Championship caps sophomore season for Seton Hill star

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 11:57 p.m.

Apparently Mallory Sanner never received any notice of or paid any mind to the so-called “sophomore jinx.”

Rather than regress after an excellent freshman season at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, the track and field and basketball standout from Uniontown High School simply improved and attained unprecedented success during a memorable 2012-13 athletic year.

Sanner concluded her sophomore season by becoming the first national champion in school history after she earned first place in the javelin at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl at Pueblo, Colo.

In 2012 she finished fifth nationally and became the first female Griffin athlete to earn NCAA All American honors. Her throw of 48.09 meters gave her the highest finish for a freshman in the javelin at the national championships.

She opened the 2013 championships with a throw of 45.90 meters and then followed that with a throw of 44.80 meters before finishing her preliminary throws with a toss of 49.43 meters. That throw put her in first place after the first flight and would stand throughout the rest of the competition for the national title.

The throw of 49.43 meters is a new personal record for Sanner and a new Seton Hill record. That throw is the eighth best throw in Division II history. Sanner entered the championships with the 12th best throw in Division II during the 2013 season.

“Last season (2012) I finished fifth, and I set my goal to be in the top three this year,” Sanner said. “Throwing in the first flight, it gave me a chance to go out and set a mark to beat. My first throw was my best of the season and after an OK second throw, my third throw just felt perfect. I knew it was my best ever when it left my hand.”

She added, “It was nerve-racking watching the second flight. I entered the finals knowing I was leading and three throws away from a national championship. Since I was throwing last in the finals I knew I would have a chance to match anyone's throw. When the final competitor made her throw, I heard the roar of the crown, and when the mark of 48.18 meters was announced, I knew that I was a national champion.“

Sanner becomes just the second student-athlete to win a national championship in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (WVIAC) Division II history, joining Concord (W.Va.) University's Shawnee Carnett, who won the 800-meter event at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Earlier this season, Mallory defended her WVIAC javelin championship with her second straight title at the conference championship meet. Her repeat championship helped Seton Hill's women's squad win a third straight league title.

This past April Sanner was named the 2013 Westmoreland YWCA Sportswoman of the Year. She was honored at an awards banquet at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center in Greensburg. The award is open to any resident of Westmoreland County or anyone who attends a school in Westmoreland County.

The multisport star was also recently selected as a U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All Academic honoree.

To earn the honor, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.25 grade-point average and have had a provisional or qualifying mark for either the NCAA indoor or outdoor championships.

Sanner has been a member of the Seton Hill Dean's List for all five of her semesters and the women's basketball team, that she is also a member of, was in the top 10 the past two seasons in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division II Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll.

During the recent basketball season Sanner helped Seton Hill reach the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship game for the first time in program history.

In the 61-49 victory over Charleston, Sanner came off the bench to score nine points and pull down eight rebounds along with making two assists and one steal. She also pulled down eight rebounds and scored five points in 17 minutes of action in Seton Hill's nine-point loss to Fairmont State in the title game.

For the season, Sanner played in 29 games and averaged five points and 4.1 rebounds per game. She shot 46 percent from the floor (57-123) and 46 percent from three-point range (15-33). Sanner also added 24 steals, 22 assists and three blocks while averaging 13 minutes of play per game.

Sanner recorded a conference-best eight steals in a victory over Davis & Elkins and helped Seton Hill compile a 19-13 final overall record.

Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.

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