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Blankenship bests own school record at track nationals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Wesleyan graduate Lauren Blankenship set a new Samford record and earned All-American honors by finishing ninth in the 5,000-meter run Friday night at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.

Blankenship's time of 16 minutes, 3.22 seconds broke her own Samford record of 16:06, set in Wednesday's prelim. Blankenship was Samford's first Division I All-American in 2005.

Another Gwinnett grad, Kathleen Turchin, was 13th in the 5,000. The North Gwinnett product set a new Tennessee-Chattanooga school record in the prelim and ran the finals in 16:34.39.

The race was won by Wake Forest's Michelle Sikes, who ran it an NCAA meet record 15:16.76.

Nicole Brown, who graduated from Collins Hill, had a disappointing end to her collegiate career. The Georgia Southern senior failed to qualify for the finals in the triple jump. The Southern Conference Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year and Indoor Field Athlete of the Year came up short of qualifying for Saturday's championship round by less than 8 inches.

"Unfortunately, it all didn't come together when she needed it to," head coach Natalie Smith said. "But I'm very proud of her, and although her marks weren't what she wanted, she represented Georgia Southern very well."

Brown is the first Georgia Southern female track and field athlete to make nationals.