College Station, Texas — Thanks to NCAA All-America finishes from senior Aleesha Barber (Decatur, Ga.) and the 4x400-meter relay, the Nittany Lion women's track and field team posted a seventh-place finish in the team standings - the program's highest-ever indoor showing - at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. Senior Ryan Fritz (Parkesburg, Pa.) also shined on the men's side, finishing tied for third in the high jump - the third All-America effort of his decorated career.
The Lion women totaled 24 points for seventh-place overall. Tennessee won the competition with 42 points, followed by Texas A&M (37), Brigham Young (33), Texas (31), Arizona State (30), and Louisiana State (28).
All told, the Lions recorded eight All-America finishes on the weekend, including a trio of top three finishes with a runner-up effort from Gayle Hunter (Riverside, Calif.) in the pentathlon on Friday, and third-place finishes from the 4x400 and Fritz.
Fritz opened the competition, easily clearing the 6-10.25 (2.09) opening height to move onto the next round along with 12 other competitors. Fritz would clip the bar on his first attempt at 7-0.25 (2.14), but soar over the height on his second attempt. The clearance guaranteed All-America honors for the senior, as the field waned to just seven athletes.
Six of the remaining athletes - including Fritz - would bow out at the next height - 7-2.25 (2.19), leaving Fritz, Texas' Raymond Harris, and California's Ed Wright, and Maryland's Dwight Barbiasz tied for third - each having one miss on the previous height. Fritz's finish is the highest by a member of the Penn State men's team since Phil Caraher finished second in shot put in 1991.
Junior Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.) popped off with a 54.10 split on the opening leg of the 4x400, bringing the Lions through in second place. The baton then went to Barber, who clocked 53.40 for her 400-meters, keeping the Lions right in the thick of the pack. On the third leg, sophomore Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.) charged to the lead, turning in a 53.77 split with a gutsy effort, before handing off to senior Hunter. Hunter held the Lions in strong position through the anchor, posting a 53.39 read out.
The All-America finish in the third-straight for the Lions indoors, as well as the second All-America honor for Dorr, the eighth for Barber, the first for Greaves, and the seventh for Hunter.
The Lions finished just behind host Texas A&M (3:32.52) and Arizona State (3:34.30) in their heat, which would hold as the fastest of the four sections on the day, as the three teams would claim all three medal positions in the overall standings.
In the 60-meter hurdles, Barber clocked 8.20 on her way to a fourth-place finish. Barber also finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships
After claiming fourth-place honors in last night's 5000-meters, Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) continued to hold her place among the nation's top distance runners, finishing 11th in the 3,000-meters. Franek clocked 9:17.60 in the race/
The Lions will now head into the outdoor season, beginning with the Jim Thorpe Invitational at Nittany Lion Track on Saturday, March 28.