Hunter earns All-America, other Lions advance at NCAA Championships

University Park, Pa. — Thanks to a PR leap of 21-04.75 (6.52), junior Gayle Hunter (Riverside, Calif.) added another All-America certificate to her collection on Thursday at the NCAA Track and Field Championship, posting a fifth-place finish in the long jump. Hunter's lifetime — long effort is the second-best performance in Penn State history — coming up just short of Chi-Chi Aduba's record 21-6 (6.55) - and nearly a nine-inch PR. Hunter's finish is also the highest-ever outdoor finish by a Nittany Lion in the long jump, as well as the best finish by a Lion in a field event since Jen Leatherman took fifth-place honors in the hammer in 2006.

The Lions also had another handful of athletes advance through the opening rounds, including Karlee McQuillen (Johnstown, Pa.), Aleesha Barber (Decatur, Ga.), and the women's 4x400-meter relay.

 

"Our women's team continued to rise to the occasion and compete at the level that it takes to make a dent in this championship," said Director of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan.

"A second lifetime best by Gayle in as many days proved that she is one of the top jumpers in the country. She puts us on the board in the first scored event of the meet which will really set the tone for us for the rest of the weekend. The relay gave us a dominating effort, and a clutch throw from Karlee really has us prepped and ready for great things this weekend."

 

McQuillen advanced to Saturday's final round in the javelin, posting a school-record throw in a clutch final attempt. McQuillen, who was in 14th-place and short of a slot in the 12-women final going into her third throw of the day, launched a PR and Penn State record 176-2 (53.70) - tacking two inches onto her previous career best - to move into fourth place overall and guarantee advancement by bettering the 52-meter automatic qualifying standard. McQuillen's toss also betters her own American Junior record in the event. Senior Heidi Nadeau (North Hampton, N.H.), an NCAA finalist in 2007, failed to advance, closing out her Nittany Lion career with a toss of 153-0 (46.65) to finish 22nd.

 

In her first race of the weekend, Barber, a redshirt sophomore, earned a spot in the 100-meter hurdle semi-final, running a preliminary time of 13.26. After stumbling over an early hurdle, Barber avoided a near-catastrophe, keeping her feet after the trip, and recovering to finish third in her heat and earn an automatic-qualifying bid to tomorrow's second round.

 

The top-seeded 4x400-meter relay also survived the opening rounds, as the Lions grabbed top honors in their preliminary heat to receive an automatic bid to Saturday's final. The Lion quartet of Dominique Blake (Bronx, N.Y.), Barber, Hunter, and Shana Cox (Westbury, N.Y.), posted the top time in qualifying at 3:31.18. Blake put the Lions in excellent position with a split of 52.4, before Barber split 52.4 to put the Lions in the lead. Hunter clocked 54.0, before handing off to Cox, who easily closed in 51.7, successfully fending off a late charge from Baylor. The 4x400 final is set for Saturday at 4:37 p.m. CT.

got off to an outstanding start on day two, opening up with a heat-winning 14.80 in the 110-meter hurdles - the second-fastest performance of his career - to earn 874 points to his total. Colligan followed up with a toss of 109-03 (33.31) in the discus, adding another 530 points. The senior would clear 13-05.25 (4.10) in the pole vault, adding an additional 645 points. Despite re-aggravating an elbow injury in the javelin, and coming away with a throw of 155-10 (47.49) in the javelin, Colligan, with his elbow wrapped heavily, still managed to gut out the 1500-meters and finish in 4:46.82. Colligan ended the day with 6839, good for 17th-place in a highly talented NCAA field.

 

"Colligan gave such a gutsy effort, showing true grit on the second day of competition and really putting everything on the line to finish the grueling decathlon event," continued Sullivan.

 

Also competing on day two was sophomore Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.), who finished 11th in the 400-meter hurdles, coming up just short of Saturday's final. Dorr took fourth in her semi-final heat with a time of 58.21.

 

Day three of action continues for the Lions on Friday, as Cox and Blake will compete in the 400-meter semi-finals, Barber will move to round two of the 100 hurdles, Emma Schmelzer (Bloomington, Ill.) will compete in the discus final, and Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) will run the final round of the steeplechase. Junior Clarence Smith (Coatesville, Pa.) will see action for the first time tomorrow, competing in the triple jump preliminaries.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010