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Jan. 30, 2006
CONTACT: Ward Mullens
734.487.4400
ward.mullens@emich.edu

EMU track athlete named finalist for "Michigan's Best" honor

YPSILANTI - As the winner of the NCAA heptathlon title in 2005, Eastern Michigan University track and field athlete Lela Nelson (’05) is used to being in elite company.

            Her next competition is no different. It will pit her against Detroit Piston Chauncey Billups, Detroit Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. She’s up against the best athletes in the state and she can’t win without help.

            Nelson, of Detroit, is one of 22 Michigan athletes to be named a finalist for the Detroit Free Press’ “Michigan’s Best” honor. The honor allows fans to vote for the top three athletes, amateur and professional, in Michigan for 2005. Past winners of the award, which was first given out in 1986, include 2004 winner Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons, Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders. No one from EMU has ever won the award.

            Nelson won the heptathlon title and finished third in the long jump at the NCAA track and field competition in Sacramento, Calif. in June. She scored a personal-best 5,878 points in the heptathlon, setting five other personal-best marks after entering the meet seeded 21st. She won the heptathlon long jump (21 feet-2), 100 meter hurdles (13.49 seconds) and 200 meters (23.78). Nelson finished fifth in the heptathlon and 19th in the longjump at the USA outdoor championships in June.

            Anyone can cast a ballot, but all ballots must rank the top three athletes. No ballots without three choices will be count. Only ballots clipped from the Detroit Free Press will be counted. Photocopies of the ballot will not be accepted. All entries must be postmarked by Thursday, Feb. 2. Ballots should be mailed to Michigan’s Best, Detroit Free Press Sports Dept., 600 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226.

            The heptathlon features seven different competitions. Events include the 100 meter hurdles, the high jump, shot, 200 meters, long jump, javelin and 800 meters.

            Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.

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Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.


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