USI track All-American heads to nationals

New Media Producer: Mike Mardis

USI Sophomore Mary Ballinger is heading to the NCAA Division 2 Outdoor Track and Field Championships next week at Walnut, California.

Ballinger will compete in the women's 3,000 meter steeplechase, an event she ranks 3rd nationally with a season best time of 10:48:49. An All-American in both Cross Country and Track, Ballinger will be competing on the national stage for the 3rd time, and she said she's ready.

"This time around I am preparing to hopefully go out and win," Ballinger said, "Before it was always to place as high as I could and be an All-American. I am setting the bar high I guess.

Mike Hillyard, USI's track coach, said Ballinger is a solid competitor.

"Mary has great race instincts," Hillyard said, "When she is prepared, you don't have to worry about her making bad decisions during the race. Some kids just have an innate ability to know what to do in a race situation."

The preliminaries for the steeplechase are set for next Thursday night, the 22nd. Finals are set for Saturday night, the 24th.

All-American status is awarded to the top 8 finishers.