Trials Wrap Up: Four Nittany Lions to Olympic Games
July 2, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A grand total of four members of the Nittany Lion track and field family have earned the opportunity to represent their respective countries at the 2012 Olympic Games, including United States team members Bridget Franek, a 2010 Penn State graduate, and Ryan Whiting, who currently serves as a volunteer assistant. Also earning trips to London during their countries' trials were all-time Nittany Lion great and two-time NCAA Champion Shana Cox, who will represent Great Britain, and fellow member of the Lions' national-champion 4x400-meter relay in 2008 Dominique Blake, who will don the Jamaican uniform at the Games.
Franek qualified in dramatic fashion last Friday evening, placing second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. Franek, who was an NCAA champion in the event in 2010, claimed her first-career Olympic berth, thanks to a finishing time of 9:35.62. A 10-time NCAA All-American while wearing the Blue and White, Franek clinched a spot on her third U.S. squad, having traveled to the IAAF World Championships in 2009, and 2011.
Whiting - the defending World Indoor Champion in the shot put - also earned his first Olympic spot, via a second-place finish in his signature event. One of the top throwers in the world, Whiting recorded a toss of 71-0.75 (21.66) to finish second-to-only Reese Hoffa's 72-2.25 (22.00). Whiting is also no stranger to qualifying for U.S. teams, representing his country at the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Championships, and 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships. The Harrisburg, Pa., native was a six-time NCAA Champion while competing at Arizona State.
Cox, who was an NCAA Champion in the 400- and 4x400-meter relay as a Nittany Lion, ran 51.84 to finish second in the 400 and guarantee herself an Olympic spot at the Aviva London Olympic Trials. Cox is also a likely candidate for her squad's 4x400, after assisting on Great Britain's winning relay at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and placed fifth individually in the 400. Cox - a 2008 graduate and 11-time All American as a Nittany Lion - owns a season-best 51.54.
Blake earned herself a spot in the Jamaican relay pool on the heels of a sixth-place finish in the women's 400 final. She enjoyed an outstanding weekend overall posting three sub-52 seconds efforts through the rounds of the event, including a lifetime-best 51.72 in the semi-finals. Blake already has some international experience under her belt, competing for Jamaica in the open 400 at the World Indoors, where she finished as a semi-finalist.
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