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Women's Cross Country/Track and Field

March 15, 2008

Ballinger second, Cooksey fourth in 5,000 meters

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MANKATO, Minn.University of Southern Indiana sophomore Mary Ballinger (Chesterton, Indiana) and senior Heather Cooksey (Brownsburg, Indiana) finished second and fourth, respectively, in the women's 5,000 meters Saturday evening at the NCAA II Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Mary Ballinger

Heather Cooksey

Ballinger finished the race with a time of 17 minutes, 11.21 seconds, while Cooksey finished with a time of 17 minutes, 14.08 seconds. Ballinger's finish is the highest at the NCAA II Indoor Championships by a Screaming Eagle in the women's 5,000 meters in the program's history.

Both Cooksey and Ballinger led the field throughout the first six laps, but Abilene Christian University's Winrose Karunde took the lead midway through the race and distanced herself from the field in the final 10 laps to win the gold.

"Mary ran an incredible race," Head Coach Mike Hillyard said. "You have to be happy when you come in as the seventh seed and finish second.

"Heather didn't look her best today," Hillyard continued, "but when you look at the fact that she finished fourth in the 5,000 meters in her last trip to the indoor nationals (2005) and fourth this time, you can't be too disappointed."

With their finishes, both Ballinger and Cooksey will be named All-Americans when the list is released by the USTFCCCA Sunday. The two also earned the Eagles 13 team points, which placed USI 14th.

This marks the second All-America honor for Ballinger after she finished 17th at the NCAA II Cross Country Championships last November. It is the school-record 11th time that Cooksey has earned All-America honors, her last coming when she finished second in the 5,000 meters at the 2005 NCAA II Outdoor Championships.

Ballinger and Cooksey, along with the rest of the USI men's and women's track and field teams, open the 2008 outdoor schedule March 28-29 at the Washington University Invitational in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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