Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jenn Pierson Leads UAlbany Track & Field on Final Day of NCAA East Preliminary Round

Greensboro, N.C. - University at Albany's Jenn Pierson placed fifth in her heat and ran the 12th-fastest time overall in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase to lead her team at the NCAA East Preliminary Round on Saturday, May 29 at North Carolina A&T University's Irwin Belk Track. Laura Cummings and Catie Coxon also represented the Great Danes on the final afternoon of the three-day regional meet.

Running in one of the faster heats of the steeplechase, Pierson navigated the track in 10:32.89 and fell just .91 seconds shy of punching her ticket to the NCAA Championships. The top-three finishers in each heat plus the next three-fastest times in the event automatically qualified for the national meet. As a result, Yale's Anne Lovelace, who placed third in the final heat in 10:32.92, made the NCAA Championship field despite running a slower time than Pierson, while Ohio's Jenielle Hunt took the 12th and final qualifying spot by placing fourth in the second heat and just ahead of the UAlbany junior with a mark of 10:31.98.

"I never thought I would make it this far," explained Pierson, who was competing in the steeplechase for the first time at any level this spring and was the America East champion in the event earlier this month. "The steeplechase is a lot harder than it looks, but with constant training through cross country and hurdle work I was able to perform well. It was nerve-wracking with the storm last night which pushed the race back to this morning, but I kept telling myself that I could do it because I have trained hard. I still felt that (all the training and hard work) I did paid off today."

Cummings, who was competing at a qualifying meet for the NCAA Championships for the third straight season in the steeplechase, placed 27th by registering a time of 10:48.45. A transfer from North Carolina, she finished her career as the school's record holder in the event. The senior initially broke the school record with a winning time of 10:33.60 at the 2008 America East meet before finishing 10th at the 2010 ECAC Championship in 10:29.27 to establish the current program standard. She garnered all-conference honors all three years she competed in the event for the Great Danes.

Coxon wrapped up the weekend by placing 11th in the opening flight of the women's discus throw. The sophomore, who increased her personal-best mark by over 18 feet this spring, registered a toss that sailed 139-feet, 6-inches on her final attempt. Coxon earned all-conference accolades for the second consecutive year by winning the event at the America East championship meet this spring and also placed ninth at the ECAC Championship. Her winning throw of 157-3 at the Capital District Classic ranks second on the program's top-10 list.

"This meet was a great conclusion to our season," said associate head coach Craig McVey, who oversees the steeplechasers, distance runners and pole vaulters. "We obviously wanted to see some of our student-athletes advance to the NCAA meet, but we still finished high here and had several strong performances. For Jenn Pierson to come as close as she did by finishing 12th when 12 go (to NCAAs) and not make it because of the way the qualifying works is something that almost never happens. She had never run in the steeple before this spring, so to see her finish where she did was just phenomenal."

Paw Prints: Both the men's and women's steeplechase events were scheduled to start on Friday night, but a severe thunderstorm delayed the races until this morning ... Jenn Pierson came up just short of becoming the first member of the Great Dane women's program to advance to the NCAA Championships since Teresa Covert qualified in the 100-meter high hurdles in 2004 ... She entered the meet ranked 27th in the East Region with a personal-best time of 10:30.30 before running the 12th-fastest time today ... UAlbany had nine student-athletes, which was an America East Conference best, travel to the prestigious meet ... All of them helped UAlbany become the first school to win all four America East track and field championships in the same academic year.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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