Slippery Rock's Taylor places fourth at NCAA championships
Last year, Gateway graduate Samantha Taylor stood on a javelin runway at the NCAA Division II National Championships for the first time.
The Slippery Rock standout left nationals in Colorado with a 15th-place finish and the desire to get back to the NCAA's biggest stage and improve her spot in the standings.
On Saturday at the championships at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Taylor did just that, as she placed fourth overall and earned All-American honors.
She started the competition with a throw of 45.51 meters (149 feet, 3 inches) on her first attempt of the preliminary round, and that attempt was good enough to put her in the nine-thrower finals.
Taylor earned three more throws in the finals, and she increased her distance with each attempt.
Her final throw, which traveled a distance of 48.99 meters (160 feet, 8 inches) was her best of the meet, best of her season and best of her collegiate career.
It was a deep field for the competition, as nine of the 20 throwers, including Taylor, had met or surpassed the NCAA automatic qualifying standard before nationals.
The All-America honor is awarded to the top eight finishers in each event at nationals.
Western Washington javelin throwers finished 1-2 in the women's javelin.
Bethany Drake, a sophomore, won the national title with a top throw of 165-3 on her first attempt of the finals.
Teammate Katie Reichert, also a sophomore, popped a 165-2 on her final throw of the competition and placed second.
Third place went to Mary Riley, a senior at Central Missouri University, as she tossed a 163-0 on her second attempt of the finals.
Taylor recorded throws of 156-0 and 158-4 in her first two throws of the finals.
Defending national champion Mallory Sanner, a junior from Seton Hill, made the finals and placed seventh with a top throw of 151-3.
Seven of the nine competitors who made the finals had their best throw in one of the three finals attempts.
Taylor's effort in the women's javelin capped off a memorable day in the event.
Earlier on Saturday, Slippery Rock's Dave Reinhardt won the national title in the men's competition.
Taylor didn't waste any time punching her ticket to nationals, as she qualified at an early-season meet in South Carolina.
She continued to work towards preparation for nationals and made her mark at the PSAC Championships on May 3.
She won the PSAC javelin title with a throw of 47.40 meters (155-6) at Shippensburg University, and it was the fourth time she had reached the automatic qualifying standard for nationals.