MSU - O'Connor and Franklin Earn All-American Honors On Final Day of NCAA Championships
Provided by MSU
EUGENE, Oregon - In her final collegiate race, Michigan State track & field senior Leah O'Connor broke her own school record in the 3,000m steeplechase, finishing third to highlight the final day of the NCAA Championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. O'Connor finished third with a school-record time of 9:33.38, breaking her record set at the East Preliminary round of 9:35.33.
"That was ridiculously fun today. I went out and was tough, and did the things that I wanted to do. Colleen (Quigley of Florida State) had a bold final 400m. It was wild, and exactly what I wanted it to be. I think there is a lot more out there for me. I don't think that today was my day to run my absolute best, but it is super exciting to know that in two weeks (at the USATF Outdoor Championships) I can go after it again," O'Connor said.
Fellow senior Tori Franklin also had a stellar final NCAA Championship, finishing fifth in the triple jump with a mark of 13.38m (43-10¾ ). It was her third jump that put her on the medal stand. Franklin is now a seven-time All-American during her tenure at Michigan State. She was also a First-Team All-American in the triple jump in 2013.
"I have had a really tough season this year, and I am just happy that I was finally able to pull it all together for my last NCAA meet. It really meant a lot to be able to hear my teammates, and to just be out there and have so much fun, knowing I had so much support all around the country. It was an amazing feeling," Franklin said.
O'Connor completes her storied career at Michigan State as a six-time All-American between indoor and outdoor track. She capped off a season where she led Michigan State to the Cross Country National Championship and won the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championship.
"Sometimes it is just not your day. We learned an immense amount this week. It was a fantastic finish; she was leading from start to finish. In a perfect world, we might have given the lead away, but that is now how the race transpired. She didn't want it to be a soft pace, so she was a perfect pace car into the wind. That consequence was that she didn't have as much run left in her legs as the other two late in the run," said MSU Director of Track & Field Walt Drenth.
"Obviously looking at this year it would have been great to win my last steeple title," O'Connor said. "The way that this just ended and how tough I was and how the race went; it was all perfect. It has all been what it needed to be. Cross country started things in an amazing way. I was on a team with some relentless powerful women. We accomplished a goal that seemed hefty at times. At indoor with the mile, I reached for new levels and found out a lot about myself as an athlete. In steeple, there is more to come. I PR'd, and I know that there is still more to come."
O'Connor will be returning to Eugene in two weeks to compete in the USATF Outdoor Championships, held at Hayward Field on June 25-28. Athletes will earn spots on the 2015 IAAF World Championships team set for August 22-30 in Beijing, China, as well as on the Pan Am Games, Thorpe Cup, Pan Am Juniors and NACAC Championships teams.
Freshman Katelyn Daniels earned Second-Team All-American honors in the discus. In her first NCAA Outdoor Championship, Daniels finished 15th with a throw of 51.81 (169-11).
Sophomore Rachele Schulist earned her second-straight All-American honor when she was 14th in the 5,000m with a time of 16:10.89. Schulist earned Second-Team All-American honors in a tightly contested 5,000m.
The women finished tied for 20th with 10.0 points, while Oregon captured the women's title with 59 points. As a team, the MSU men finished 28th with 9.0 points, with the Oregon men completing the sweep with 85 points.