Former Panther runs in NCAA meet

Published 4:48 pm Thursday, June 2, 2011

Former Pelham High School track and field standout Dena O'Brien, a freshman at College of Charleston, leads a competitor from Columbia University during the women's 5K race in the NCAA East Preliminary track and field meet at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. (Contributed)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

Former Pelham High School track and field standout Dena O’Brien recently competed in the NCAA East Preliminary meet May 28 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

O’Brien, a freshman at the College of Charleston, was the Cougars’ lone representative at the NCAA East Preliminary. O’Brien finished 17th in individual standings in the women’s 5K race in the preliminary meet with her time of 16:35.63.

O’Brien entered the meet with the 19th best time in the field of 48 runners with her personal best and school record of 16:21.35, which she ran March 25 at the Raleigh Relays.

O’Brien placed 61st overall in the women’s 6K individual standings, setting a new College of Charleston school record crossing the line in 21:46.30.

O’Brien, running in her first 6k of her collegiate career, shattered the previous record of 22:05.70, set by Ashley Arnold at the NCAA regional meet in 2004.

O’Brien fell just short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa in her first season at the College of Charleston.

O’Brien has set seven school records this season and her coach Amy Seago thinks she has improved dramatically.

“Dena is doing workouts now that I don’t even know if she thought she would be capable of doing at the beginning of this season,” Seago said. “I’m very proud of the dedication she has put in this year.”

O’Brien set a total of eight school record in cross country and track & field, was the cross country Freshman of the Year in the Southern Conference and captured two Southern Conference titles in the indoor and outdoor 5,000-meter races.

In the indoor 5K, O’Brien shattered the College of Charleston school record and broke a 22-year-old conference record en route to lapping the entire field and winning the race by over a minute.

O’Brien finished first or second in 13 of her 16 races during the track & field season and set school records in 12 of her 16 races.