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Germany Edges McNaney, Team USA in Thorpe Cup Heptathlon

August 19, 2007  Bernhausen, Germany  RSS
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Danielle McNaney recorded the fifth-highest heptathlon score at the Thorpe Cup, but Team USA was edged by 13 points at the end of the competition with host Germany. (Photo by Pete Aiken)

Danielle McNaney recorded the fifth-highest heptathlon score at the Thorpe Cup, but Team USA was edged by 13 points at the end of the competition with host Germany. (Photo by Pete Aiken)

For the second-consecutive year, the U.S. versus Germany heptathlon challenge, this year labeled the Thorpe Cup, featured a comeback victory. This time around, the results did not favor the American squad, which included 2005 Liberty graduate Danielle McNaney. The host Germans pulled out a 13-point win in the two-day event, which wrapped up Sunday in the city of Bernhausen.

A year ago, McNaney posted the top score on the U.S. team, helping her squad nip the German side in the final event of the Nike Combined Events Challenge, held in Manhattan, Kan. The 2006 event marked the inaugural heptathlon competition between the two nations. This weekend, Germany evened the score with its 16,946-16,933 triumph, after trailing by 400 points at the end of day one.

The Americans had to choose four athletes to score, prior to the start of the Thorpe Cup, because Germany only had four competitors at the meet. U.S. coach James Knoedel selected Fiona Asigbee, Jackie Johnson, Lela Nelson and Julie Pickler. As it turned out, Johnson failed to record a legal mark in the shot put and Asigbee had to pull out of the competition after the javelin, due to injury. These factors helped open the door for Germany's victory in front of its enthusiastic home fans.

Even though her performance did not count toward the American total, McNaney took advantage of the sunny, mid-70s weather conditions and recorded one of the best heptathlon scores of her career. Her point total of 5,638, which ranked fifth among the 11 heptathletes present and third on Team USA, was just 35 points shy of her career high. McNaney's effort included a personal-best time of 13.82 seconds for the first of seven events, the 100-meter hurdles. She also ran the fastest 800 meters of the competition, clocking a 2:14.47.

The Thorpe Cup also featured a decathlon competition between Germany and Team USA. The American men's team, paced by Mustafa Abdur-Rahim, was victorious for the fifth-consecutive year, 38,084-36,976.