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EUGENE, Ore. – The Penn State track & field program closed out the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with three Nittany Lion women garnering First Team All-America honors Saturday at Historic Hayward Field. As a team, the Nittany Lion women placed 24th with 11.5 points.
“I’m thrilled to be leaving Eugene with a top-25 finish on the woman's side and three of our four athletes competing at the meet earning First Team All-America honors,” head coach John Gondak said. “There were some very challenging conditions with weather the last two days and our women battled through to have a successful meet. We are the only program in the Big Ten with both genders finishing in the top-25. Our coaching staff did a fantastic job preparing the team to compete this weekend and I'm really excited about everything we accomplished.”
Maddie Holmberg (Greensburg, Pa.), a junior, closed out the heptathlon with a third-place finish with her score of 5,833 points. Holmberg’s score of 5,833 points is the second-highest score of her career. Her third-place finish Saturday in the heptathlon is the highest finish in program history at the NCAA Championships.
She opened up the second day of the heptathlon with a distance of 19-8 in the long jump for a score of 846 points. Holmberg’s distance in the long jump was the fourth-best mark in the field on Saturday.
Following the long jump, Holmberg tallied a toss of 134-2 in the javelin throw for a score of 685 points. Holmberg finished out the heptathlon with a personal-best time of 2:19.16 in the 800-meter run for 835 points.
“It is always a roller coaster, you never know what is going to happen,” Holmberg said. “The physical training gets you here, but it is the mentality that gets you through it.
“It is so cool to finish third,” Holmberg added. “Penn State is a phenomenal school in both academics and athletics. So, to have something that goes down in history in Penn State Athletics is amazing. I am honored, I love Penn State. To represent the school on a high stage like this is cool.”
On the track, sophomore Danae Rivers (Derby, Conn.) placed eighth in the women’s 1,500-meter run with her time of 4:12.36. Her First Team All-America honor Saturday is the first of her outdoor career, and her fourth overall.
“First Team All-American sounds pretty good,” Rivers said. “I mean it has been a long season, so I can’t complain, I thank God for the opportunity and I tried my best not to give up.”
In the field, senior Megan McCloskey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa) closed out her Nittany Lion career as she cleared a height of 5-10 to tie for fourth-place in the women’s high jump. With her finish on Saturday, McCloskey tallied her first First Team All-America honor and for the Nittany Lions in the outdoor women’s high jump.
“Finishing as an All-American is hard to put into words, but it is very sweet,” McCloskey said. “My whole family was here, I was really happy, my teammates have been behind me for four years and it is a great way to finish out.”
Penn State was the only Big Ten program to tally top-25 finishes in both the men’s and women’s standings. The Nittany Lions had six First Team All-Americans, one national champion, and one third-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.