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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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year closes with two at ncaa track meet

David Chorney came to Muhlenberg wanting to run the steeplechase and will leave running it at the highest possible level.

Chorney, who graduated from Muhlenberg on Sunday, will travel to Marietta to compete in the steeplechase at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and NCAA track championships Field Championships on Friday. The Mules also will be represented at the national meet by rising senior Alex Faust in the pole vault.

Chorney had some other hurdles to overcome before he could get to the steeple hurdles. A stress fracture freshman year and a sprained ankle the following season delayed his debut in the event. Finally, Chorney was healthy enough last year and ran the event for the first time at Moravian. He broke the school record by more than 16 seconds and hasn’t stopped since.

In six career steeplechase runs, Chorney has broken the school record five times, lowering it from 9:49.72 to 9:11.63. The latter time, set at the Penn Relays a month ago in what Chorney called his most “fluid” race, was the 10th-fastest in Division III this season.

“I expected to keep getting better as I got better going over the hurdles,” said Chorney. “As my hurdle form improved the times David Chorney have come down. Everything came together at the Penn Relays.”

The trip to the NCAAs will be the fifth for Chorney, breaking the school record he shared with assistant coach Will Elson. Chorney competed in the national meet in cross country in each of the last three years and earned All-America honors with the distance medley relay team at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“There’s so much else going on that you have to block out,” said Chorney Alex Faust of running in a national meet. “Penn [Relays] was a big step in the right direction. I was able to block everything else out and focus on what I had to do.”

That experience has proven to be helpful to prior Mule athletes. Both of Muhlenberg’s male outdoor All-Americans – Elson in the 800 in 2003 and John Brodowski in the decathlon in 2005 – were seniors who made multiple trips to the NCAAs.

Chorney will look to follow in their footsteps.

“One of my goals at the beginning of the season was to break 9 minutes,” he said. “I think I can do that if it’s a fast race at the start. And I think it will be – people will keep it honest because not a lot of them are doubling [running more than one event].”

While Chorney’s times have gone down and down, Faust’s pole vaults have gone up and up. She started the “outdoor” season holding the school record at 11-1 and has raised it 12-6 to rank seventh on the Division III performance list.

Outdoor is in quotes because most of this outdoor season was contested indoors for Faust. Windy weather forced the pole vault inside in meets at Muhlenberg and Bucknell and the Centennial Conference Championships at Franklin & Marshall. Although Faust kept vaulting well, she didn’t have a great outdoor mark until clearing the NCAA automatic standard at the Swarthmore Last Chance Meet last Monday.

“I was glad to get one under my belt just before nationals,” she said.

Faust is the first female at Muhlenberg to compete in the NCAA meet both indoors and outdoors. She tied for 13th at the indoor meet in March in a field that includes many of the same competitors she’ll see in Ohio.

“It’s nice to know the competition before you get there, so I think it will work to my advantage,” she said. “Having that experience, I don’t think I’ll be quite so nervous. And since the indoor meet I’ve gone to a new pole, so I have better equipment.

“My goal is to get higher than 12-6,” she added. “I think if I do that I should place.”
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