O’Brien leads track team to strong spring start

Sophomore Dena O’Brien trimmed six seconds off her own school record on her way to a victory in the 5,000-meter run at the prestigious New Balance Invitational in New Balance Invitational in New York.

O’Brien’s time of 16:40.39 led the 35-runner field by six seconds, and was more than 30 seconds better than her time at the same meet last season.

Freshman Haley McMahon placed 19th in the collegiate division of the mile-run at New Balance in 5:07.96, the fourth-fastest time in school history. Alyssa D’Orazio finished 20th in the 800-meter run in a time of 2:16.36, third-best in school history, followed by teammates Kristen Wolfe (60th, 2:22.85) and McMahon (70th, 2:28.12).

At the Kent Taylor Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C., on the same weekend, freshman Tiffany Sisk posted a heave of 40 feet, 5.5 inches to place fourth in the shot put, while sophomore Christa Horrocks finished eighth in the 400-meter dash in a time of 1:00.90.

The following weekend at Clemson’s Tiger Paw Invitational, the distance medley relay team of O’Brien, Wolfe, Alyssa Kowolenko and Dana Walsh took third place in a time of 12:21.68, the third-fastest time in school history.

The Cougars will not compete this weekend as they prepare for the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 23-24.


In addition to her record-setting performances on the track, O’Brien was also named to Division I All-Academic Cross Country status.

To qualify for the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must maintain a 3.25 grade-point average and have earned either All-America status or finished in the top 15 in an NCAA region. O’Brien finished 11th in the 2011 Southeast Regional, missing the cut-off for the national championship by less than 10 seconds.

O’Brien was one of 104 women’s NCAA DI athletes from 67 institutions to earn this honor.



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