By Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- At the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Penn State women's basketball head coach Coquese Washington said one of her main priorities was "to get to know the team." With only one senior this season, the Nittany Lion roster was full of underclassmen, which meant new talent and new personalities that Washington needed to braid into the Penn State women's basketball fabric.

Out of the gate, the Nittany Lions were putting up an impressive fight against opponents, despite being a young, inexperienced team. The pre-season WNIT Tournament showed the potential of this team, as two of four losses were determined by a single basket. This mentality of continued growth played out throughout the season, a mentality their record didn't necessarily reflect.

Towards the middle of the season, the Nittany Lions were becoming more aggressive inside the paint and getting better at shot selection. Redshirt sophomore, Sierra Moore and freshman Lindsey Spann were offensive powerhouses, successfully making it into each column of the scoring table. The dynamic duo finished atop not just the scoring chart, but the steals and three-point column, too. This leadership in the scoring position remained steadfast all season, setting the pace for what is likely to be a more successful season next year.

"What I like to see is continued growth," Washington said. "We started to do some good things as we closed out the season. I really want to see our post-game continue to be a bright spot for us next year and to see us grow in our ability to create easy shots."

With the graduation of senior Tori Waldner, the Nittany Lions lose one of their tallest centers on the roster. The 6-foot-5 Lady Lion is leaving behind some big shoes to fill, shoes that junior Candice Agee had started to fill during the end of the season. Agee, who stands at 6-foot-6 has been a strong post player for the Lady Lions, as she led the team in offensive rebounds and blocked shots. Sophomore Kaliyah Mitchell stepped up this season, too. Mitchell is aggressive, a skill that has helped her draw fouls, get the rebound and break up the opposition's scoring drive, as she finished the season with an average of 1.5 steals a game.

"Some of our incoming freshman will definitely fill some of the gaps that we have," Washington said. "Shot opportunity will definitely be a big area for us. I just want to see us build off of where we finished this season. Between April and August we have to make some big steps, individually and collectively as a team."

As the team closes out a rebuilding year, the record doesn't reflect how the team has grown since the pre-season WNIT tournament. If wins and losses define tangible success, but that doesn't always influence or create an environment for a team to get better. The upcoming off-season will be a crucial time for the Lady Lions to come back to the drawing board and adjust, even more, to their roles on the court.

"We just need to learn to rely on each other," Agee said. "We just need to work on figuring out when and how we can get the ball to each other on areas of the court where we can be successful. That comes with knowing each other, and we will only get to know each other better."

"Individual leadership is important," Washington said. "You have to start working and improving now. You're not always going to be in the gym with your teammates or a coach. It isn't always going to be spoon-fed to you; you have to put in lots of time to get better. We talk to them about having individual responsibility. You have to make time to get in the gym and get better."

Coach Washington has been through a similar situation before. When her 2010-11 roster fell short in the NCAA tournament, they were in the gym working shortly after. That season lit a fire under the Lady Lions; it pushed them to get better, to work harder

The following year, the 2011-12 team won the regular season Big Ten Championship, achieving the same success the next two seasons as well.

"I think this group is hungry," Washington said. "They want much better results next year. I have seen this before."

Her faith in this team and their talent has never faltered. If there is one thing the Penn State community knows for sure it is this: Coach Washington knows how to harness drive and passion for the game, something no win or loss column can accurately illustrate.

Here's to looking forward to the 2015-16 season. 

By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - After finishing the regular season with five wins, two second-place finishes and one loss, the Penn State men's gymnastics team hopes to secure the program's third conference title in the Big Ten Championships this weekend in Rec Hall.

"I'm a little anxious, but ultimately excited," said freshman Thad Lawson. "To think the season is almost coming to a close is crazy. The days have been long, but the weeks have just flown by and I've just been really excited for the future."

The Nittany Lions will be reuniting with a handful of teams that they have competed against earlier this season, but the results from those meets are no indication of what the results will be for this weekend.

"I have no idea [what the results will be]," said head coach Randy Jepson. "We haven't shown our best yet and I think we're getting closer to where we can do that."

Penn State has been hard at work these past two weeks in preparation for this weekend. With a conference crown on the line, the Blue and White have been practicing a bit differently, but more strategically.

"We've been doing our routines the way we've been doing them the entire season, but we've been doing more competition-style practices rather than the regular traditional practices where everyone kind of does their own thing, just to get used to having a way around the new routine and put on a little bit of pressure," said senior Tristan Duverglas.

During practices, the men's gymnastics have been mainly focusing on the little details - an important aspect to winning.

"Being consistent and sticking landings [is important]," said head coach Randy Jepson. "The team that hits the most routines and sticks the most dismounts is the team that's going to win this meet."

Duverglas adds that in order to win, it's important to never give up.

"The key to winning is definitely not beating ourselves," said Duverglas. "We've done it in the past where we've kind of over thought things or we didn't go out and do what we needed to do, so I think that's been our biggest flaw. We kind of tip ourselves out of the competition, like we lose meets because we lost them, not necessarily because we did a good job and the other team was better, we just didn't have as good of a meet as we should have."

With this type of practice and better knowledge, the best meets and routines are right in front of the Lions.

"I honestly expect us to perform better than we've performed in the past, especially most recently," said Duverglas. "I think we've gotten to the point where we know exactly what we can do and our biggest thing is that we can't take ourselves out of the competition. We have to stay focus, put all our energy onto us and not worry about what other people are doing."

Duverglas, the captain of the men's gymnastics team, plans to lead the team to success by constantly encouraging his teammates.

"[I'm going to] be there for the team," said Duverglas. "I'll be the loudest one cheering. If someone messes up and falls, I'll let me know that 'It's okay and we all mess up sometimes,' just to get their head back in the game. Being if I mess up, then I get my head back in it and really be a support for everybody."

The Nittany Lions recorded a perfect home record this season and hope to continue that feat as they perform in Rec Hall for the conference title.

"I think [being home has its advantage], but not necessarily score-wise, but just how it feels to compete. Being surrounded by thousands of Penn State fans and people here to cheer us on, that energy is unlike anything else, so being able to have that at home and really immerse ourselves in it, I think it'll give us a bit of a confidence boost."

Even with a competitive atmosphere this weekend, there is a lot respect between all the teams.

"It's going to be a spirited meet and it will be a lot of fun" said coach Jepson. "These guys [in the Big Ten] have grown up together. They've been doing gymnastics together with these other guys and these other teams around the country since they were nine, ten years old, so everyone knows everyone. They've competed against each other forever and there's a lot of rivalry. It's a lot of fun, but when the meets over, it's really kind of nice because the community of gymnastics is such that these are friendly rivalries. We support each other and these are good quality coaches and good quality teams."

Lions Face Buckeyes in Big Ten Opener

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10838977.jpegBy Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are eager to begin their second season as they open Big Ten competition for the first time in program history. As they look ahead to Ohio State, the Nittany Lions prepare to take on their long-time foe.

Discussion of Big Ten lacrosse started several years ago, when Maryland and Rutgers were in talks to join the conference. With the addition of honorary member Johns Hopkins, Penn State joins five other teams for the inaugural season of Big Ten lacrosse. Head coach Jeff Tambroni applauds the fellow programs in the conference for their decorated history within the sport of lacrosse.  

"With the addition of teams like Johns Hopkins, Rutgers and Maryland the competition is not only raised but the exposure of those particular programs and how tradition rich they are," said Tambroni.  "Those are the blue bloods of college lacrosse and the attachment of our association with them as well as Michigan and Ohio State just makes for very exciting opportunities."

The level of competition increases as Penn State continues their 2015 campaign, but the Lions are poised to take on every team, one game at a time.

Another welcomed change to the rest of the season, other than the level of difficulty, is the exposure Penn State will get from the Big Ten. With the rest of their games on television, Penn State will see national attention and be thrown into the spotlight every coming weekend.  

"You certainly get a lot more exposure because the Big Ten wants to promote one of their sports on television," said Tambroni.  "Through regular season games all the way to our conference tournament, the exposure is there."

Coach Tambroni believes the television component will be vital in marketing the Penn State lacrosse program to a wider audience. Making the game available to previously unreached audiences is vital for the program to build a larger fan base.

"I think [television exposure] is going to do a lot for the sport of lacrosse and I also believe it will do a lot for Penn State," said Tambroni.

Penn State will open Big Ten play against border rival Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have faced the Buckeyes every season under head coach Jeff Tambroni. Most recently, Penn State defeated Ohio State 11-8 in Columbus last March. This weekend's game will be vital in setting the tone for Penn State's identity as a Big Ten contender.

"I think no matter what the records are this is always an extremely hard-fought game," said Tambroni.  "I think both teams compete hard against one another. You know when you play Michigan and Ohio State, you know kind of the founders of the Big Ten lacrosse conference, and these guys go after each other pretty good."

Tambroni knows the new Big Ten conference boasts powerhouses in the sport of lacrosse, but believes with the beginning of the season to build off of, the Nittany Lions have what it takes to hang in a tough crowd.

"There's a lot on the line now," said Tambroni.  "It's not just Ohio State-Penn State it's the first game of the Big Ten and you want to get yourself off to a good start in the Big Ten conference and secure each and every win that you can because those things are going to be so valuable in the end."

Tambroni and company have been working on emphasizing the team aspect of the game. Working as one will be a key component to the Lions' matchup against Ohio State.

"I want to maximize the talents of this team, not necessarily each individual, but the talents of this team and I think if we can do that, regardless if it's the first time we've ever competed in the Big Ten or we've done it for years," said Tambroni. "We just want to make sure we can look back and do it without regret."

Tambroni emphasized that with this inaugural season as members of the Big Ten, wins aren't the only focus. Building a strong foundation for Penn State amongst the other member teams is just as important.

"Hopefully we develop the kind of relationships that are going to last a lifetime and that have nothing to do with the scoreboard," said Tambroni.

As the Big Ten games kick the season into full gear, Penn State is prepared to fight for every goal and every save, and demonstrate their strengths for the community.

"At the end of the day we would hope when someone walked away from one of our games they would say 'man that team plays hard, man that team really cares about each other' and it makes anybody who's associated with Penn State very proud to be associated with the same team that's on the field competing and playing for them," said Tambroni.

Penn State takes on Ohio State Sunday at 3 p.m. 

Guers' Double Sparks Nittany Lions Win Over Villanova

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9913558.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Even on a tough night at the plate, Greg Guers couldn't help but feel he was due for a hit.

It was the eighth inning of the Penn State baseball team's contest against Villanova, and the junior was 0-3 on the evening. Still, he found himself in a situation every batter dreams of; tie game, bases loaded, two outs.

"I was trying to get a pitch I could handle," Guers said. "We do a lot of mental game preparation, with confidence and staying with things. Even though I was 0-3, I thought, 'I'm in the biggest spot of the game right now I've got to contribute to the team.'"

After fouling off pitch after pitch, Guers finally saw a ball he liked on a 1-2 count and drove a shot to the right center gap for a double that cleared the bases and gave the Lions an eventual 5-2 win and their third victory in the past four games.

On a night in which Penn State's pitchers shined throughout, Guers gave the offense a much needed boost as the Lions threatened multiple times earlier in the game but stranded 10 runners on base.

In a way, it was fitting that Guers delivered the winning hit. Dating back to last season, the Langhorne, Pennsylvania native, has been counted on as a lynchpin in the lineup, hitting third or fourth last year and currently batting second.

While Cooper has always felt Guers is one of the most talented hitters the Nittany Lions have, he believes the designated hitter and outfielder has turned a corner since last season by improving his mental approach.

"Unbelievable, and what's really awesome about it is last year at this time he wouldn't have been able to do that," Cooper said. "He'll be the first one to tell you, he's really made a choice mentally to battle and fight and compete. I had just gotten done writing down, 'that's an unbelievable at-bat,' and he smokes a ball. Big time at-bat."

It was the second-straight game that Nittany Lions broke out offensively towards the end of the game, as they used a two huge innings in the seventh and eighth to beat Indiana 13-7 on Sunday. This time around, James Coates walked, Ryan Richter poked a single up the middle and Alex Malinsky blooped a fly ball that the right fielder couldn't catch to set up Guers at-bat.

According to Guers, the Lions were calm entering their half of the eight, yet still determined to get a run across after watching pitchers Geoff Boylston and Jack Anderson battle all night.

"We had a lot of situations to score guys today and we didn't do that but I think everyone has confidence in whoever comes to the plate in that situation," Guers said. "I was just lucky to be that guy. The dugout's fine and the dugout's pumped up for anyone in that situation.

"They've been pitching well the past week or two, so today it was great to get them a win again. We're confident in them and they're confident in us."

The Nittany Lions pitchers certainly have been on form since the team returned home last Wednesday against Canisius. Similar to that game, it was Boylston who held down the fort, even if things weren't as smooth this time.

A week after he struck out a career high eight batters in an 11-1 win over the Golden Griffins, the senior put down just three batters against the Wildcats. Regardless, he battled for 5 1/3 innings and gave up just two runs, one of them unearned.

From there, Anderson entered and looked dominant, giving up just one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings before freshman Sal Biasi picked up the save in the ninth.

"When you have those two guys, they're great pitchers," Boylston said of Anderson and Biasi. "Jack you see time and time again gets it done. I never had a doubt in my mind and Sal's a great arm too. There's never worry when those guys are in."

It may not have been the prettiest win, but it was a win regardless. The Lions are now 3-1 since retuning home, and Cooper said he is impressed with the fight his team has shown recently.

"We could have played better defense, could have pitched better could have hit better," Cooper said. "But to their credit, they made the choice and battled back into it and fought." 

Nittany Lions Ready to Race One Last Time in Iowa City

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10609906.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014-'15 season drawing to a close, six Nittany Lions have the opportunity to race one last time.  After a quick turn around from the Big Ten Championships, Penn State is headed back to Iowa City for the Men's NCAA Championships.

Coming off a seventh place finish at Big Tens, the Nittany Lions have spent the past three weeks preparing for this meet and making the appropriate changes to their training. The main focus for NCAAs will be strong morning swims in order to score in finals.

"We are focusing on getting a second swims in our races," said senior Nate Savoy.  "We know we have to swim really fast in the morning in order to do that."

The NCAA competition is the most selective meet in college swimming.  In order to participate, swimmers must reach or surpass a specific time standard. At the beginning of the season, time standards are released for each event, which are referred to as "A" and "B" cuts. In order to receive an automatic invite to the meet, a swimmer must achieve an "A" cut.  Once conference meets are finished, swimmers with "B" times are then invited based on their ranking in an event.  Typically the top 37-40 swimmers in each event receive a bid for NCAAs.

Two swimmers who qualified individually for Penn State are senior Nate Savoy, and junior Shane Ryan.  Both Savoy and Ryan have qualified for NCAAs in years past, and have led the Nittany Lions in points this season.

Savoy will be competing in the 100 and 200 backstroke, which he placed second in at the Big Ten Championships.  Savoy is also the current record holder for the Nittany Lions in the 200 backstroke.

Ryan qualified in the 50 and 100 freestyles, as well as the 100 backstroke.  At Big Tens Ryan took home a bronze in the 50 freestyle and a gold medal in the 100 backstroke.  He also had the eighth fastest time in the 100 freestyle.

The four other Nittany Lions to compete at NCAAs are: senior Kyle Madley, junior Matt Grillo and sophomores Bob Bantley and Andrew Schuehler.  The trio will participate in Penn State's relays alongside Savoy and Ryan.

Last year Penn State had its best finish in over a decade, finishing 17th place.  The Nittany Lions were within 10 points of their finish at the 2001 NCAA Championships, which was their strongest in history.

This year the Nittany Lions look to improve upon that finish, and are focusing on scoring big in relays.

"We have a good chance to score in our relays which will be huge points for the team," said Savoy.

Relays rack up the most points for teams.  A first place finish in a relay is worth almost double the points as a first place individual event.  Strong relay performances can make a huge difference on a team's total score as well where they finish in the meet.

Currently, the Nittany Lions are seeded in the top 20 for the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

Live results for the meet can be found online at throughout the duration of the meet.

VIDEO: Spring Practice Sights and Sounds

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Competition has been the name of the game for the Nittany Lions as they work through week two of spring practice. Head coach James Franklin noted during his pre-spring press conference that with it being year two for the team in the coaching staff's system, he expects a competitive atmosphere every time the team sets foot on the field. With three practices complete, including one in full pads, the Nittany Lions are living by the program's No. 1 core value - compete in everything you do.

"We're making an emphasis on our four core values, which you have heard over and over again," Franklin said. "Last year there was some memorizing the positive attitude, great work ethic, compete in everything you do, willing to sacrifice, but we weren't really living them. I want to make sure that we're living the core values, not just reciting them, [and] thinking what they mean to you and the program. That's been an emphasis for us."

During the next three weeks, we will take you inside practice with sights and sounds from spring ball. Today, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop gives the fans a taste of what it's like to work through a drill on the practice field with the Nittany Lions.

Penn State will practice in full pads on Wednesday afternoon and again on Saturday morning.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Clicking at Right Time

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By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After opening the season losing their first six matches, the scale has tipped in the Nittany Lions' favor.

No. 8 Penn State (10-9, 4-0 EIVA) enters this weekend's conference home slate against Princeton and NJIT riding a six-match winning streak. Simply put, the team is clicking at the right time.

"The season is nothing more than an evolution of improvement," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "If you can get everyone improving at a good're always going to be getting a little bit better."

Exceptional leadership and elevated play from the veteran players is an integral part of the Nittany Lions being able to turn the corner this season. Aaron Russell's torrid pace, along with Taylor Hammond's setting and Connor Curry's passing has jumpstarted play. Plus, Matt Seifert is not only back to full strength, he's also back to making an impact on the floor.

Taking a look at the stat sheets tells all for Pavlik's experienced student-athletes. Russell, who was named EIVA Offensive Player of the Week, is second in the nation with 4.72 kills per set. Hammond is tallying an average of 10.84 assists per set. Curry is leading with 2.49 digs per set.

"We're at a very good point now," Pavlik said. "Right now I think Connor is passing the best he's passed all of his career. The same could be said about Taylor's setting and decision-making. It feeds the team confidence and guys can't wait to get back out on the floor."

It's not just the seasoned players that are helping take the 2015 Nittany Lions to new heights. The underclassmen are making a name for themselves, as well.

One of those underclassmen is redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose. After tallying a career-high 19 kills versus Ohio State last Saturday, the outside hitter was tabbed Co-National Freshman of the Week.

"It's a really good feeling to know that I've been put in with the starters," Penrose said. "I've been practicing with the starters here and there. The coaches have felt comfortable with me there, and I think the guys around me have felt comfortable with me there. They've just been embracing me and vice versa. It's a really nice feeling to know that whatever unit we put out there, we give it our best and just go hard."

Despite the fact that Penrose is still adjusting to the speed of the collegiate game, Pavlik notes that the athletic redshirt freshman is starting to discover himself on the court.

"I think Jalen...has to learn how he can take his gifts and maximize them on the court," Pavlik said. "He's figuring it out...the learning curve very rarely is constantly positive...but he's also going to shine. 19 kills is nothing to sneeze at in a five-game match."

As the Blue and White stay hot, the focus is slightly beginning to turn to the postseason, a word that brings one thing to mind for the annually favored Nittany Lions.

"We'd prefer to be undefeated as much as possible. I'm sure any team wants that," Penrose said. "It's really important to win these conference matches too because it sets us up to have home advantage, one, and two, it puts us in a better position in the long run for when it comes time for playoffs."

Pavlik echoed the words of his young, dynamic player.

"I would love to have the conference championship here to where our guys can stay in their routine and play in their gym in front of their fans," Pavlik said.

In order to obtain homecourt advantage in the playoffs, Penn State must take care of EIVA foes this weekend at the South Gym at Rec Hall. Princeton on Friday at 7 p.m. NJIT on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Lions on the Diamond: Biasi Impressing Early On

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10891093.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a pitching staff loaded with young arms, it hasn't taken long for reliever Sal Biasi to stand out for the Penn State baseball team.

The freshman reliever has appeared seven times in the Nittany Lion's first 18 games, putting up a 2.51 ERA and registering 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings so far in his first season of college ball.

On Sunday against No. 21 Indiana, the right-hander gave the best performance of his young career, striking out six batters and giving up just one hit while throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings in a 5-4 extra inning loss to the Hoosiers.

While Penn State came up short, Biasi's ability to throw multiple innings (he entered in the eighth and finished off the 11th) helped the Lions save their bullpen for the second game of a double header, a thrilling 13-7 victory.

"Our first game Sunday, because of how well [the staff] pitched, we were able to keep our bullpen intact," head coach Rob Cooper said. "I think [Sal] understands the college game a little bit and understanding he doesn't have to change. We recruited him for a reason. Understanding that he doesn't have to change how he goes about things it's just continuing to get better at it. He's not afraid to go after guys and compete."

The Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Biasi said that the biggest adjustment he had make when coming to college was learning how to pitch. A star pitcher and batter at Hazleton High School in Barre, Pennsylvania, Biasi got by mostly on talent until he started working with Penn State pitching coach Brian Anderson.

So far, Anderson has stressed to Biasi the importance of placement, as well as knowing what situations work best for specific pitches.

"Learning more about pitching and location and throwing different pitches," Biasi said. "How to get guys off balance and what they're looking for in counts and how to attack them."

Although he's always been familiar with Penn State having grown up less than two hours away, Biasi said what enticed him the most about the Nittany Lions was being able to play for Cooper and having the chance to make an impact right away.

A natural competitor, the freshman relishes getting the ball in big spots, and he's glad he's on a team not afraid to put him on the mound in those situations.

"I love being a competitor and going out and facing the best guys," Biasi said. "I wanted to have an opportunity to pitch right away, so I came here and got after it as much as I could."

Coffey, Mosketti Excel in Nittany Lions' Comeback Victory

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Looking at the scoreboard after the first half, the Penn State women's lacrosse team knew it had another 30 minutes of play to make a difference. The No. 15 Lions trailed No. 9 Stanford, 9-6.

The game, however, was far from over. The Blue and White (7-3) came back out onto the field ready to fight and outscored the Cardinal (4-1) by six goals in the frame. The Nittany Lions took the match by a final score of 17-15.

"Stanford is really, really good," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I think they're probably the best team we've played this month. To come up with this, I think the girls really needed it, and it was a great way to kind of end this really hard stretch that we've had."

Between halves, Doherty stressed to the team that it needed to take better care of the ball. The game was well within reach. The clears just needed to be a little cleaner.

The results of the chat were undeniable. The team cleared all eight attempts following the first 30 minutes, a vast improvement that may have also been created by a change in goalie.

Junior Emi Smith replaced freshman McKenna Coyle in the cage for the final 17:59.

"We were just trying to find that spark there," Doherty said. "McKenna played well. Emi also played well, but it's just kind of looking to see if someone could give more. McKenna did a good job, and then we just put Emi in to see if she could give us a little more."

With a tighter defense in the second half, the Nittany Lion offense went to work.

Midfielder Tatum Coffey scored three goals and notched an assist. Jenna Mosketti and freshman Katie O'Donnell tallied another three goals each.

All three lead the way for Penn State, helping the team secure the comeback.

"They were great," said Doherty. "They came up big. Katie O'Donnell came up big there in the end with a couple big goals for us. But, they're competitors, Tatum and Jenna, always playing hard. Jenna gives her last limb to make a play, and you can see that on the field from the effort that she gives. And then right when we needed a little step up, Tatum provided that punch. It was really a good game overall for everybody, I think."

With everyone working together, the key to the team's success was simple, communication.

Over the course of the past week, the Nittany Lions have worked on talking to one another, motivating each other and preparing for plays that are bound to happen. It was important to start being a step ahead of the opponent.

"We went into this game, and our motto was 'Fired up feels good,'" said Coffey. "So, we just got everyone pumped up and we had so much energy today. It was unstoppable."

With 2:41 remaining in the game, Mosketti scored the tying goal. Merely 20 seconds later, the Blue and White secured the team's first lead of the game.

The final goal came with just 58 seconds left, and Penn State's fate was secured. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious.

"We've had some tough losses, so this was just a really huge win," said Mosketti. "We fought through the whole game. It was really exciting."

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The last three months brought out some of the very best of the Penn State track and field squad, proving that Nittany Lion fans have a unique opportunity that most people do not: the ability to see student-athletes grow and improve day after day reaching the limits of the potential and then surpassing them motivated by the pride of the dear old white and blue.

Here's a look back on what the Nittany Lions accomplished this season.

"The First Meet!"

Although the indoor season began with a friendly intrasquad match where student-athletes were able to dust off, the Penn State Relay was the first meet of the year to bring in other competing schools to the Ashenfelter Indoor Track.

The meet, which is expected to be full of 'first-meet jitters', was far from disappointing.

In his first meet, senior Darrell Hill broke the school record in the shot put with a 66-2.5 throw - a foreshadowing, maybe.

The quartet of Jordan Makins, Ryan Brennan, Brannon Kidder, and Robby Creese set the meet record in the 4x800-meter relay with a time of 7.22.10.

Megan Osborne, one-fourth of the 4x400-meter relay women, won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.69.

'We Are...Pitbulls'

The second home meet of the year, the Nittany Lion Challenge, was significantly more competitive than the first as it brought to Happy Valley top-level schools like the University of Miami and Georgetown.

Coach Randy Bungard described the Nittany Lions as pitbulls ready to attack the competition with no intentions other than winning and pushing their opponents to their absolute limits.

And that they did as Penn State pulled through winning ten events and setting two meet records.

The consistent Darrell Hill was dominant in the shot put once again with a meet record 64-5.25 throw and in the women's shot put, junior Rachel Fatherly took home the win with a meet record throw of 51-7.

The field athletes were motivated during this meet as Steve Waithe (52-1) and Brian Leap (51-9.75) both posted winning and personal best marks in the triple jump, respectively.

"My Favorite Meet of the Year"

The most anticipated, most thrilling meet of the year, the Penn State National, was up next for Penn State.

Junior Dannielle Gibson described this meet best: "All I can say is PRs, PRs, PRs!" she said.

Gibson won the triple jump event with a mark of 40-7.75 and Brian Leap took home the win for the men with a top-six NCAA and personal best leap of 52-3.75.

All the women shot putters posted personal best throws and were highlighted by the outstanding Rachel Fatherly who threw a personal best, top-three at Penn State and top-15 in the nation, 67-5.25.

To be the best, you must beat the best. So, Darrell Hill showed up once again bested his school record with a toss of 67-3.  

To keep the ball rolling, the athletes on the track didn't disappoint.

Brannon Kidder posted a top-three time in the nation of 1:47.86 in the 800-meter run and both the men and women of 4x400-meter relays took home first place with times of 3:15.83 and 3:40.43, respectively.

Senior Day

The nostalgia of graduation set in around the beginning of February at the Sykes and Sabock Challenge Cup where 17 student-athletes were recognized for their commitment to the Penn State program for the last four years.

However, senior Robby Creese didn't let the emotions get in the way of his performance as he ran an exhilarating 3:57.86 mile. The fourth best time in the country and the best ran time in the NCAA earned him the Big Ten's Men's Athlete of the week honors the following week.

The consistency of the 2014-2015 upperclassmen is so note-worthy. Head coach John Gondak describes it as "a sign of maturity".

It's Time for a Business Trip

Up next on the schedule for Penn State was their first away meet of the season where three groups of student-athletes traveled to three cities - Fayetteville, Arkansas; Seattle, Washington; and Geneva, Ohio.

In Seattle, Robby Creese ran a phenomenal 3,000-meters in 7:50.36, which broke the Penn State school record by almost four seconds.

Also, on the track, Brannon Kidder posted a sub-4 minute mile, a personal best time of 3:57.13, the No. 2 time in Penn State history.

In Arkansas, the personal records were flying everywhere.

Ahmenah Richardson moved up to fourth-best at Penn State in the high jump with a height of 5-9.75.

Megan Osborne has a personal best 200-meter time of 24.30 and the women of the 4x400-meter relay ran a season-best 3:34.90.

Rachel Fatherly, again, with a personal best indoor shot put throw of 52-2.75 and more from the field, Dannielle Gibson with a triple jump best of 41-1.50.

"What Time Is it?...It's Championship time!"

When you set the bar as high as Penn State does, it can be easy to overlook foundations and accomplishments that are on par with some of the best in the nation.

There were countless personal best performances at the championships proving that they are resilient and committed to improving leaving nothing but their all every time they step out to compete.

Darrell Hill's consistency is arguably one of the most motivating assets this team has. Several Nittany Lions mention his performance as a representation of the standards they set for themselves - believe in yourself and always work for better.

Rachel Fatherly's control and focus were so entertaining this year. She is aware of the things that help her succeed - an advantage not all athletes may have.

Brian Leap posted a personal best triple jump 52-6.75 during the Big Ten Championship. At a time where competition and stakes are as high as the conference championships, a personal best record is remarkable.

Tori Gerlach who has been quietly and diligently working all year, earned her shining moment on the podium with a first-place 5k finish joining the likes of Robby Creese and Brannon Kidder who took first and second respectively in the men's one-mile.

NCAA Championships

The officially close the season eleven student-athletes earned a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to compete in the National Championship.

On the men's side, the distance medley relay of Brannon Kidder, Alex Shisler, Za'Von Watkins and Robby Creese ran to a second-place finish with the No. 3 time in school history (9:32.21).

Also, Brannon Kidder (one-mile run; 4:04.48), Robby Creese (3,000-meter run; 8:06.53), Darrell Hill (shot put), and Brian Leap (triple jump) represented Penn State and finished collectively as the top Big Ten team at the championship.

Both Darrell Hill (64-8) and Brian Leap (51-4.50) made the trip to the indoor national championship for the first time in their career and recorded solid performances.

The Penn State women were represented by All-Americans 4x400-meter relay of Megan Osborne, Dynasty McGee, Tichina Rhodes and Kiah Seymour. The 4x4 finished eighth with a season-best time of 3:34.57.

Rachel Fatherly tallied a pair of top-16 finishes in her first trip to an NCAA Championship meet. Fatherly placed 11th in the shot put (52-10) and 16th in the weight throw (63-1.25).

Of the eleven competitors, nine earned first team All-America honors, an incredible accomplishment and well-earned honors.


These are the things that make Penn State track and field so incredibly entertaining to watch. They never give up. And the very best part of it all is that it's not over yet.

Onto the outdoor season!