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UNH's Purrier headed to NCAA track championships

May 26. 2018 10:36PM
Elinor Purrier of the University of New Hampshire takes control of the race early to win her quarterfinal heat Saturday at the NCAA East Preliminary Round meet at USF Track and Field Stadium at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. (USA TODAY Sports)

University of New Hampshire track and field standout Elinor Purrier did it again on Saturday.

Purrier led start to finish to set a New England collegiate outdoor record and win her quarterfinal heat of the women's 1,500-meter run at the University of South Florida in Tampa to earn another trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, to be held June 6-9 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Purrier crushed her own school record to grab the heat in a time of 4 minutes, 10.90 seconds and had the best time of the 24 runners competing in two heats. Danea Rivers of Penn State had the second fastest time at 4:11.75.

Purrier's effort also set a New England collegiate outdoors record in the 1,500. The previous mark of 4:11.94 was set by Olympian Abbey D'Agostino in 2014. Purrier's previous UNH record was 4:14.48.

This is the fourth time Purrier will compete in the Outdoor finals. Each of the three previous times she has advanced in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and earned first-team All American honors at the finals.

Purrier won the NCAA mile title at the Indoor Championships in Texas in March. This is her first time competing in the 1500 - the metric mile - at the NCAA level.

"We're really happy with the weekend, to have Elle and (thrower) Mike (Shanahan) qualify for the NCAA Finals, just like they did indoors" said UNH coach Robert Hoppler. "We couldn't be happier as a staff. It's fantastic for Mike and fantastic for Elle and fantastic for Coach (Jim) Boulanger and the whole program."

Purrier, who had the fastest time in Thursday's first round of the 1,500, took Saturday's second heat out early and led at every checkpoint of the race.

The winning time in the first heat was a 4:14.22 turned in by Clemson senior Grace Barnett.

PSU All-American

Plymouth State junior Sam Brunnette captured All-America honors with a fourth place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2018 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Saturday afternoon.

Brunnette crossed the finish line in 9:14.23, 0.12 seconds shy of a top-three performance. As he did in the preliminaries on Thursday, Brunnette sat back at the end of the pack before making a strong push in the middle to late stages of the race. He moved into 11th with three laps remaining, then made a move to the inside to climb into the seventh spot. In the closing lap he made a final push to reach the top four.

Brunnette was the top New England finisher, edging junior Scott Mason of Connecticut College by 0.63 seconds. Mason finished fifth. Junior Aidan Gilson of MIT was the third competitor from New England. He grabbed the final All-American spot, finishing eighth in 9:16.04. Senior Mark Fairley of Central College was the national champion with a time of 9:04.50.