National Championship Steeplechase Run by Senior Bridget Franek Highlights Fourth-Place Effort for Women's Track & Field; Men's Team Finishes 23rd

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NCAA Steeplechase Champion Bridget Franek

NCAA Steeplechase Champion Bridget Franek

June 12, 2010

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EUGENE, Oregon - Highlighted by senior Bridget Franek's (Hiram, Ohio) victory in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Penn State's track & field teams completed competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on a high note, Saturday after a weekend full of All-America performances. Starting Saturday's events with just five points on the board, the Nittany Lion women's team engineered an outstanding final day, ending with a fourth-place "trophy" finish, thanks to a 34-point effort. PSU finished just two points behind third-place Florida and was the top placing Big Ten team. Penn State's men's team finished tied for 23rd after compiling 11 points throughout the weekend.

All told, the Nittany Lions claimed a nine All-America citations on Saturday, including seniors Aleesha Barber (Decatur, Ga.) and Franek, juniors Blake Eaton (Allegany, N.Y.), Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.), and Karlee McQuillen (Johnstown, Pa.), as well as the women's 4x400-meter relay with members Barber, Greaves, Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.), and Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.). Penn State captured a total of 12 All-America place finishes throughout the four-day competition.

After running with the pack of 16 finalists for the first 400-meters, Franek opened up a decisive gap over the rest of the field, winning by an impressive 13-second margin over runner-up Emma Coburn of Colorado. Franek's finishing time was 9:38.86 - the second-fastest effort of her accomplished career. The All-America finish is the 10th over Franek's perfect 12-for-12 NCAA appearances in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field, as well as the first NCAA title by a Nittany Lion in the event. The senior's victory is the fourth NCAA winning performance from a Penn State woman in the NCAA era, joining Shana Cox in the 400-meters, Dominique Blake, Barber, Gayle Hunter, and Cox on the women's 4x400 - both from the 2008 outdoor season - and Deshaya Williams in the discus in 2003.

The Nittany Lion women would also garner a pair of bronze-medal standings from Barber in the 100-meter hurdles, and McQuillen in the javelin. Barber, who was running out of lane two, was out well from the gun, finishing with a wind-legal 12.91 in her highest-ever individual NCAA finish. Virginia Tech's Queen Harrison took the title in 12.64, with Miami's Ti'erra Brown earning runner-up honors in 12.84. McQuillen was also hot at the start of her competition, launching a season-best 169-3 (51.60) on her first attempt, which wound up being the top throw throughout the first flight of competitors and entered the final as third-best throw overall. After being pushed to fourth-place mid-way through the final three throws of the competition, McQuillen came through in the clutch once again unleashing an effort of 171-2 (52.17) on her final attempt to move back into bronze-medal standing.

Barber is just the second Nittany Lion women to attain All-America honors in the short hurdles, after turning in a fourth-place finish in the event in 2008. McQuillen, who earns her third-consecutive All-America finish, in the 13th Penn State javelinist to earn All-America status, and just the third three-time All-American, along with Brianne Johnson (2001-2003).

Greaves would also turn in a top-eight placing on the day, finishing seventh in the 200-meters in 23.75. After a total of four NCAA appearances, Greaves now owns a total of seven All-America finishes.

Both Greaves and Barber later went on to be part of the fourth-place 4x400-meter relay team. The relay team also included outstanding senior Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.), who completed her collegiate career with two outdoor All-America finishes this year, and dynamic freshman Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.), who earned her first outdoor All-America honor with the finish. The relay team crossed the line in a time of 3:30.74, with Dorr splitting an impressive 51.58 on the anchor to outlast Arkansas down the homestretch and earn crucial team points towards her squad's total.

Eaton highlighted the efforts on the men's side, claiming a third-place finish in the shot put for his second All-America finish of the 2009-10 campaign. The junior unleashed a personal-best 64-2-50 (19.57) on his second attempt of the competition - a lifetime-best effort by more than two feet. Eaton would put up a sensational series of throws, including four attempts over 19 meters, which all bettered his previous PR going into the weekend. Eaton's bronze medal effort is the first by a Nittany Lion at the NCAA outdoor meet since Steve Pina placed third in the long jump in 1996. Eaton is the seventh-ever Penn State All-American in the outdoor shot put, and the first since 1990. Teammate Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.) also competed in the shot, placing 18th overall with an effort of 57-3 (17.45).

The Lions will conclude the 2009-10 season at the end of the month, traveling to the USATF Senior and Junior Outdoor Championships, set for June 24-27, in Des Moines, Iowa.

--NITTANY LIONS--

 

 

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