The Fairview, W.Va., native ran a personal-best time of 4:16.05 en route to finishing 15th overall. Nike's Shannon Rowbury posted the top time of 4:11.75 in the event. The top six times in each heat qualified for Sunday's 1,500m finals.
"I would say that was the greatest race she has ever run in her life," Head Coach Sean Cleary says. "Not only was it a personal best, but to handle the pressure as a sophomore in college against the greatest runners in the country is thrilling beyond belief."
Only two competitors currently with college track programs finished ahead of Bland: Baylor's Lauren Hagans (14th – 4:15.01) and Tennessee's Sarah Bowman (11th – 4:13.29). Bland just recently completed her sophomore season at West Virginia and became the first female to earn All-America honors in three sports in the same school year.
Also, WVU gymnastics Coach Linda Burdette announced today the hiring of Travis Doak as an assistant coach. A native of Beverly, W.Va., Doak comes to WVU after serving as an assistant coach at Penn State last season where he was responsible for recruiting, team training, spotting on all skill levels and administrative duties. His primary coaching responsibilities included oversight of the Nittany Lion vault and floor exercise. He helped PSU sign four top 10 junior Olympic finalists, and helped guide the Nittany Lions to a 17-9 record.
"We are very excited to have Travis join the West Virginia University gymnastics staff," Burdette said. "His enthusiasm and technical knowledge of the sport will be a great addition to our program. We believe Travis will have an immediate impact on our total program."
Doak also served as an assistant at East Atlantic Gymnastics League rival New Hampshire in 2006-07. His responsibilities included budgeting, team workouts, recruiting, video work and community service initiatives. He began his coaching career in 2004 as a volunteer coach at West Virginia, working with spotting, fundraising and recruit evaluations. Doak earned his bachelor's degree from West Virginia in sport management in 2006. He also obtained a master's degree from West Virginia in athletic coaching education.