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DES MOINES, Iowa - With the second-best time of her career, University of Pennsylvania sophomore distance runner Leslie Kovach finished 18th at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Women's Track and Field Championships on Drake University's distinct blue track at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday night.
The official All-America announcements will come shortly after the conclusion of the meet, but with her performance on Friday, Kovach is set to be named just the second outdoor All-American in school history. The only Penn women's outdoor All-American is Chris Lundy who accomplished the feat in the 3,000 meters in 1992.
Kovach started near the back of the pack and made a move up about halfway through the race. She finished in 16:16.10 to place 18th in the nation. The only time the time the Norwin High School product put up a better time was when she set the school record at the Penn Relays in April (16:11.59).
Kovach was the first Penn women's athlete to reach the finals of the NCAA Outdoor Championships since Jesse Carlin, C'08, did so in the 800 meters in 2008. Kovach automatically qualified for the NCAA championship meet when she finished among the top five in her heat on May 28 at the NCAA East Preliminary Round in Bloomington, Ind. Overall, she finished sixth with a time of 16:16.16.
Kovach, who is the school record-holder in the indoor 5,000 meters as well as the 10,000 meters, closed a stellar 2010-11 campaign. She was All-Ivy and all-region during the cross country season. Then during the indoor track season, she earned All-East honors in the 5,000 meters. In the outdoor campaign, Kovach claimed All-East honors in the 3,000 meters. The Irwin, Pa., native also ranks among the top six all-time at Penn in both the indoor and outdoor 3,000 meters.
Several Quakers will be competing later this month at the USA Junior Track and Field Championships, June 23-25. PennAthletics.com will have a full recap of all the Penn performances.