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May 12, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio -
Bolstered by event victories from redshirt-juniors Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio) and Evonne Britton (El Paso, Texas), the Nittany Lion women's track and field team captured top honors in the team standings, Sunday at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships at Ohio State University. The Nittany Lions totaled 133 points on their way to the program's fourth outdoor conference team title, bettering Illinois in second with 120.
The Nittany Lions, who have now taken home seven Big Ten team titles in track and field and cross country, have won the conference outdoor crown on four of the last six occasions, picking up victories in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013. Ohio State placed third on the afternoon with 86 points, while Michigan and Michigan State rounded out the top five with 82 and 76, respectively.
"This was a very rewarding win for us," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "I think we had 20 different women score, and we scored in the 17 of the 21 events, which really shows the strength and balance of our program, and that's what we're all about."
Jones solidified her position as one of the top sprinters in the conference and the nation, taking top honors in the 100 meters, thanks to a lifetime-best effort of 11.32. Jones wasn't done, however, coming back to earn a silver-medal finish in the 200 meters with a sizzling time of 23.37. Jones wins the sixth Big Ten 100 title in program history, following all-time Nittany Lions greats Connie Moore and Shavon Greaves. Moore won conference century crowns in 2002, 2003, and 2004, while Greaves won two in-a-row in 2009, and 2010.
"I think the most important thing is that we turned the corner from indoor - we struggled during the indoor season," continued Sullivan. "We turned the corner, and we're on top of things today. I'll take it, it was awesome. I'm so proud of our seniors and our leaders, who brought this group together and really got it done."
Britton was equally as outstanding, speeding to a season-best 13.13 to win the 100-meter hurdles and capture her first-career Big Ten victory. Britton wins the third 100 hurdle title in program history, adding to Aleesha Barber's victories in 2008, and 2010.
The redshirt junior would also pick up a scoring finish in the 400-meter hurdles, adding to one of the Lions' most prolific scoring performances of the afternoon. Led by a second-place finish from freshman Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.), the Nittany Lions amassed 17 points in the quarter hurdles, with Seymour in second in 58.90, Britton in fourth in 59.21, and redshirt-freshman Shelley Black (Laflin, Pa.) in fifth in 59.63.
The sprints squad rounded out the championships with another medal finish, adding a bronze-medal finish in the 4x400-meter relay. The Nittany Lions - Seymour, Jones, Black, and Dynasty McGee (Flint, Mich.) - finished in 3:39.10. McGee would also turn in a scoring finish on her own, posting a fourth-place finish in the 400-meters in 55.18. Britton, Jones, Seymour, and McGee also combined to place fifth in the 4x100-meter relay, going 46.06.
Junior Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) was also among the medal winners, turning in a second-place standing in the 1500 meters. Klebe pounded down the homestretch in the furious finish, clocking a lifetime-best 4:21.51 to edging Michigan's Rebecca Addison for the silver medal but just four hundredths of the second. The Nittany Lions also got an outstanding effort in the distances from Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), who placed fifth in the 5,000-meters in 16:17.50.
Redshirt junior Erika Morgan (Chesapeake, Va.), and freshman Ahmenah Richardson (Philadelphia, Pa.) picked up conference medals in the field events, both tying for third in the high jump. The Nittany Lion duo topped out at 5-8.50 (1.74) in the event, winding up in the four-way deadlock for the bronze medal. Sophomore Sarah Palmer (Schuylerville, N.Y.) adding another scoring finish in the event, finishing seventh overall with an identical 5-8.50 (1.74) clearance.
Junior Marlene Ricketts (Westbury, N.Y.) also scored in the field, coming in sixth overall in the triple jump with a leap of 40-7 (12.37).
"I have to give a huge shout to our staff," said Sullivan. "We had three new coaches this year, and we all came together, worked hard, lived through the highs and lows, and came out her and fought for a championship. It was truly awesome coaching."
The Nittany Lions will continue their postseason run on May 23-25, traveling to the NCAA Eastern Preliminary Round at North Carolina A&T.