Seton Hill sophomore javelin star reflects on national championship
May 25 was a day of records for Seton Hill sophomore Mallory Sanner.
Not only did she post the eighth-longest javelin throw in NCAA Division II history, setting both a personal and school record, but she also became the school's first national champion in any sport at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl at Colorado State-Pueblo.
“It means a lot to me,” Sanner said. “I just like to represent Seton Hill as best I could and, being a sophomore on the track and doing what I did, it means a lot.”
Entering the event as the No. 12 seed, Sanner's final throw of 49.43 meters in the preliminary round was all she would need to claim the title.
Sanner credits her fifth-place finish in last year's championship meet to better prepare her not only to perform well in this year's meet, but take home a gold medal.
“I went in last year and didn't know what to expect,” she said. “I had been in a few bigger meets last year, but going there you could definitely tell they were bigger and better girls than what I usually see around here. But going into this year I knew what to expect. I knew what the throwing facilities looked like. I knew what I was getting myself into.”
After setting the record mark in the final throw of the preliminary round, Sanner went on to throw distances of 47, 46.58 and 47.79 meters in the finals.
For the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Field Athlete of the Year and Uniontown High School alum, Sanner might have picked the last and biggest meet of the season to set a personal record, but for Seton Hill head coach Tim Creamer that comes as no surprise.
“It was huge because she's really a big-time performer when it comes to game day,” he said. “She steps up on game day and usually does her best in that situation. She's just a great competitor.”
But Sanner's victory didn't come easy.
During early practice sessions before the NCAA meet, one of her throws went out of bounds, bending the tip of her javelin and making it unusable for the meet. While Sanner typically used a 50- or 60-meter javelin, she borrowed a much longer one than she was accustomed to for the championship round.
“I threw a 70-meter javelin that I had never thrown before, but I guess it was for the best,” she said.
“We decided on a 70-meter javelin, she felt comfortable with it, felt like she was strong enough to throw it because it's a little different than what she's used to,” Creamer said. “It ended up working out for us.”
With two years of eligibility remaining, Sanner has set lofty goals for herself going forward to defend the title in her junior and senior seasons.
“I would really like to be the defending national champion for the next two years that I throw,” she said. “As long as I get top three I'll be pretty happy. As of now, I'm going to go into the next two years knowing that I could be the national champion for the next two years.”
In addition to Sanner's postseason honors, teammate Jeannie Bujdos was named the WVIAC's Track Athlete of the Year. Sanner and Bujdos join Calsie Boyd, Josh Wilks and Erin Beattie as Griffins to earn either WVIAC Track or Field Athlete of the Year Awards
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.