Greaves, Franek and Sullivan garner postseason Big Ten awards

University Park, Pa. — Following their team title at the Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships last weekend, the Nittany Lion women's track and field team was well represented in the conference's yearly postseason awards, with senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) garnering Athlete of the Championship honors, junior Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.) claiming Athlete of the Year recognition, and Director and Head Coach of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan earning Women's Coach of the Year accolades.

Franek scored an impressive total of 26 points over the course of the indoor championships, scoring a victory in the mile, to go along with runner-up efforts in the 3,000- and 5,000-meters. Franek mounted an impressive kick in the final lap of the mile to garner her first indoor conference victory finishing in a personal-best and Penn State record 4:37.95, bettering an outstanding field. Just over an hour later, Franek would prove her fitness, taking second in the 5000-meters, and adding another eight points to the Nittany Lion total. Franek would finish the race in 16:09.48. On Saturday, the senior raced to a season-best and NCAA automatic-qualifying 9:10.68 to place second in the 3,000 - just over half a second off her PR in the event. Over her indoor conference career, Franek has scored a total of 56.50 points.

Nationally, Franek currently ranks among the top 10 performances in the NCAA in three events, standing eighth in the mile run, seventh in the 3,000, and fifth in the 5,000.

Trailing in the team standings for much of the afternoon, the Lions screamed into first place with two events remaining, thanks to a 25-point haul in the 200-meters led by a victory from Greaves. Claiming her second-career Big Ten Indoor title in the event, Greaves blitzed to a facility- and Big Ten Meet-record, and NCAA-automatic qualifying 22.98. Greaves' blazing one-lap effort is also the fastest in the NCAA this year. Greaves' 200 title was her second of the afternoon, after she ran away with the 60-meter crown in 7.30. The gold-medal efforts were also her second-straight conference victories in both the 60 and 200. Greaves would then join teammates Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.), Caitlin Defusco (Schwenksville, Pa.) and Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.) on the winning 4x400-meter relay. The Nittany Lion quartet would cap the championship, running a season-best and NCAA-provisional qualifying 3:35.38, which is also a new Big Ten Championship record. The relay win is the fifth-consecutive indoor conference title for the Nittany Lions, who have won eight of the last nine 4x400s in indoor and outdoor track.

Greaves is currently an NCAA qualifier in four events, ranking fourth in the 60, first in the 200, 11th in the 400-meters, and fifth in the 4x400.

Sullivan has now led five Penn State squads to Big Ten team titles, beginning with the 2004 indoor season. Sullivan has had the Lions on a roll in recent years, and Penn State has claimed conference crowns during the outdoor season in 2008 and 2009, the 2009 cross country campaign, and most recently the 2010 indoor season. All told, Sullivan has earned an impressive 21 "Coach of the Year' citations over her decorated career, and five within the Big Ten Conference.

Throughout the Championships, Sullivan's squad captured four first-place finishes (60, 200, mile, 4x400), to go along with three silver-medal efforts, including Franek in the 3,000 and 5,000 and Dorr in the 400-meters, and a pair of third-place standings, with Defusco taking third in the 200, and Brittany Maun (Greenville, Pa.) placing third in the high jump. Sullivan also coached a pair of Big Ten Meet Records, including Greaves in the 200 (22.98), and the 4x400 relay (3:35.38).

Sullivan's women's team has been a consistent member of the national top 10 this season, and currently stands seventh in the USTFCCCA rankings. The Nittany Lions currently have 15 individual and two relay performances on the NCAA descending order list, led by automatic qualifying marks from Greaves in the 60 and 200, and Franek in the 3,000 and 5,000.

The Lions continue their charge towards the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend, traveling to Last Chance competitions at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Action is set for Friday and Saturday, March 5-6.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010