May 18, 2009
Ballinger earns Midwest Region's top honor
University of Southern Indiana junior All-American Mary Ballinger
(Chesterton, Indiana) has been named the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Female Track Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Ballinger is having an outstanding 2009 outdoor season for the Screaming Eagles, producing NCAA II automatic qualifying times in the 1,500 meters and the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
A five-time All-American, Ballinger leads the nation in the steeplechase, the event she will compete in at the NCAA II Outdoor Championships later this week in San Angelo, Texas. Ballinger, who ran the steeplechase in a school-record time of 10 minutes, 26.73 seconds at the Mt. SAC Relays, has finished first in four of the five individual races she has competed in this spring.
At the GLVC Outdoor Championships earlier this month, Ballinger captured conference titles in the 3,000 meters as well as the steeplechase. She accounted for 23 of the Eagles' 84 team points en route to earning first-team All-GLVC honors.
Ballinger, who joins former national champion Heather Cooksey as the only female competitors in USI history to earn Regional Track Athlete of the Year honors, earned a pair of All-America honors during the indoor season when she finished third in the 5,000 meters and helped the Eagles to a fifth-place finish in the distance medley relay. Cooksey was the Great Lakes Region Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year in 2004.
Ballinger also became the first women's runner to earn All-America honors in cross country in consecutive seasons when she finished 10th at the NCAA II Cross Country Championships this past fall.
In addition to Ballinger, USI's men will be represented by sophomore David Goodman
(Valparaiso, Indiana) and freshman Dustin Emerick
(Elmwood, Illinois) at the NCAA II Outdoor Championships. Goodman will compete in the prelims of the steeplechase following Ballinger Thursday evening, while Emerick will compete in the finals 10,000 meters Thursday night.
The finals of the men's and women's steeplechase are slated for Saturday.
USI Sports Information