MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Distance runners Stephanie Caruso
and Jessica O’Connell finished competition for West Virginia at the Stanford Invitational with league-qualifying times late Friday evening in Palo Alto, Calif.
O’Connell competed in section two of the 1,500-meter run with success as she finished in second place with a BIG EAST-qualifying time of 4:20.91, easily clearing the 4:38.44 standard. The time was just two seconds past her career-best time of 4:18.31 from the 2010 outdoor season. Caroline King of Boston College finished a half-second ahead of O’Connell in 4:20.25 for the victory.
“This has been a long but successful road back from a nagging injury Jessica sustained last year,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “We are very excited to have her rounding back into the shape that saw her win the BIG EAST 3,000 meter last winter.”
A Wheeling, W.Va., native, Caruso met the BIG EAST qualification time of 37:03.74 for the 10,000-meter run as she placed 30th in section two of the event in 35:05.60. It was her first career 10,000-meter run.
“Caruso ran the race of her life to run into the NCAA Championships,” Cleary says. “She was amazing tonight. She had to go through the 5,000-meter mark in a lifetime best in order to be with the field. We don’t know what performance marks are required to make the regional meet, but both O’Connell and Caruso easily made the cut last year.
“We had a very successful trip out west and I’m proud of the group we brought,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “The trip paid off in a big way.”
The Mountaineers next compete April 13-14 at the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus, Ohio.