Melissa Gergel finished her collegiate career the same way she ended her outstanding prep career at Marian Catholic -- with a championship.
The Oregon senior won the pole vault at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday night. Gergel, the 2007 Illinois Class AA pole vault champ, tied a women's NCAA meet record by going 14 feet, 7 1/4 inches. Arkansas' Tina Sutej also vaulted 14-7 1/4, but Gergel won with fewer misses.
"It's amazing, I am so excited," Gergel said. "This was my last chance and it is a great way to go out ."
She said after she hit 14-7 1/4, she felt like she was in control.
"Once I did that, made 4.40 meters, I told myself, 'I am going to win,'" said Gergel, who is a Glenwood resident. "I knew as it got later, people were getting tired and it would be more difficult to make the clearance.
"I was glad I cold make a difference and help my team."
Gergel is the program's second pole vault champion. Becky Holliday won in 2003.
The Ducks finished second for the third straight year. Texas A&M won with 49 points, four better than the Ducks.
"It kind of made it bittersweet," Gergel said. "We really wanted to go out with a championship, but I guess that's the way it goes in the world of track and field."
Southern Illinois thrower Jeneva McCall earned her second All-America honor in as many days. After taking second in the hammer throw on Friday, the Thornridge grad took seventh in the shot put with a toss of 55-5 1/2. She hit that mark on her last throw.
"I knew this was it and I let it go and it was my best throw," McCall said. "I wanted to make All-America 15 times, but not (qualifying) in the discus, I knew I could only make 14. If I wouldn't have made it in the shot put, then I could only get 13 and that is not good enough."
McCall has won All-America honors nine times in three seasons. She was the NCAA discus champ last year, but did not qualify for the NCAA Championships this season.