Division II Champ Neely Spence Turns Pro

She's a 15:27 5K runner.

She’s a 15:27 5K runner.

Neely Spence is coached by her father. Photo: PennLive

Written by: David Monti (c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Neely Spence, the reigning NCAA Division II 5000m and cross country champion, has decided to turn professional, according to the athletics department at Shippensburg University where she competed.

“Today, Shippensburg University senior Neely Spence began her dream to become an Olympian by signing a contract with an agent to begin her career as a professional runner,” read the release, dated Dec. 26.

Spence, 21, who has a 5000m personal best of 15:27.72, finished seventh in that event at the USA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., last June and went on to represent the United States at the Pan Am Games, where she finished eighth.  Spence won eight NCAA Division II national championships: six in track & field and two in cross-country.

“Ever since I began my competitive career in eighth grade, I have wanted to become a professional distance runner,” Spence said through the news release. “This is what I have strived for over the last eight years. Finally, I have the opportunity to embody this dream. I have climbed to the peak of one mountain, and am about to start at the base of another.”

According to a written interview Spence gave to, she has signed with Flynn Sports Management of Gray, Tenn.

Spence was coached during her college career by her father, Steve, the World Championships Marathon bronze medalist in 1991.