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Gateway alum finding track and field success at Slippery Rock

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Slippery Rock sophomore Samantha Taylor, a Gateway graduate, highlighted the Rock women's performances at the Coastal Carolina University Invitational last Friday in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Taylor won the javelin event with an automatic NCAA Division II qualifying throw of 46.68 meters (153 feet, 2 inches).

She beat the runner-up, High Point's Christine Rickert, by nine feet (144-3)

The throw, a personal best by almost three meters, also puts her in the javelin field for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference meet in May.

Also a member of the jumps team at Slippery Rock, Taylor will be making her second trip to the NCAA championships in as many seasons.

Last year, her first with the Rock, she qualified for the PSAC championships in both the long jump and the javelin.

She placed sixth in the long jump, a personal best, and third in the javelin (41.38 meters).

The throw at PSACs put her in the field at nationals, and she took 15th overall with a mark of 42.02 meters.

Taylor and Slippery Rock continue a tour of South Carolina with a three-day Shamrock Invitational. The meet, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday, also is at Myrtle Beach and hosted by Coastal Carolina University.

Basketball

Gateway grad Barnett Harris and his Delaware Blue Hens teammates will begin the NCAA Tournament on Thursday far from home.

Delaware, the Colonial Athletic Association champions with a 25-9 overall record, will play Big 10 champion Michigan State in a second-round game at about 4:40 p.m. Eastern.

The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT.

The Blue Hens are riding a five-game winning streak, and are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Harris has seen action in 29 games with one start. In his freshman season, he has 88 minutes on the court and is 5 of 6 from the field and 1 of 2 from the free-throw line for 11 points.

He also has collected 20 rebounds and three blocks.

Delaware and Michigan State, meeting for the first time, will be joined in Spokane by Cincinnati, Harvard, Oklahoma, North Dakota State, San Diego State and New Mexico State.

Michigan State finished second in the Big Ten regular season standings with a 12-6 conference mark. The Spartans beat Michigan on Sunday to claim the conference tournament title.

Baseball

It's been a tough start for the University of Pittsburgh baseball team, as the Panthers were 7-10 overall and 1-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference through a doubleheader sweep Saturday at Virginia Tech.

But Gateway grad Stephen Vranka provided some big numbers in Pitt's most recent win – a 10-9 triumph over Presbyterian University in 11 innings on March 12.

Vranka went 4 for 7 at the plate with a home run and a career-high six runs batted in.

His final RBI came in the top of the 11th and was a two-out single that broke a 9-9 tie.

Vranka led off the scoring with a solo home run, his second of the season, in the top of the first.

Through Saturday's doubleheader against Virginia Tech, Vranka was batting .280 (21 of 75) with three doubles, a team-best four triples, the two home runs and 15 RBIs.

The RBI total was second-best on the team, and he also led the Panthers with 11 walks.

Pitt was slated to host Youngstown State on Tuesday and Akron on Wednesday. Both games were to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Panthers host Duke in a three-game ACC series starting Friday at 3 p.m.�

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.co m or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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