Women's Track and Field Earns Third Consecutive Big Ten Outdoor Championship
May 16, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Bolstered by a total of six individual, and two relay titles, the Nittany Lion women's track and field team completed its 'triple crown' run for the 2009-10 academic year by winning team title at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Sunday on the campus of Indiana University. The victory is the third consecutive outdoor conference win for the Nittany Lions, who have claimed Big ten titles in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field during the 2009-10 seasons. Highlighting the efforts individually, were senior Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.) and junior Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.), who claimed two individual wins each, and were also important legs on the winning 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays.
"The women were absolutely phenomenal all weekend," said Director of Track and Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "This team has accomplished so much together and to see us execute at 110-percent was just a tremendous experience."
Penn State joins Michigan (2002-04) and Wisconsin (1983-86) as the only Big Ten teams to win three straight women's outdoor titles. The Nittany Lions' three titles are fourth-highest in the conference, having started Big Ten competition in 1992. The Nittany Lions are also the seventh squad in conference history to sweep all three titles in the academic year, joining Wisconsin, which has accomplished the feat on four occasions, and Michigan, which has swept all three titles twice, most recently in 2002-03.
Going into Sunday's finals with just 19 points, the Nittany Lions put another 114.50 points on the afternoon, paced by a sprints contingent that provided individual victories in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meters, as well as the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, and both the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays. Greaves led the way with gold-medal runs in the 100 (11.56) and 200 (23.28) for the second-straight year, while Dorr doubled up in the 400 (52.51) and 400 hurdles (57.50). Senior Aleesha Barber (Decatur, Ga.) also topped the podium with a victory in the 100 hurdles (13.11) - her second-career victory in the event, with the first coming in 2008.
The Nittany Lions displayed exceptional depth throughout the sprints, with at least one Penn State athletes scoring in every sprint and hurdle event, two Nittany Lions scoring in the 200, and 100 hurdles, and three athletes in the Blue and White earning points in the 400 and 400 hurdles. Dorr and Greaves both each added two more relay crowns to their resumes, along with teammates Caitlin Defusco (Schwenksville, Pa.) and Barber in the 4x100, and junior Megan Duncan (North Huntingdon, Pa.) and freshman Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.) in the 4x400. The 4x100 brought the stick around in a season-best 44.62 - which is also the third-fastest time in school history - while the 4x400 capped the meet with a 3:35.18 victory.
Duncan also had a record-setting weekend individually, scoring a runner-up finish in the 400 hurdles with a PR 57.88 and her first trip under the 58-second barrier. Freshman Evonne Britton (El Paso, Texas) impressed in the hurdling events, posting a sixth-place effort in the quarter hurdles in 59.67, and claiming seventh overall in the 100 hurdles in 13.85. DeFusco and Anyanwu also got on the board individually with DeFusco coming in fourth in the 200 in 23.98, and Anyanwu registering a fifth-place standing in the 400 in 54.36. Barber added an eighth place finish in the 400, running 54.65.
"The commitment from this program to focus towards triple crown started in the fall with the women's cross country victory and to see it through to the end is just outstanding," continued Sullivan. "A lot of the credit goes to Coach (Chris) Johnson and our sprints core, as well senior contingency that has given us outstanding team leadership over the years."
Coming off a victory in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) continued to put team points on the board on Sunday, recording scoring finishes in the 1500- and 5000-meters. Franek, who ran an NCAA-leading 9:48.28 in the steeplechase on Saturday, placed fourth in the 1500 with a personal-best 4:18.33, and came back to take third in the 5K with an effort of 16:18.68. Sophomore Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) also got a piece of the scoring in the 5000, finishing eighth overall in 16:39.18.
Penn State, ranked No. 7 in the nation by the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA), scored 133.5 points to earn its third consecutive Big Ten Outdoor title. Minnesota was second with 123 points, followed by Wisconsin with 101.5.
"I also give a lot of credit to Minnesota," said Sullivan. "The Gophers were absolutely phenomenal and pressed us to be at our best. It was a battle from start to finish."
Other Nittany Lions to provide top-eight scoring finish during Sunday's championship effort included sophomore Jocelyn Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.), who tied for seventh in the pole vault, and classmate Tanaya Lloyd (Philadelphia), who captured sixth place in the triple jump.
The postseason action for the Nittany Lions next weekend at the NCAA First Round, hosted by the University of North Carolina A&T. Competition is set for May 27-29, in Greensboro, N.C.