March 13, 2006

Junior Uceny Places Fourth At NCAA Championships

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Junior Morgan Uceny once again proved herself to be among the nation’s best in the 800 meters, earning a fourth-place finish and her second straight All-America honor at the NCAA indoor championships in Fayetteville, Ark., this past weekend.

“It was just a phenomenal accomplishment for her to come into that kind of a setting and to perform to that level,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “I’m very proud of her and awfully happy that she’s at Cornell and doing that great stuff.”

Uceny’s result and final time of 2:06.55 were improvements over her seventh-place finish at the national indoor championships last year. Her performance also caps off an excellent indoor season in which she set both school and ECAC records in the 800 meters.

The weekend began on Friday for Uceny, in a qualifying heat. She ran a 2:05.97 time to finish second in the heat, giving her an automatic berth into the eight-person final run.

“I thought she did a really good job there,” Duesing said. “She ran patiently and confidently. In the last 175 to 180 meters, she just moved up very well and closed very well, and she looked like she was very much in control. Just the process of advancing showed that she had learned from the experience last year.”

The final run would include Michigan’s Katie Erdman – who turned in the nation’s best time last month with a 2:04.21 mark – along with Minnesota’s freshman star Heather Dorniden and 2005 All-American Ashley Patton of Missouri.

It is often said that the 800 meters is the most strategic of all distances – a race where runners may not want to lead too early – and Saturday’s final run showed the important role of strategy in the event.

“Morgan had as fine a start as I think she’s had in that type of competition,” Duesing said. “But I think she was a little bit concerned that maybe she had gone out a little bit too hard. So she slowed down – the field did as well, but in that process, a few people passed her … Over the course of the next 400 meters, I thought she raced extremely well, not only in moving up, but holding people off and protecting her position.”

Uceny ran negative splits in the race – as she progressively improved her 200-meter split time – but Dorniden took over in the last 300 meters to win the race with a 2:05.64 time, less than a second better than Uceny’s mark of 2:06.55.

Oregon’s Rebekah Noble ran a 2:05.72 for second place, while Alysia Johnson of California took third place with a 2:06.42 time. Patten finished sixth, while Erdman took seventh.

“[Uceny] clearly demonstrated that she belongs in this elite class,” Duesing said. “I’m very proud of all of that work that’s she done to put herself in that kind of a position, and to run so competitively at this level.”

Archived article by Ted Nyman
Sun Staff Writer