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Women's Cross Country/Track and Field

March 11, 2003

USI’s freshmen set for nationals

Three years ago, the University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team had its “dynamic duo” in, then freshmen, Billy Harris and Diond’re Givens. Now, the USI women’s track team has its version of the “dynamic duo” in freshman high jumper Abby Boberg (Bicknell, Indiana) and freshman middle distance runner Heather Cooksey (Brownsburg, Indiana).

While Harris and Givens will, once again, be competing in the NCAA II regional tournament Friday night, Boberg and Cooksey will get to the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championships this weekend in Boston, Massachusetts.

Boberg enters the weekend as the third-ranked high jumper in the country. This season, Boberg has recorded four meet records, a GLVC record, and USI’s school record leap of 5 feet, 8 inches.

“Abby had her best training session of the season this past Friday,” head coach Mike Hillyard stated. “She believes she can jump in the 5 feet, 10 inch range.”

If Boberg can reach 5 feet, 10 inches, she will match her personal-best and be in contention for a national championship. It would be USI’s first individual national championship since 1998, when Elly Rono won the men’s outdoor 10,000 meters, and the women’s first ever national championship.

“I think Abby’s confidence at those heights was a limiting factor earlier in the season, but I think that barrier is gone after what she was able to do in practice a few days ago,” Hillyard said.

Cooksey has made great strides this spring and has established herself as one of USI’s most dominating runners. She is coming off a GLVC championship in the mile and currently ranks 15th in the country with an adjusted time of 4:58.49.

“Heather has improved every week of the indoor season,” Hillyard explained. “I do not think she is anywhere near her peak yet, but if her recent workouts are any indication, then she should make a big jump this weekend.”

Cooksey got her first taste of a large-scale national event this past fall when she helped USI’s women’s cross country team to an appearance in the NCAA II National Championships.

That experience could come in handy as she attempts to become USI’s fourth All-American.

Hillyard thinks that it could take a 4:54 mile to make the finals and he has faith that his runner can accomplish that goal. “I believe she is ready to run at least that fast,” Hillyard said. “The thing that makes her so good, aside from her natural talent, is her attitude. She is not intimidated by fast times or fast competition.”

Both Cooksey and Boberg will depart for Boston Wednesday morning. Cooksey will compete in the preliminaries of the mile at 4:15 p.m. (CT) on Friday while Boberg will compete in the high jump at 12:15 p.m. (CT) on Saturday. The finals of the women’s mile are slated for 2 p.m. (CT) on Saturday.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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