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Buchalski finishes second in nation at NCAA Championships

Allie Buchalski of Furman passes Oregon's Lillie Burdon, Stanford's Vanessa Fraser and Washington's Amy-Eloise Neale on the final lap of the 5,000-meter run at the 2018 NCAA Track Championships.

As Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer crossed the finish line Saturday night in the NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships to win her second straight national title in the 5,000-meter run, ESPN commentator Dwight Stones suddenly became aware of the streak of purple that had been gobbling up other runners and closing fast on Schweizer down the homestretch.

“And Allie Buchalksi of Furman?” he said. “Is that who that is in second place? My goodness!”

That marked the first and only time Buchalski’s name was said during the live broadcast of the second-to-last event of the meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, but her remarkable performance against the deepest and most talented field she had ever faced will live forever as one of the greatest accomplishments achieved by any Furman athlete.

Watch Buchalski’s impressive homestretch kick

Buchalski finished sixth last year in the 5000 to become the first female first-team All-American in outdoor track in school history, but nine of her competitors Saturday had run significantly faster than her career best. In what she predicted would be “the hardest race I’ve ever been in,” however, Buchalski stayed near the leaders throughout the first 11 laps of the 12.5-lap race.

After briefly falling about 20 meters behind with 200 meters to go the John’s Creek, Georgia, native found another gear and surged past four runners on her way to the highest finish at a national championship of any Paladin ever.

“It actually kind of surprised me how much ground I was covering in the last 150 (meters) or so, but that’s something I’ve been practicing and to be able to put it together at a championship – it’s nice to see all the pieces fall into place,” Buchalski told FloTrack.

Buchalski’s performance capped a banner week for Furman track and field, which sent a record five athletes to college track’s biggest stage and brought home two second-team All-America honors in Savannah Carnahan ’20 in the 5000 and Frank Lara ’18 in the men’s 10,000-meter run as well as honorable mention All-America accolades for Gabrielle Jennings ’20 and Kristlin Gear ’21 in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

For a complete rundown of Furman’s performance in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, visit FurmanPaladins.com.

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