NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – The four-time defending NEC outdoor champion Sacred Heart women's track and field team fell short of a fifth straight title by the slimmest of margins on Sunday. In a competition that came down to the very-last event, the Pioneers finished with 117.5 points while CCSU recorded 118 points to take their first-ever NEC Championship. SHU came into the weekend looking to tie Monmouth's five-year NEC title run from 2009-13 for the longest-consecutive championship streak for one program in NEC history.
The 0.5-point margin is tied for the smallest margin-of-victory for the first place team, matching the dramatic 2003 NEC Championship meet that saw St. Francis University finish with 131.5 points compared to 131 points for the runner-up LIU. The 118 points for CCSU is the lowest-scoring total for any NEC Champion in the league's history (since 1991) as SFU (116), FDU (108) and LIU Brooklyn (106) were all within knocking distance of claiming the title.
Despite the heartbreaking finish, the Pioneers still managed several standout performances on the day, highlighted by Jacqueline Thorne's victory in the 3000m steeplechase.
- Now in her junior season, Thorne competed in the 3000m steeple for the first time in her career at the NEC Championships
- She clocked in at a personal-best time of 11:07.45 to edge out the runner-up by a little more than three seconds and claim the victory
- SHU showed great depth in the event as the Pioneers also had finishers place fifth through seventh in the overall standings
- Brigit Kelly (11:46.56), Danielle Mannino (11:48.39) and Angela Kaiser (11:48.71) packed up well and combined to place fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, while each clocked in with a personal-best time
- A day removed from earning the 10,000m victory, Emma Cary nearly went two-for-two as she was the runner-up finisher in the 5000m on Sunday
- Cary crossed the line just 4.07 seconds behind the first place finisher (CCSU's Dawn Hubbell) with a personal-best time of 17:41.12
- SHU's depth continued to show well as Olivia Weiss placed seventh in her first career 5000m appearance, clocking in at 18:14.41
- Thorne continued her strong day with an eighth place finish in the event, crossing the line with her second personal-best time of the day (18:16.02)
- Erika Johnson (39.97m) and Madelyn Bradway (39.39m) placed third and fourth, respectively, as the pairing combined to score 11 points in the event for SHU
- SHU's success in the throwing events continued as Brianna Lavinier posted a personal-best throw of 12.75m to earn a fourth place finish
- Samantha Curran added two points with her seventh place result, throwing a mark of 11.87m
- Weiss placed third in a tightly-contested race where the top four finishers all clocked in within two seconds of one-another
- Weiss crossed the line in 4:45.77 to earn third and six points for SHU in the event
- Bianca De Lucia picked up a seventh place result with her time of 4:52.48
- Jillian Kilmer ran the best 100m hurdles race of her career, clocking in with a personal-best time of 14.68 seconds to earn third place
- Kilmer has made a steady climb up the NEC standings in her three seasons thus far as a Pioneer, placing 12th in the 2017 NEC Championships and earning eighth in 2018
- Antonia Hoyos finished in eighth place with a mark of 11.10m
- Brianna DeGennaro just missed out of a top eight finish as the sophomore posted a 11.09m to place ninth in the event
- The team of Adriana Forcucci, Tara Brody, DeGennaro and Tanaya Wade clocked in at 51.49 seconds to earn one point with an eighth place result
The championship season continues next weekend as the Pioneers head to the New England Championships (May 10-11 held at Southern Conn. St.) and the IC4A Championships (May 11-12 held at Princeton University).