Ultimate Champion! Laura Barito Wins Second National Title of 2011

Hoboken, NJ – Senior Laura Barito of the Stevens Institute of Technology women’s track and field program became the first National Champion in the program’s history and capped off a remarkable senior season where she won NCAA titles in two different sports after running away with the 400-meter hurdle championship by over a full second at the national championship meet on Saturday. Barito’s time of 59.49 seconds was over one second faster than the national runner-up.

The Arkadelphia, Ark. native came into Saturday’s final seeded second, but shaved a remarkable 1.68 seconds off of her personal best and school-record time set on Thursday to win the NCAA title going away.

This is the second NCAA title in as many sports this year for Barito, who also took home the 50-yard freestyle swimming national championship during the winter. Prior to her win this year in the pool, no Stevens athlete or team had ever won a national title. With her victory on Saturday, Barito now personally owns two.

Sophomore Maggie Kowalska also competed on Saturday, finishing 20th in the nation in the javelin with her throw of 37.47 meters (122’11”).

Barito was the only runner in the nation to finish the 400-meter hurdles under one minute in any race, held at any venue, at any time in 2011.

She also became the first All-American in Stevens track and field history this season.

When asked about how it felt to be a national champion in two sports, Barito replied, “it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I know I wouldn’t have one without the other. Swimming gave me the confidence and let me know I was capable of winning. I just trusted my coaches and trusted my training.”

During the race, Barito trailed the leader halfway through at the 200-meter mark. Then, she said, “The last half was just a blur. I knew it was my last race as a Stevens athlete, and I made sure to leave every ounce of effort on the track.”

Head coach John Crawford continued: “The race finished into a pretty strong headwind. As they came down the stretch, we could see Laura explode out of the turn and the rest of the field fade back. Laura was just physically stronger than the rest of the athletes in the race.”

After last season - where Barito was the last athlete cut from the national championship field – she and Crawford settled on two goals. “One was to be sure and qualify for nationals,” said Crawford. “Two was to run the 400-hurdles in under 60 seconds. I told Laura if she could do that, the rest would take care of itself.”

“We hope that this win validates our program and our efforts and shows that we’re on our way to becoming a high-caliber track and field power,” said Crawford after the program’s first national title. “It really began last year when Salme Cook and Maggie Kowalska opened the door by earning the school’s first trips to the national championships, proving success is not an accident.”

“Laura leaves a legacy of hope and inspiration to both our returning athletes as well as an outstanding group of incoming recruits this fall.”

For her part, Barito is unsure whether she will continue to pursue track or swimming as she continues her athletic career after college. “I enjoyed both my seasons so much this year,” she said. On Saturday, she proved that she can do both if she likes.

The women’s outdoor track and field program closes its most successful year ever in 2011 with its first national champion, its first All-American, a 19th-place team finish at the NCAA Championships and an eighth-place showing at the ECAC’s.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Founded in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University™, lives at the intersection of industry, academics and research.  The University's students, faculty and partners leverage their collective real-world experience and culture of innovation, research and entrepreneurship to confront global challenges in engineering, science, systems and technology management.

Based in Hoboken, N.J. and with a location in Washington, D.C., Stevens offers baccalaureate, master’s, certificates and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences and management, in addition to baccalaureate degrees in business and liberal arts.  Stevens has been recognized by both the US Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Excellence in the areas of systems engineering and port security research. The University has a total enrollment of more than 2,350 undergraduate and 3,600 graduate students with almost 450 faculty. Stevens’ graduate programs have attracted international participation from China, India, Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America as well as strategic partnerships with industry leaders, governments and other universities around the world.  Additional information may be obtained at www.stevens.edu and www.stevens.edu/news.