November 22, 2008
Ballinger makes school history,
Finishes 10th at NCAA II Championships
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa.—
University of Southern Indiana junior Mary Ballinger
(Kokomo, Indiana) became the first student-athlete in school history to earn All-America honors in women's cross country for the second time with her 10th-place finish at the NCAA II National Championships Saturday.
The 10th-place showing also was the highest finish at the national meet by any USI women's cross country runner in the program's history.
Ballinger found herself in 19th-place at the one-mile mark of the race before moving up four spots in the next mile. Ballinger finished the 6k course in 21 minutes, 58.00 seconds.
"Mary ran a perfect race today," Head Coach Mike Hillyard
said. "We talked about approaching the race a little different than the way we approached the regional meet. At the Indoor Championships last winter, Mary let the race come to her and that is what she did today. She was still gaining ground as she approached the finish line."
Ballinger, who finished 17th at the national meet last year to earn All-America honors, took the same approach in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA II Indoor Track and Field Championships last March when she ran down competitors one-by-one to finish second in the 5,000 meters.
She did the same thing Saturday, moving up nine spots from the first mile-marker to the end of the race.
"It was really a tremendous effort out of Mary," Hillyard said. "I thought it was a tremendous effort by the Midwest Region to have three girls in the top 10 today."
In addition to Ballinger, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside's Jessica Monson finished fifth, while Wayne State University's Rachelle Malette was sixth to represent the Midwest region. Seattle Pacific University's Jessica Pixler was the individual title, while Adams State College captured the team title with 79 points, while Grand Valley State University was second with 102 points.
USI Sports Information