We are . . . Penn Relays decathlon and heptathlon champions.

Chris Morrisey and Gayle Hunter led a strong Penn State contingent as the two Nittany Lions captured the multi-event competitions yesterday at Franklin Field.

The redshirt sophomores not only won their events - Morrisey in the decathlon and Hunter in the heptathlon - but they eclipsed personal bests as they qualified for the NCAA championships.

Morrisey's 7,014-point total earned him a provisional berth at nationals. Hunter earned an automatic ticket to the NCAA meet June 6-9 in Sacramento, Calif., by tallying 5,606 points.

Hunter easily surpassed the 5,500-point mark needed for entry into nationals. Morrissey cleared the provisional mark of 6,900 but came up short of the 7,500 points needed to qualify automatically.

The field lacked major Division I opposition, so the closest competition for Morrisey and Hunter came from their teammates. Morrisey was followed by fellow Lions Shawn Colligan (6,781) and James Myles (6,391) on the medal stand.

Hunter topped training partner Amber Strouse (4,919), giving Penn State two gold watches - awarded to Relays champions - and three medals overall.

"You can't beat it," Morrisey said. "It just shows that we have good athletes and good training partners. I wouldn't trade them for anything."

Morrisey became the fourth Nittany Lion to claim a decathlon title. Hunter is the first heptathlon champion for Penn State.

Heading into the second day of competition, there wasn't much suspense as to who would win, barring an unforeseen event.

But Morrisey and Hunter did run into tense moments during the throwing events.

In the discus, Morrisey faulted in his first two attempts and had to take a little pepper off his final toss to earn a score. He threw the discus 103 feet.

"It probably cost me 50 points," Morrisey said.

But he rebounded in the pole vault, scaling 13 feet, 111/4 inches, and did what he was told in the javelin throw.

"My coaches basically told me, 'Throw a 160,' and I threw exactly 160," Morrisey said. "And they said, 'You're going to have to run your [tail] off in the 1,500 [meters].' "

Morrisey needed a time of 4 minutes, 43 seconds in the final event. He finished second in 4:41.

"I started getting worried with about 500 or 600 meters to go," Morrisey said. "I was really feeling it. . . . But it's under five minutes of pain. You just have to put yourself through it."

Hunter, meanwhile, faulted in both of her first two javelin tries. She threw it 113 feet, 6 inches, giving the 800-meter final event added meaning.

"I thought I was going to have to run 2:20, but [her coach] told me 2:17," Hunter said. "So that's what I ran."

Hunter is expected to run in the 4x400 today, but it's back to State College for Morrisey.

"Our school only lets us miss 75 hours of class a season," Morrisey said. "So these past two days - that's 18 hours.

"So it's back tonight. I'm not really looking forward to that. I have class in the morning."

The results



1, Chris Morrisey, Penn State, 7,014. 2, Shawn Colligan, Penn State, 6,781. 3, James Myles, Penn State, 6,391. 4, Thomas Dunn, Delaware State, 6,327. 5, Michael Dell, Messiah, 6,243. 6, T.J. Toro, Cornell, 4,476.



1, Gayle Hunter, Penn State, 5,606. 2, Amber Strouse, Penn State, 4,919. 3, Amy Reed, Messiah, 4,860. 4, Maddy Outman, Williams, 4,830. 5, Natoya Baird, Coppin State, 4,814. 6, Kristen Bates, Messiah, 4,344. 7, Christiana Taylor, Cabrini, 4,255. 8, Lisa Chatman, Richard Stockton, 3,817. 9, Jenn Bulger, Salisbury, Md., 3,806. 10, Kara Kopp, Penn, 3,690.