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McMillen takes sixth in steeplechase to become 1st Pioneer women's track All-American

Nicole McMillen placed sixth in the steeplechase to become the first All-American in Tusculum women's track and field (photo by Josh Manck)
Nicole McMillen placed sixth in the steeplechase to become the first All-American in Tusculum women's track and field (photo by Josh Manck)

KINGSVILLE, Texas --- Nicole McMillen became Tusculum University's first All-American in women's outdoor track and field with a sixth-place finish in the steeplechase at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championship Friday night at Javelina Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M Kingsville.

McMillen ran 10:42.69 in the finals of the steeplechase to earn All-America status, nearly 16 seconds faster than her preliminary time on Thursday night. Competing in a field of 12 runners, the senior from Pickering, Ontario ran in the lead pack for the first 2/3 of the race before the leaders pulled away with 800 meters to go in the 3,000-meter race. She finished 4 1/2 seconds behind fifth-place Hanna Groeber of Grand Valley State and was a comfortable 7 1/2 seconds in front of seventh-place Mackenzie Kelly of Augustana.

The water pit provided little relief to the runners as temperatures remained in the mid 80s in the South Texas twilight, with the heat index close to 90 at the 7:15 local time start. Even with the oppressive conditions, the field ran nearly 30 seconds faster than in Thursday's prelims.

Alicja Konieczek of Western Colorado won the national championship for the third straight year with a time of 10:23.89, followed by Eilish Flanagan of Adams State in 10:26.41 and Julia Howley of Simon Fraser in 10:27.05. HaLeigh Hunter-Galvan of Adams State was fourth in 10:33.49, followed by Groeber and McMillen. Kelly and Megan Wenham of Colorado Mines were the seventh and eighth-place finishers, respectively, to round out the podium.

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