University Park, Pa. — The Nittany Lion women’s track and field team was recognized as one of the nation’s elite programs on Tuesday, finishing third in the Terry Crawford Program of the Year standings, announced by the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches’ Association. The Terry Crawford Women’s Program of the Year Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding NCAA Division I women’s cross country/track & field program.
The award honors the institution that has achieved the most success in each academic year (spanning the cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field seasons) based on the institution’s finish at the NCAA Division I Championships. The Nittany Lions enjoyed a banner year over the 2009-10 campaign, capturing the program’s first Big Ten "Triple Crown," thanks to team titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. On the NCAA scene, Penn State claimed 14th place in cross country, 13th indoors, before scoring a fourth-place "trophy team" finish at last week’s NCAA Outdoor Championships – the squad’s second fourth-place effort in the last three years.
The Nittany Lions trail only Oregon, and Florida in the overall women’s standings. All told, the Nittany Lion contingent earned a grand total of 15 All-America citations over the course of the 2009-10 academic year, including an NCAA victory from senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase last weekend.
"It’s an honor to be in the top three in this year’s Terry Crawford Program of the Year standings," said Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "This is a great award created by USTFCCCA that truly recognizes that quality of balanced and successful track and field and cross country programs. It’s a great reward to see our program recognized as it continues to be our programmatic vision to have great teams represented at all three national championships."
Franek, who competed in a perfect 12-for-12 NCAA championship events, ends her outstanding PSU career with a total of 10 All-America finishes, including four in 2009-10 alone. Also aiding in the Lions’ NCAA success was classmate Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.), who totaled four All-America efforts in 2010, and was recently named USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year. Junior Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.) – another member of the Lions’ prolific sprint core – also experienced a stellar 2010 campaign, earning four All-America finishes, including a bronze-medal standing in the 200-meters indoors.
Including Greaves, the Nittany Lion women earned a trio of bronze-medal finishes on the year with two more coming this past weekend from senior Aleesha Barber (Decatur, Ga.) and junior Karlee McQuillen (Johnstown, Pa.). Barber captured third in the 100-meter hurdles, and concludes her career with a total of 11 All-America finishes – tying Lion greats Shana Cox and Connie Moore for the most NCAA certificates in school history. McQuillen notched a third-place effort in the javelin – her third-straight All-America effort in the event.
The Lions captured 13th-place indoors – first among Big Ten squads – with All-America efforts coming from Dorr in the 400-meters, and dual citations from Franek (3000- and 5000-meters), and Greaves (60- and 200-meters). Penn State would also win the second Big Ten indoor team title in program history with Franek garnering Athlete of the Championship honors, while Greaves was named Athlete of the Year.
Franek paced the Nittany Lion cross country squad to a 14th-place finish, placing 26th overall to earn her second-career All-America finish on the course. Franek was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year after her individual victory at the conference meet, while teammate Nicole Lord (Media, Pa.) garnered Freshman of the Year honors.
The efforts of Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan have also been highly recognized, as the 11th-year coach was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field while also being voted USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Women’s Head Coach of the Year during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Associate Head Coach Chris Johnson was honored at USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year during both track and field seasons.