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Sprinter-hurdler Christina Manning wins OSU’s Female Athlete of the Year

After winning a number of awards and honors throughout her career, 2012 graduate and sprinter and hurdler Christina Manning claimed another Tuesday when she was named the Ohio State 2011-12 Female Athlete of the Year.

The announcement, which made Manning the first women’s track and field athlete to win the award since Donica Merriman in 2001, came three days after Manning won the national title in Saturday’s 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Manning completed the race in 12.89 seconds, holding off Clemson redshirt junior Brianna Rollins by just .02 seconds to win the NCAA title. With her victory, Manning became only the second outdoor national champion in OSU women’s track and field history, joining Merriman, whose national championship also came in 100-meter hurdles in 2001.

Manning said winning a national title was meaningful for her.

“It feels amazing,” Manning said in a press release. “I had to leave it all on the track.”

Head coach Karen Dennis praised Manning.

“Manning has been dominant in the 100-meter hurdles all year long, and she has again proven she’s the best collegiate hurdler in the country,” Dennis said in a press release. “She’s excited to have won and to move on to the next phase in her career … This championship will never be forgotten.”

The OSU women scored 14 points in the championship meet, which began last Wednesday and concluded Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. Manning’s individual victory scored 10 points for the team, and she was also part of the 4×100-meter relay team which scored four points. Manning, senior Christienne Linton, sophomore Aisha Cavin and junior Chesna Sykes combined to complete the relay in 43.88 seconds, which was good for a fifth-place finish.

Manning, who is currently ranked ninth among all athletes worldwide in the 100-meter hurdles, plans to compete in the United States Olympic Trials, which will be held from June 21-July 1 in Eugene, Ore. Manning must finish in the top three at the trials to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

OSU’s point total earned them a 21st-place finish in the meet, their highest overall finish since 2001. Dennis said she was proud of her team’s effort.

“(Saturday) was a very good day for our women’s track and field team,” Dennis said. “Our year has had many memorable moments.”

OSU men’s track and field also ended up with a top-25 team finish by scoring 12 points in the meet, a result of three Buckeyes scoring points by finishing among the top eight in their events. The Buckeyes finished 23rd, their highest overall finish since 2000, while scoring their highest point total since 1993.

OSU’s highest scorer was redshirt senior Cory Leslie, who finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 8 minutes, 40.98 seconds.

Men’s track and field interim head coach Ed Beathea correctly predicted prior to the NCAA East Prelims that Leslie would be among the top finishers at the national championship meet.

“Cory Leslie is probably in a great spot to really make an impact on the national championship meet,” Beathea told The Lantern on May 22.

2012 graduate and thrower Matt DeChant and sophomore sprinter/hurdler Antonio Blanks also scored points for the Buckeyes. DeChant placed fifth in shot put with a throw of 19.57 meters, his best throw of the season. Blanks finished seventh in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.49 seconds.

Manning, the women’s 4x100m relay team, Leslie, DeChant and Blanks each earned First-Team All-American recognition for their finishes in the top eight places.

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