Jan. 31, 2009

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Gayle Hunter (Riverside, Calif.) had a career afternoon on Friday on day one of the Penn State National, at Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. Hunter punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships, scoring an outstanding 4236 points in the pentathlon, bettering the automatic standard by nearly 200 points, and annihilating her own school record, as well as meet and facility records. Hunter's NCAA mark was just one of over 40 NCAA qualifying performances on Friday, with many more likely to come during Saturday's competition.

Hunter's record multi-event showing also included several provisional marks, as Hunter's 6.37 60-meter hurdle PR, and 20-5.25 (6.23) leap in the long jump - both of which bettered the NCAA provisional standard. Hunter's career performance is also the best in the NCAA this season.

The Nittany Lion distance runners also recorded outstanding marks on Friday, with redshirt-freshman Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) leading the way with a second-place finish in the 5,000-meters in 14:30.40 in his collegiate track debut. Senior Dennis Pollow (Ransomville, N.Y.) followed in 14:31.99, also a personal-best. Junior Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas) also turned in a runner-up effort, taking second in the women's 5K in 16:49.58.

"Gayle's performance definitely kicked off an exciting weekend of opportunity for us," said Director and Head Coach of Nittany Lion Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We also saw some great performances in the distances, with Kyle running an excellent first collegiate track race, and Dennis turning in a big PR. I think day one has set us up for many more great things on Saturday."

Hunter would come back to win the open long jump later in the evening with a leap of 20-1.75 (6.14), bettering the provisional standard once again.

Action continues tomorrow morning, beginning with the men's heptathlon 60-meter hurdles at 9:30 a.m. Follow all the action via webcast at www.gopsusports.com.