In Knights Under Lights, The Daily Targum looks at athletes who distinguished themselves during their time on the Banks.
For many athletes who played on the Banks, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team was an honor they could only dream of. Former Rutgers track and field and cross country superstar Julie Culley had that dream turn into a reality when she became the 37th Scarlet Knight to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Culley had many experiences during her time at Rutgers that served as stepping stones to London. At the start of her collegiate career, Culley ran the Mile Short Track and the 3,000-meter Short Track, finishing first in both contests at the 2001 and 2003 New York Metropolitan Indoor Track Championships, respectively.
In 2002, Culley began to expand her horizons with new events like the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races. She finished third in the 3,000-meter race at the 2002 Lou Onesty/Milton G. Abramson Invitational in Charlottesville. She also competed in four 5,000-meter races that year, only coming off the podium once. Culley was also named a 2002 NCAA Cross Country All-American.
The following year, Culley focused her attention on the 3,000-meter races and dominated those as well. The future Olympic runner competed in four competitions and finished first in two, earning an NCAA qualification for the event.
In 2004, Culley continued to build off her impressive performances. She finished first in the 1,500-meter race in the 2004 West Long Branch Monmouth Invitational with a time of 4:37.00. She went on to compete in the Mile Short Track at the 2004 New York NYU Last Chance Meet and the 5,000-meter race at the 2004 Durham Duke Invitational, finishing fifth and second respectively.
Culley finished her career as a Knight being named New Jersey's NCAA Women of the Year and holds the University records in the indoor 3,000-meter and the outdoor 5,000-meter races. She also won six Metropolitan Championship titles.
Culley continued to race after her collegiate career, earning top-five finishes at multiple events. She showed her dominance in the U.S. Olympic Trials, winning the women's 5,000-meter race to earn a spot at the 2012 Olympics. Culley finished fifth in the first heat of the women's 5,000-meter race and placed 14th overall at the 2012 Olympics.
Culley was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. She is currently the director of track and field and cross country at Georgetown University, where she shares her talent with the Hoyas just as she did during her time on the Banks.
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