark, which was her second-fastest effort of the season and also bettered the NCAA regional standard, was three tenths of a second ahead of the rest of the field and good for 994 points.
After clearing 4-11.50 (1.51) in the high jump, Hunter clawed her way back up the standings with a toss of 38-02 (11.63) - a lifetime best - in the shot put, tacking on another 637 points and ending up in sixth place in the overall standings going into the day's final event.
Colligan found himself atop the decathlon heap following the long jump competition, after posting a season-best 22-05.25 (6.84) to add another 776 points to his total. Morrisey managed a leap of 21-09.50 (6.64) for 729 points, while Slater finished with a personal-best mark of 21-07.50 (6.59) and another 718 points.
Morrisey followed up with a season-best 42-04 (12.90) in the shot put, adding 661 to move into third place before the high jump. Morrisey's throw was also the second best mark in the event. Colligan posted a mark of 38-01.50 (11.62), standing in fourth after three events, while Slater registered a mark of 34-00.25 (10.37).
Colligan closed out the day with a PR 48.43 in the 400-meters, while Morrisey finished off in 49.60. The Lion duo was also solid in the high jump with Morrisey clearing 6-03.50 (1.92), and Colligan going over 6-01.25 (1.86).
"The first day was kind of a tough one for us," continued Sullivan. "We weren't predicted out to score any points on day one, but it's a three day competition, and the action really begins for us tomorrow with some of our strongest events on schedule."
Action begins again on Saturday morning, starting with the heptathlon long jump at 10:15 a.m. CT. Saturday's schedule also includes preliminary rounds for the majority of the track events, as well as several opportunities for the Lions to shine in the field.