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July 2010 Archives

Follow the Blog Live in Chicago from Big Ten Media Days

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The unofficial kickoff to the 2010 Big Ten football season has arrived.  The 39th Annual Big Ten Kickoff will take place on Monday and Tuesday in Chicago.  All 11 teams will be under one roof to begin the 2010 football season.

 

And the All-Sports Blog will be there to cover all of the action.  Legendary head coach Joe Paterno, senior running back Evan Royster, senior guard Stefen Wisniewski and junior cornerback D'Anton Lynn will represent Penn State in Chicago.

 

  5585429.jpegThe two-day event will be filled with interviews and press conferences with a wide variety of national media outlets.  The Big Ten Network and ESPNews will have extensive coverage on TV.  The BTN will have four hours of live TV coverage beginning at 11 a.m. ET, including press conferences from all 11 head coaches and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany.  The ESPNews coverage also begins at 11 a.m. on Monday with coaches and players appearing throughout the day.

 

On Monday and Tuesday, GoPSUsports.com will be home to all of the happenings in Chicago.  Stay tuned throughout Big Ten Media Days for numerous blog updates, videos and photos from Chicago.  We will take you inside our notebook as we cover the unofficial beginning of the 2010 college football season.

 

In addition to extensive Penn State coverage, some of the conference storylines we will be tracking in Chicago include: Big Ten divisions for the 2011 season, scheduling, potential championship game sites, preseason All-Big Ten selections, preseason standings predictions and much more.

 

Be sure to follow the All-Sports Blog on Twitter, as well, at twitter.com/GoPSUTony for live updates from Chicago and throughout the 2010 football season.  Listed below is a schedule with key events from the Big Ten Kickoff in Chicago.

 

Monday, August 2

- All 11 coaches and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will address the media in press conferences.

 

11:00 a.m. - Bret Bielema (Wisconsin)
11:15 a.m. - Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern)
11:30 a.m. - Ron Zook (Illinois)
11:45 a.m. - Rich Rodriguez (Michigan)
12:15 p.m. - Mark Dantonio (Michigan State)
12:30 p.m. - Bill Lynch (Indiana)
12:45 p.m. - Danny Hope (Purdue)
1:15 p.m. - Joe Paterno (Penn State)
1:30 p.m. - Tim Brewster (Minnesota)
1:45 p.m. - Kirk Ferentz (Iowa)
2:00 p.m. - Jim Tressel (Ohio State)
2:30 p.m. - Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany

 

Tuesday, August 3

- All 11 coaches and three players from each team will be open to reporters for interviewing from 9-11 a.m. ET.

- ESPN's Rece Davis will emcee the 39th Annual Big Ten Kickoff luncheon at 12:30 ET.

 

All of the events will take place at the McCormick Place Convention Center.  We look forward to taking you with us to Chicago for complete Penn State coverage from Big Ten Media Days.

Lion Track Stars Loxsom and Britton Shine in the Red, White and Blue

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Story written by Maggie Redden, All-Sports Blog Contributor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Last week, Casimir Loxsom and Evonne Britton traded their Penn State gear for Team USA apparel. The pair will soon be returning to Happy Valley in blue and white, but the duo wore the red, white and blue with style. They earned a silver and bronze medal, respectively, after a week of competition at the International Association of Athletics Federations Junior World Championships, held from July 19-25 in Moncton, Canada.

 

Regarded as the premiere athletic competition for individuals 19 and younger, the 2010 event was the biggest sports spectacular ever-held in Atlantic Canada. Athletes, coaches, and officials represented 170 IAAF Federations.

 

Fresh off capturing top honors in the 400-meter hurdles and silver-medal accolades in the 100-meter hurdles at the USTF Junior Championships, Britton made her final appearance at Moncton 2010 Stadium, one she'll never forget.

 

After posting a sixth-place finish in the100-meter hurdles, Britton cruised through the prelims and semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles, earning a spot in the final. Running from lane eight, Britton had her work cut out for her. She held her own and clocked a personal best of 57:32, just shy of the silver-medal time of 57:16.

 

5584786.jpegBritton is already re-writing the record books as a Nittany Lion.  She now stands third all-time in the 400-meter hurdles, trailing only recently departed seniors Fawn Dorr at 55:57 and Aleesha Barber at 57.00. With three years remaining as a Nittany Lion, Britton is poised to eclipse those times.

 

Loxsom closed out the IAAF World Junior Championships in style, capturing silver-medal honors in the 800-meters in a time of 1:46.57. It was a fight to the finish as Kenyan David Mutinda Mutua inched out Loxsom for the gold in 1:46.41.

 

Loxsom was in good company as U.S. teammate and bronze medalist, Robby Andrews, joined him on the medal stand. Loxsom and Andrews broke new ground, becoming the first U.S. athletes to ever capture medals in the men's 800 at the World Junior event.

 

After just one season as a Nittany Lion, Loxsom is one spot shy of owning the Penn State record. His effort in Canada stands as the second fastest ever run by a Penn State athlete. The Penn State record of 1:45.96 set by Randy Moore back in 1985 is in jeopardy as Loxsom is running it down.

 

With two outstanding performances on the world stage, the future is bright for the Nittany Lions.  The All-Sports Blog congratulates Loxsom and Britton on their medals and we look forward to watching their future endeavors in blue, white...and red.

Offseason Q&A with Stephon Morris

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football is in the air around Happy Valley.  The Nittany Lions will return to the practice fields one week from today (Aug. 5).  Like any Penn State fan, the All-Sports Blog is eager to kick off the college football season.

 

As a primer to the beginning of football season, we have caught up with a few players to see how the offseason has been going.  Yesterday, we featured Evan Royster.  Today, we are moving to a sophomore cornerback looking to build on an impressive rookie campaign.  Stephon Morris heads into camp with a lot of confidence after a strong finish to the 2009 season.

 

Here is our conversation with Morris.


 

 

Stay tuned to the blog and GoPSUTV for more video updates from players as we lead up to our extensive coverage from Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.  Also stay tuned to GoPSUsports.com next week for updates from Chicago.

Penn State Welcomes New Women's Lacrosse Coach Missy Doherty

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Story written by Maggie Redden, All-Sports Blog Contributor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At Penn State, everyone is part of the family and as we have done over the past couple of weeks, we're taking a few minutes to get to know our newest members. Next up is Missy Doherty, who was hired as the next head coach for Penn State women's lacrosse.

 

After a decade leading the Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team, Suzanne Isidor has passed the torch to Doherty.  Isidor leaves the women's lacrosse program with 84 victories, two NCAA Tournament bids, and four years of playing for the Nittany Lions as a student-athlete. Doherty's tenure as head of the women's lacrosse program has already commenced, and she is ready to lead the Lions into the future.

 

While the future is yet to be written, let's delve into Doherty's past to discover the road she took that led her to Happy Valley. 

 

5537670.jpegDoherty's knowledge and expertise is rooted in being a four-year letterwinner on the University of Maryland's lacrosse team. A 1997 graduate, Doherty helped the Terrapins claim three NCAA crowns during her career. Doherty proved that she not only had game, but excelled in the classroom as well, being named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll three times.

 

Prior to landing at Penn State, Doherty had a seven-year stint as the head coach at Towson University. Doherty developed the Tigers into one of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association. She posted a 79-46 record, including five seasons with 13 or more victories, which led to three CAA Tournament championships (2005, 2008-'09). Doherty coached six All-Americans including Towson's first three-time honoree.

 

Doherty's 2010 squad rewrote the record books at Towson, earning the program's first at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers also received their first-ever top 10 national ranking in the IWLCA Division I poll.

 

Doherty's coaching career began at Vanderbilt in 1998.  From there she served as an assistant coach at Brown University from 1999-'00. 

 

Before arriving at Towson, Doherty had a successful six-year run being an assistant coach at Princeton.  She was integral in leading the Tigers to NCAA championships in 2002 and 2003. Princeton compiled a 49-9 record and captured three straight Ivy League crowns during Doherty's tenure.

 

Upon naming Doherty the head coach at Penn State, Director of Athletics, Tim Curley, had this to say about the women's lacrosse team's newest leader, "Missy is a rising star in collegiate women's lacrosse and Penn State is fortunate to be able to bring her to Happy Valley to lead our program. Missy has experienced success and is a proven winner as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. Her leadership and vision will positively impact our players. I am pleased and proud to welcome Missy to the Penn State family."

 

The All-Sports Blog wishes Coach Doherty the best of luck at the helm of the Nittany Lions.

Catching up with Evan Royster

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football is in the air around Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will return to the practice fields one week from Thursday (Aug. 5). Like any Penn State fan, the All-Sports Blog cannot wait to get back into college football season.

As a primer to the beginning of football season, we have caught up with a few players to see how the offseason has been going. First up is a senior tailback chasing history this fall. Evan Royster heads into 2010 needing just 481 yards to become Penn State's all-time leading rusher. Royster is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He is eager to get practice started next week.

Here is our conversation with Royster.





Stay tuned to the blog and GoPSUTV for more video updates from players as we lead up to our extensive coverage from Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. Also stay tuned to GoPSUsports.com next week for updates from Chicago.

Counting Down the Top Five Games of 2009-'10: No. 1

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - We began the top five countdown of the best games from 2009-'10 with a national championship competition.  And we are going to finish the countdown with another national title bout. 

 

Staring at the brink of history, the top-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team headed to Tampa for its third consecutive trip to the national semifinals.

 

The Lions weathered Hawai'i en route to a clash that was being billed as a dream matchup for the volleyball world.  No. 1 Penn State was slated to meet No. 2 Texas in match for all the marbles at St. Pete Times Forum.  Let's head to Tampa.  The countdown has reached No. 1.

 

December 19, 2009 - NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship - Tampa, Fla.

5579175.jpegA match that was built as a dream matchup did not disappoint inside St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday night.  Penn State (38-0) and Texas (29-2) occupied the top two spots in women's volleyball throughout 2009.  It was only fitting that the best two teams in the sport would decide the national championship in a dramatic fifth set.

 

After falling into a two-set deficit for the first time during the infamous 102-match winning streak, National Player of the Year Megan Hodge willed the Nittany Lions back into contention.  With their backs to the wall, the Lions mustered back-to-back set victories to send the national title bout into a fifth set.

 

Texas built a 7-5 advantage in the 15-point decisive set, but Hodge drilled a kill and combined with Fatima Balza on a block to knot the score at 7-7.  A Lion service error tied the score for the 10th time in the fifth set at 12-12.  Darcy Dorton stepped up with a huge kill.  A Texas attack attempt then sailed long, giving Penn State a pair of match points (14-12).

 

After a Texas timeout, the Longhorns drew within one, but Hodge blasted a ball off the hands of the Texas libero to clinch an improbable comeback, record third straight national championship, second straight perfect season and two fist pumps and smile from legendary head coach Russ Rose.

 

Texas outside hitter Destinee Hooker was astonishing for the Longhorns.  Finishing with 34 kills, Hooker illustrated why she is one of the best volleyball talents in America.  But the No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball team etched its place in history with an epic 3-2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13) victory over No. 2 Texas to become the first team ever to win three straight national championships.

 

The level of play in the latter stages of the fourth and fifth sets was as good as anyone will see in college athletics.  Both teams left every ounce of their bodies on the floor.  The image of Alyssa D'Errico diving to the floor point after point is something Penn State fans will never forget.  This match has been re-aired numerous times since December, and it is almost impossible to turn it off.

 

It is hard to put all of the program's accomplishments into perspective.  The 102-match winning streak was in doubt against Texas, but Penn State's collection of talent was not going to lose.  It is easy to write that, but if you watched the match, you know what we mean.  Penn State faced a 2-0 deficit for the first time in the winning streak, but never showed any signs of nerves.  Seeing the demeanor of the Lions when faced with adversity speaks volumes about Coach Rose.

 

The streak lives on.  Penn State will head into 2010 with a 102-match winning streak, but more importantly, the Lions will be the three-time defending champions.  An incredible night in Tampa ended with an epic Penn State comeback for the program's fourth title.

 

We have reached the end of our summer countdown of the top five games from 2009-'10.  As always, it is fun to look back on a terrific sports season.  Let's hope 2010-'11 provides Nittany Lion fans with more great memories.

 

5579174.jpegAll-Sports Blog Top Five Games from 2009-'10

5.  NCAA Fencing Championships final day turnaround for a national title

4.  Women's volleyball - No. 1 Penn State 3, No. 11 Michigan 2

3.  Big Ten Women's Indoor Track Championships home victory

2.  Capital One Bowl - No. 13 Penn State 19, No. 12 LSU 17

1.  NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship - No. 1 Penn State 3, No. 2 Texas 2

Counting Down the Top Five Games of 2009-'10: No. 2

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The All-Sports Blog's summer series rolls on with a look at the top games from the 2009-'10 sports season.  We saw a last-second field goal at the Capital One Bowl, an epic national championship match in women's volleyball and many more standout games during the past year of Penn State sports.

Sports fans can vividly recall memorable nights in a stadium or watching a specific game on TV.  That is one of the best things about being a sports fan - the thrill of the unknown.  No one knows when a player or team is going to turn a standard ballgame into a special night.

 

We continue our countdown of the top five games with a trip to Florida for Penn State's New Year's Day clash against college football power LSU.  This story began a few hours before kickoff when the playing surface was under water after torrential rains hit the area. 

 

Unseasonably cool temperatures leading up to the game did not allow the new sod at the Citrus Bowl Stadium to firm up.  When you combine heavy rain with a loose field, it is bound to make things interesting for a bowl game.  Welcome to No. 2 on the list.

 

January 1, 2010 - Capital One Bowl - Orlando, Fla.

psu.fb.defense.jpgIn conditions that were better suited for the parading ducks inside the Peabody Hotel, home of the Nittany Lions in Orlando, Daryll Clark engineered a 65-yard scoring drive to set up the game-winning field goal attempt from Collin Wagner.  Trailing 17-16 in the fourth quarter, Clark had one phrase for his football team before taking the field for the final time in his Penn State career.

 

"We are not losing this football game no matter what," Clark said.

 

And he was right.

 

The second half of Joe Paterno's 24th all-time bowl victory was a microcosm of the 2009 Penn State football season.  Nothing came easy for this group of Nittany Lions.  After a 10-2 finish to the regular season, the Lions spent the Capital One Bowl prep answering questions about not having a marquee win on their resume.

 

Move ahead to the third quarter when the Nittany Lions took a commanding 16-3 lead after Wagner booted his third of four field goals on the sloppy sod inside the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.  By all intents and purposes, the Lions looked to be in firm control of Friday's ballgame after taking the 13-point lead.

 

However, in a span of 2:24, Penn State went from up 16-3 to down 17-16.  Two touchdowns from LSU set up a fourth quarter drive from Clark and a storybook ending for Wagner.

 

The Youngstown native methodically marched the Nittany Lions 65 yards in 5:57 seconds.  The 12-play drive featured four carries and three completions from Clark.  A pair of connections with Graham Zug put the Lions in striking distance before a quarterback draw from Clark put the Lions within two yards of the end zone.  Everyone on the Penn State sidelines wanted to see Clark slither into the end zone, but the senior turned the game-winning drive over to the sophomore kicker from State College.

 

Wagner then booted a 21-yard field goal with 57 seconds on the clock to lift No. 13 Penn State to a dramatic 19-17 victory over No. 12 LSU on a soggy afternoon in Orlando

 

 

The Capital One Bowl was a fitting end to the season for a superb senior class.  The defense led by Josh Hull, Sean Lee and Jared Odrick was masterful.  Clark deserved a game-winning drive to end his career.  Although the field conditions weren't conducive to a big offensive day, the Capital One Bowl was a very good football game.  And beating a solid SEC team surely helps this game's case as one of the season's best.

 

Our countdown continued today with a dramatic finish to the 11-2 football season at the Capital One Bowl.  Stay tuned tomorrow when we reveal the No. 1 game on the All-Sports Blog's list of best games from the 2009-'10 sports season.

 

All-Sports Blog Top Five Games from 2009-'10

5.  NCAA Fencing Championships final day turnaround for a national title

4.  Women's volleyball - No. 1 Penn State 3, No. 11 Michigan 2

3.  Big Ten Women's Indoor Track Championships home victory

2.  Capital One Bowl - No. 13 Penn State 19, No. 12 LSU 17

Counting Down the Top Five Games of 2009-'10: No. 3

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The All-Sports Blog's summer series rolls on with a look at the top games from the 2009-'10 sports season.  We saw a last-second field goal at the Capital One Bowl, an epic national championship match in women's volleyball and many more standout games during the past year of Penn State sports.

 

Sports fans can vividly recall memorable nights in a stadium or watching a specific game on TV.  That is one of the best things about being a sports fan - the thrill of the unknown.  No one knows when a player or team is going to turn a standard ballgame into a special night.

 

We continue our countdown of the top five games with a dominant performance from the Nittany Lion women's track team.  The All-Sports Blog's countdown returns to Happy Valley for the final day of competition at the Multisport Building on the University Park campus.  With a Big Ten title on the line, the Lions did their best to excite the home crowd.  Welcome to No. 3 on the list.

 

February 28, 2010 - Big Ten Women's Indoor Track Championships - University Park, Pa.

5572315.jpegThe Nittany Lion women's track team took full advantage of hosting the 2010 Big Ten Indoor Track Championships.

 

Fueled by two individual gold medals from Shavon Greaves, a distance win from Bridget Franek and triumph in the 4x400-meter relay, Penn State captured its second-ever Big Ten title at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

 

Trailing in the team standings throughout the weekend, Greaves blazed the track with a commanding victory in the 200 meters to hoist the Lions on top.  Her time of 22.98 shattered the facility and meet records to win 25 points for the Lions.  She also won gold in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.30.

 

On the heels of a second place finish in the 3,000-meter run on day one of the event, Franek topped the podium in the 1-mile run with a time of 4:37.95.  Just over an hour after winning the mile, Franek took second in the 5,000 meters to solidify the victory.

 

The Lions put icing on the cake with a victory in the final event of the meet.  Greaves was joined by freshman Doris Anyanwu, Caitlin Defusco and Fawn Dorr in a gold medal performance in the 4x400-meter relay.  The Lion quartet won the event with a Big Ten Championship record 3:35.38.  As a team, the Lions easily cleared the field with 111 overall points.  Ohio State finished a distant second with 88.

 

 

The Penn State women's track program has set the standard among Big Ten teams in recent seasons, but it is special to win a conference title at home.  Hosting a championship event is rare, thus making a strong showing that much more important to the program.

 

Penn State did not disappoint in its efforts at the Big Ten Indoor Track Championship.  A 23-point victory in a conference track championship is truly a dominant performance.  With the conference's best track athletes in town, the Nittany Lions delivered.  The women's track victory at home was a significant day on Penn State's calendar year.

 

Our countdown continued today with a dominant performance on the final day of the Big Ten Women's Indoor Track Championships.  Stay tuned on Monday when we move to No. 2 on the All-Sports Blog's list of best games from the 2009-'10 sports season.

 

All-Sports Blog Top Five Games from 2009-'10

5.  NCAA Fencing Championships final day turnaround for a national title

4.  Women's volleyball - No. 1 Penn State 3, No. 11 Michigan, 2

3.  Big Ten Women's Indoor Track Championships home victory

Single Game Football Tickets On Sale Monday

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The grass parking lot spaces are being painted.  The Beaver Stadium grass is beginning to green up.  The media guides have arrived. The Big Ten Kickoff is 10 days away.  The first day of practice is 13 days away.

 

Those are all signs that the 2010 football season is just around the corner.  You can add the first day of single game ticket sales to that list, as well.  Tickets to all seven home games will go on sale beginning Monday at 10 a.m., exclusively on GoPSUsports.com.

 

Tickets to all seven games will be available, but fans interested in tickets to the Homecoming Clash against Illinois and the primetime showdown with Michigan will be limited to purchase two tickets.  Because of the limited quantity of single game seats for Illinois and Michigan, tickets to those games are expected to sell very quickly on Monday.

 

3297198.jpegAs Penn State Athletics prepares for the changes coming to Beaver Stadium in 2011 with STEP (Seat Transfer and Equity Program), a limited number of single game seats are available for every home game on the schedule in 2010.

 

Penn State's loyal season ticket holders tallied a 94 percent renewal rate during the offseason for season tickets in 2010.  The remaining season tickets that were not renewed are being sold as single game tickets for the fall.  Rather than re-sell the tickets that were not renewed as season tickets, the tickets will be sold on an individual game basis.

 

Had the tickets been re-sold as new season tickets, fans would have been asked for intentions for 2010 and 2011 when STEP is implemented, having not yet sat in the seat location.  Therefore, as the department prepares for 2011, the remaining tickets for 2010 will be sold on a single game basis.

 

Nearly 93,000 public and student seats have been sold for the 2010 football season.  Needless to say, there will be a limited number of tickets available in the first-come, first-served basis when Monday's sale begins.

 

Mark your calendar for Monday's single game tickets sale.  Head to GoPSUsports.com at 10 a.m. for the exclusive sale. 

 

2010 Home Schedule

Sept. 4 - Youngstown State - Noon

Sept. 18 - Kent State - Noon

Sept. 25 - Temple - TBA

Oct. 9 - Illinois - Noon

Oct. 30 - Michigan - 8 p.m.

Nov. 6 - Northwestern - TBA

Nov. 27 - Michigan State - TBA

Counting Down the Top Five Games of 2009-'10: No. 4

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The All-Sports Blog's summer series rolls on with a look at the top games from the 2009-'10 sports season.  We saw a last-second field goal at the Capital One Bowl, an epic national championship match in women's volleyball and many more standout games during the past year of Penn State sports.

 

Sports fans can vividly recall memorable nights in a stadium or watching a specific game on TV.  That is one of the best things about being a sports fan - the thrill of the unknown.  No one knows when a player or team is going to turn a standard ballgame into a special night.

 

We continue our countdown of the top five games from last season with a dramatic victory to save a winning streak for the top-ranked women's volleyball team in the nation.  The All-Sports Blog's countdown heads to Ann Arbor for a pivotal showdown against 11th-ranked Michigan.  With a streak on the line, the Lions were pushed to five sets in a hostile environment.  Welcome to No. 4 on the list.

 

October 16, 2009 - No. 1 Penn State at No. 11 Michigan - Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Hodge_Megan_A-09-MU-MS0002.jpgIn front of a sold out crowd inside Michigan's Cliff Keen Arena, the No. 1 Nittany Lion women's volleyball team weathered its biggest test of the 2009 regular season with a thrilling 3-2 (24-26, 25-8, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12) victory over the 11th-ranked Wolverines.

 

After falling behind 2-1, the Nittany Lions battled to back-to-back set victories to score a pivotal road win, keeping the 83-match winning streak alive.  With the Lions' backs to the wall, Megan Hodge delivered a 25-kill evening.  She also tallied 11 digs.  Arielle Wilson added 17 kills in the victory.

 

Penn State jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the fifth set behind a pair of Michigan errors and two kills from Hodge.  The senior put the Lions in position to close out the match with a kill to set the scoreboard at 14-12.  Hodge then added another kill to clinch the match victory. 

 

The match in Ann Arbor had been circled by the coaching staff for weeks.  And the Lions put together a clutch performance when it counted to extend the winning streak.

 

 

With their backs to the wall, the Lions always seemed to find another gear.  Five set matches have been few and far between for the three-time defending national champions.  However, the collection of talent on last season's team had fiber that made it nearly unbeatable in clutch situations.

 

The significance of this victory cannot be underscored.  Had Penn State fallen short in Ann Arbor, its postseason success would not likely have been impacted.  However, it makes you wonder what we would be talking about if the streak would have been snapped in October.

 

Russ Rose has a knack for getting the most out of his teams in big matches.  The Nittany Lions delivered when it counted with an 82-match winning streak on the line.  The 15-12 victory in the fifth set stamped this match's place among the top five games from the 2009-'10 season.

 

Our countdown continued today with a five-set road victory for the women's volleyball team.  Stay tuned tomorrow when we move to No. 3 on the All-Sports Blog's list of best games from the 2009-'10 sports season.

 

All-Sports Blog Top Five Games from 2009-'10

5.  NCAA Fencing Championships final day turnaround for a national title

4.  Women's volleyball - No. 1 Penn State 3, No. 11 Michigan, 2

Counting Down the Top Five Games of 2009-'10: No. 5

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The All-Sports Blog's summer series rolls on with a look at the top games from the 2009-'10 sports season.  We saw a last-second field goal at the Capital One Bowl, an epic national championship match in women's volleyball and many more standout games during the past year of Penn State sports.

 

Sports fans can vividly recall memorable nights in a stadium or watching a specific game on TV.  That is one of the best things about being a sports fan - the thrill of the unknown.  No one knows when a player or team is going to turn a standard ballgame into a special night.

 

We begin our countdown of the top five games from last season with a unique angle.  Although it would not technically classify as a game, the All-Sports Blog will open the countdown with the final day of the NCAA Fencing Championships as No. 5 on the list.

 

 March 28, 2010 - NCAA Fencing Championships - Cambridge, Mass.

5561809.jpegAfter trailing St. John's for two days, the Nittany Lion fencing team performed like defending champions on the final day of the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships to claim the program's 12th national title.

 

The Lions headed into the final day of competition in Cambridge, Mass., trailing St. John's by two overall victories, but a Lion rally lifted Penn State to a national championship-clinching 191 victories.  St. John's finished second with 182 victories.  It was a remarkable accomplishment for coach Emmanuil Kaidanov and the fencing program to post the program's 12th title in 28 years with Kaidanov at the helm.  Kaidanov has led the Lions to a title in three of the last four seasons, and five in the last 11 years. 

 

The Lions also crowned an individual national champion in women's epee.  Freshman Margherita Guzzi Vincenti scored a 15-10 victory in the championship bout to become the 27th individual national champion for Coach Kaidanov.  It was a strong weekend capped by a stellar final day for the Nittany Lions with a team national title and one individual national champion.

 

 

The Penn State fencers did not look like they were going to be in position to score a 12th national championship after the first two days of competition.  St John's was clearly the team to beat heading into the final day.  However, a dramatic turnaround on the final day fueled the Lions to a national title. 

 

 The Lions finished nine victories ahead of the runner-up Red Storm and 11 victories ahead of Notre Dame.  With the chips on the table, the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion to win the sport's ultimate prize.  Like we said to begin this post, a fencing competition is an unorthodox event for a countdown of the top five games from a season, but this performance deserves a place on the countdown.

 

The significance of a national championship cannot be overlooked because winning a title is such a rare feat in college sports.  Penn State's performance on the final day at the NCAA Fencing Championships was extraordinary.

 

Our countdown kicks off with a fencing national championship.  Stay tuned tomorrow when we moved to No. 4 on the All-Sports Blog's list of best games from the 2009-'10 sports season.

Nittany Lion Community Welcomes New Women's Gymnastics Coaching Family

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Story by Maggie Redden, All-Sports Blog contributor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Jeff and Rachelle Thompson are the new first family of Penn State women's gymnastics.  The duo will serve as head and associate coach, respectively. 

 

After a career in gymnastics spanning 30 years, 18 of which spent at the helm of the Nittany Lions, three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Steve Shephard stepped down, leaving quite a legacy in Happy Valley.

 

And so begins a new chapter for women's gymnastics at Penn State.  After spending 11 years serving as Auburn's head women's gymnastics coach, Jeff Thompson is taking over the reins for the Nittany Lions. The former Tigers coach boasts an impressive resume with numerous noteworthy achievements and credentials.   While we'd like to go on and on, we'll take few moments to mention a few.

 

The education major earned his degree in1985 from Kentucky and received a Master's degree in Biomechanics in 1995. Thompson served as the Junior Olympic Program Director at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy from 1993-'94. He is no stranger to the Big Ten having held two assistant coaching positions at Illinois and Wisconsin.  Prior to being named the head coach at Auburn, he was an assistant coach at LSU from 1994-'99. 

 

5558307.jpegDuring his stint at Auburn, Thompson was named a two-time SEC Coach of the Year and NCAA Regional Coach of the Year.  Under his guidance and knowledge the Tigers qualified for the NCAA Regionals eight consecutive years. 2010 was a breakout season for Thompson as his team notched wins against ranked opponents Arkansas, Kentucky, and five-time defending National Champion Georgia.

 

Thompson's wife, Rachelle, also joined the Auburn staff in 1999 as a choreographer and volunteer coach before being promoted to assistant coach in 2002 and associate coach in 2006.  She was named a two-time Auburn University assistant coach of the year and was selected the 2008 NACGC/W Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year. She will also join the Nittany Lion family as the associate head coach.

 

Rachelle also has a prior connection with the Big Ten, serving as choreographer and volunteer coach at Illinois from 1992-'93 before serving six years in the same position at LSU.  A graduate of LSU, Rachelle was a three-time NCAA All-American gymnast and finalist for the Honda-Broderick Cup. 

 

Through their combined efforts at Auburn, the coaching duo has produced four NCAA All-Americans, three SEC Gymnast of the Year winners, and nine NCAA individual qualifiers.

 

In keeping with Nittany Lion's academic integrity, the Thompsons have coached NACGC/W Academic All-Americans, 53 SEC Honor Roll selections, and three SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year winners. The future is bright for the Nittany Lions both in the sport and in the classroom. 

 

On a recent visit to Nittany Lion country, coach Jeff Thompson said, "Rachelle and I have never been more excited in our lives. During our visit this week, we were overwhelmed by the history, tradition and overall integrity of the Penn State athletic department. The amount of support that the athletic programs receive at Penn State is second to none."

 

The Nittany Lion faithful welcome Jeff, Rachelle and their two sons to the family.  We eagerly wait to see what they have in store for the Penn State women's gymnastics program and how they will help write the future history of Penn State athletics.

Counting Down the Top Five Games of 2009-'10

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The All-Sports Blog's summer series rolls on with a look at the top games from the 2009-'10 sports season.  We saw a last-second field goal at the Capital One Bowl, an epic national championship match in women's volleyball and many more standout games during the past year of Penn State sports.

 

Sports fans can vividly recall memorable nights in a stadium or watching a specific game on TV.  That is one of the best things about being a sports fan - the thrill of the unknown.  No one knows when a player or team is going to turn a standard ballgame into a special night.

 

Think back over the years of games that will live in Penn State sports lore forever.  Most sports fans can recall exactly where they were sitting and what they were doing when a memorable game took place. 

 

In recent Penn State sports history, the most vivid moments probably came during the resurgent 2005 football season.  Isaac Smolko's fourth-down catch from Michael Robinson at Northwestern preserved 'the drive', and arguably the season.

 

2432713.jpegA couple weeks later, the Ohio State Buckeyes came into Happy Valley for an epic heavyweight fight between the best two teams in the conference.  Calvin Lowry's interception of Troy Smith and Tamba Hali's game-clinching sack made that game on a misty October night more than just another contest.

 

The special season ended with a triple-overtime victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl.  Any Penn State fan can recall sitting up after the clock struck midnight to witness Kevin Kelly boot a game-winner to cap an 11-1 season.

 

Since 2005, the list goes on.  And it does not just include contests on the gridiron.  Think back to the men's hoops run to an NIT title with a win at Michigan State, buzzer beaters against Illinois and George Mason, a dominant performance at Florida and the 30-plus bus loads of fans at Madison Square Garden.

 

The Lady Lions' upset of Duke in the Bryce Jordan Center in 2007 was a memorable night.  The women's volleyball team has also put together a laundry list of special matches in its national title runs over the last three seasons, including a five-setter against Stanford to win the first of three straight national titles and the five-set win over Nebraska in Omaha.

 

The 2008-'09 season was special.  From the Talor Battle buzzer-beater to defeat Illinois to Mark Rubin's infamous forced fumble at Ohio State, the '08-'09 sports season was a memorable one.  That being said, the'09-'10 campaign had a tough act to follow.

 

Narrowing down the list to five great games from last season was a difficult task.  There were numerous contests worthy of being on the top five list.  Nonetheless, the All-Sports Blog has trimmed the list down to five. 

 

Beginning tomorrow, we will countdown the top five games from the past sports season.  Our list will include only Penn State victories.  Stay tuned to the blog tomorrow for the season's best games.

Getting to Know the New Face of the Men's Lacrosse Program

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After 33 seasons of direction under Glenn Thiel, the Nittany Lion men's lacrosse program will have a new leader in the spring when Jeff Tambroni begins his first season as head coach of the Nittany Lions.

 

Thiel retired in May after a career spanning more than four decades in men's lacrosse.  Last month, Tambroni was named head coach of the Penn State program following 10 seasons as head coach at Cornell.  Tambroni brings a wealth of experience following a superb tenure at Cornell.  Like we did with new men's soccer head coach, Bob Warming, we decided to take a closer look at Tambroni.

 

You can read through the official press release on GoPSUsports.com to learn everything you need to know about Tambroni, but the All-Sports Blog decided to pick out some of the notable items from Tambroni's impressive coaching resume.

 

5415399.jpegWithout further ado, let's meet the new head coach of the Nittany Lion lacrosse team.  A 1992 graduate of Hobart College, Tambroni was a stellar athlete on the field prior to his coaching career.  He was s three-time All-American at Hobart.   Tambroni then worked as an assistant coach for his alma mater and Loyola before moving to Cornell in 1997.

 

Following three seasons as an assistant, Tambroni took over the head coaching position at Cornell in June of 2000.  From there, Tambroni took the position and ran with it.  He was instrumental in guiding Cornell into national prominence on the lacrosse field.

 

The Big Red went 7-6 in his first season at the helm.  After that, Tambroni's teams won at least nine games every season.  Cornell won its eighth consecutive IVY League championship in 2009.  Tambroni also led the Big Red to the NCAA Tournament in eight of his final nine seasons.

 

Tambroni garnered FieldTurf/NCAA Coach of the Year honors in 2007 and '09 after leading the Big Red to the national title game and semifinals, respectively.  He currently ranks fifth among active coaches in winning percentage (109-40 for .732).

 

In addition to the team's accolades, Tambroni helped guide his players to 39 All-America honors.  The results speak for themselves.  Cornell has not been out of the top 10 in more than four years.  Tambroni also led Cornell to the highest winning percentage among Division I schools over the last six years.

 

An overtime loss to Syracuse is all that stood between Tambroni and a national championship in 2009.  It will be very exciting to watch Coach Tambroni's first group of Nittany Lions when the lacrosse season kicks off next spring.

 

"My family and I are both grateful and excited for the opportunity offered by Tim Curley to represent the Penn State men's lacrosse program," Tambroni said. "Penn State athletics are synonymous with success and we are hopeful that the lacrosse program will follow a similar path."

 

We wish Coach Tambroni the best of luck as he gets acclimated in Happy Valley.  His records speak volumes about what type of coach he is, on and off, the field of play.

Curt Warner Enshrined in the Hall; Royster Chasing His All-Time Mark

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of Joe Paterno's all-time greats will join the likes of 17 other Penn State student-athletes when he is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

 

Hailing from the small town of Pineville, W. Va., Curt Warner will soon find his name alongside college football's greatest players inside the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.  Warner's legacy in Happy Valley includes three major bowl victories and a national championship.

 

He helped lead the Lions to a 31-5 record over his final three seasons, including two Fiesta Bowl wins over Ohio State and USC and a 27-23 triumph over Herschel Walker's Georgia Bulldogs in the 1983 Sugar Bowl for the National Championship.

 

1846358.jpegThe West Virginia native ended his storied Nittany Lion career with 42 school records.  All of Warner's individual marks were noteworthy, but one stands above the rest.  He remains the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,398 yards.

 

To most college football fans, rushing records sit at the top of the pecking order for individual accolades.  His place atop the Penn State record books has stood for more than 25 years.  Warner's accomplishments in Penn State Blue and White are more than deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame.

 

He was a rare talent in Penn State football's storied history.  Coach Paterno's quote in the press release from Warner's Hall of Fame announcement speaks volumes about what type of player he was and the person Warner is.

 

"Curt Warner was an outstanding running back," said Coach Paterno. "In all my years at Penn State, we have had a lot of exceptional backs, and he is one of the very best of that distinguished group. Curt was a leader for the great teams we had in the early 1980's and played a big part in helping us win our first national championship. Curt was a very good student, has been very loyal to Penn State and has made a positive impact on his community in Washington."

 

5127941.jpegThose are strong words from a man who has seen more than six decades of football from the sidelines in Happy Valley.  Warner was back in town last month to help coach at one of Penn State football's summer camps.  He is still involved in the program and is always willing to give back to the place he loves.  The two-time first team All-American belongs in the Hall of Fame.

 

 Warner will go into the Hall of Fame as Penn State's leading rusher, but senior tailback Evan Royster will likely have a say in how long that lasts.  Royster heads into the 2010 season needing just 481 yards to break Warner's all-time mark.

 

"I've met Curt a few times, but we have never really talked about rushing records," Royster said.  "I have seen a few games of his on tape.  The game has changed quite a bit from when he played.  I am just trying to focus on getting better.  I don't really think about the record.  He was very, very good, though."

 

Royster is inching closer towards becoming the school's all-time leading rusher, but Warner will always be one of Joe Paterno's greatest players.  Congratulations to Curt as he is enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Glancing at the Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The first tipoff at the Bryce Jordan Center is fewer than four months away.  While we have a lot of fall sports activities to talk about between now and the upcoming men's hoops season, the non-conference schedule was released yesterday.

 

Let's take a closer look at who the Lions will meet prior to the Big Ten season.  The schedule includes 11 games (nine home, two away).  Of the 11, five teams won 20 or more games last season and made a postseason appearance.

 

Highlighting the list are trips to Mississippi and Virginia Tech and a home clash with Maryland.  Mississippi and Virginia Tech are potential Top 25 teams heading into the preseason.  Maryland lost All-American Greivis Vasquez, but still has a number of pieces in place from the NCAA Tournament team from last season.

 

Here is a brief snapshot of all 11 teams in the non-conference schedule:

 

4587962.jpegNov. 12 vs. Lehigh

- The Patriot League

- 2009-'10 Record: 22-11

- Postseason: Lost to Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

- 2009-'10 RPI: 142

 

Nov. 16 vs. Saint Joseph's

- Atlantic 10

- 2009-'10 Record: 11-20

- 2009-'10 RPI: 184

 

Nov. 19 vs. Fairfield

- MAAC

- 2009-'10 Record: 23-11

- 2009-'10 RPI: 82

 

Nov. 22 vs. Central Connecticut State

- Northeast Conference

- 2009-'10 Record: 12-18

- 2009-'10 RPI: 308

 

Nov. 26 at Mississippi

- SEC

- 2009-'10 Record: 24-11

- Postseason: NIT Final Four

- 2009-'10 RPI: 54

 

Nov. 28 vs. Furman

- Southern Conference

- 2009-'10 Record: 13-17

- 2009-'10 RPI: 278

 

Dec. 1 vs. Maryland

- ACC

- 2009-'10 Record: 24-9

- Postseason: Lost to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

- 2009-'10 RPI: 23

 

Dec. 4 Duquesne

- Atlantic 10

- 2009-'10 Record: 16-16

- 2009-'10 RPI: 115

 

Dec. 7 vs. Mount Saint Mary's

- Northeast Conference

- 2009-'10 Record: 16-15

- 2009-'10 RPI: 174

 

Dec. 12 at Virginia Tech

- ACC

- 2009-'10 Record: 25-9

- Postseason: NIT Quarterfinals

- 2009-'10 RPI: 58

 

Dec. 22 vs. Maine

- America East

- 2009-'10 Record: 19-11

- 2009-'10 RPI: 152

 

(NCAA RPIs used)

 

The average RPI for the 11 teams is 143.  The road trips to Virginia Tech and Mississippi will be very good tests for the Nittany Lions.  Also, hosting a national power like Maryland will be a strong non-conference game in early December.

 

The game to keep an eye on is Fairfield.  While you may not know much about MAAC basketball, Fairfield is going to be a very interesting game for the Nittany Lions.  The Stags return two players who averaged near 15 points per game.  Look for Fairfield to contend for the MAAC championship.

 

Also keep an eye on the stretch of games from Nov. 19-Dec. 1.  The Nittany Lions will play five games in the span of 13 days, including Fairfield, at Mississippi and Maryland.  That five-game span could play a big role in momentum heading into the conference season.  Tip times and TV plans will come at a later date.

Exploring Options for a Big Ten Football Championship Site

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - July is always a transition month for college sports fans.  The previous season is becoming ancient history.  And the new season still feels like it is a distant part of the future.

 

Believe it or not, though, Penn State's first athletic event of the fall is exactly one month away.  The women's soccer team is in action on Aug. 14. 

 

Move ahead one year.  At this time next summer, we will be talking about the changes in store for Penn State as it welcomes Nebraska to the athletic schedule for the first time as a member of the Big Ten.

 

The scheduling and travel arrangements for numerous Nittany Lion teams will change with Nebraska in the mix.  But arguably the biggest change to the conference's schedule will be on Dec. 3, 2011.  That is the date we expect the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship game.

 

DSC00439.JPGWhile the announcement of details for the championship game (if there is one) isn't expected until next month or beyond, there have been numerous discussions about a potential site for the game.  According to several media outlets online, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis would likely all express interest in hosting the game in 2011.

 

Let's take a closer look at the potential hosts for the championship game, should it become part of the future plan of the Big Ten.

 

Chicago:

Soldier Field, 61,500

Outdoor, Grass

 

Home of the Big Ten Conference office, Chicago is a great destination city for a championship football game.  The city is geographically friendly to a number of Big Ten institutions.  However, a cold December day in Chicago at an outdoor football game may be something to consider.  Granted, weather plays a role in Big Ten football, but deciding a championship game in adverse weather conditions is something that needs to be discussed.  The average high temperature, according to The Weather Channel, on Dec. 3 in Chicago is 41 degrees and a low of 28.  Chicago has a lot to offer, but the weather is a question mark.

 

Cleveland:

Cleveland Browns Stadium, 73,200

Outdoor, Grass

 

Much like Chicago's Soldier Field, Cleveland Browns Stadium is an attractive venue for the Big Ten title game.  The stadium would provide superb facilities for the fans, media and teams.  The location is also favorable for the vast majority of the conference's institutions.  However, the weather could likely play a factor in the game's outcome.  I can speak from experience after sitting at Cleveland Browns Stadium in blizzard-like conditions for an NFL game one December.  The stadium is situated on the banks of Lake Erie.  And lake-effect snow is common in Cleveland during the month of December.  Nonetheless, Cleveland has a lot to offer as a host of the Big Ten Championship game.

 

Detroit:

Ford Field, 65,000

Dome, FieldTurf

 

Just across Lake Erie from Cleveland is Ford Field in Detroit.  The host of Super Bowl XL, Ford Field is another fantastic facility for a championship football game.  It is an elite stadium in the NFL and would be a great venue for the championship game.  Weather would not be a factor inside the climate-controlled dome on Dec. 3.  Geographically, Detroit is a reasonable location for all 12 institutions in the Big Ten.  And the city of Detroit could significantly benefit from hosting the Big Ten title game.

 

Indianapolis:

Lucas Oil Stadium, 63,000

Dome, FieldTurf

 

The crown jewel of all new stadiums in Big Ten country is Lucas Oil Stadium.  The 63,000-seat home of the Indianapolis Colts is an immaculate facility.  The Circle City already hosts both the men's and women's basketball tournaments in March.  Adding the football championship seems like a logical decision.  Indianapolis presents the most central location for all 12 teams in the Big Ten.  Every institution is well within a day's drive.  Minneapolis and Lincoln are the farthest locales from Indy, but the drive from both cities is under 11 hours.  As is the case for the basketball tournament, Indianapolis is a great candidate to host the football championship.

 

 

Realistically, I would be surprised if Indianapolis is not selected to host the Big Ten Football Championship.  However, talks of venue rotation are intriguing to me.  All four cities are more than capable of hosting the game.  Should the Big Ten elect to host this game in a primetime TV slot, outdoor venues would be a stretch.  However, if the conference makes arrangements for day games when places like Chicago or Cleveland host, it might be interesting to see a game on natural grass in December.  Nonetheless, if I was put in charge of this decision, Lucas Oil Stadium seems like the best choice.

Another Season, Another Top 15 Finish in the Directors' Cup

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The final finishing order of the 2009-'10 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup was released earlier this month.  It comes as no real surprise that Penn State again finished in the top 15, marking the 12th time in the 17-year existence of the standings.  The Nittany Lions have been a fixture near the top of the Directors' Cup year after year.

 

Boosted by two national championships and five Big Ten titles, the Nittany Lions claimed 11th position this season with 971.30 points.  Duke clipped Penn State by 11 points for a top 10 finish.  Nevertheless, Penn State Athletics again illustrated that it is one of the nation's best with another impressive finish in the Directors' Cup.

 

Penn State is part of an elite list of 10 teams that have been part of the top 25 in the Directors' Cup during every year of its existence.  The list includes: Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Southern California, Stanford, Texas and UCLA.

 

Stanford won this year's Directors' Cup for the 16th consecutive season.  Florida finished second, Virginia third, UCLA fourth and Florida State was fifth.  The point totals are derived from an institution's finish in 20 sports - 10 men's and 10 women's.

 

As we have written numerous times throughout the summer, it was a tremendous season for Penn State Athletics in 2009-'10.  A top 15 finish in the Directors' Cup is a true representation of the success across the department.

 

A strong finish in the Directors' Cup should be celebrated by all 29 teams on the University Park campus.  Year-in and year-out numerous Penn State teams make significant runs in their respective postseason competitions.  And it can't be said enough how impressive that is.

 

Let's take a look at which teams counted towards Penn State's total in 2009-'10.  In all, 16 teams registered points for Penn State in this season's Directors' Cup.  Here is the list of teams, where they finished and the point total achieved:

 

5521465.jpegFall

Women's Cross Country - 14th - 48.0 pts

Football - 8th - 70.5 pts

Women's Soccer - 17th - 50 pts

Men's Soccer - 17th - 50 pts

Women's Volleyball - 1st - 100 pts

Fall Total: 318.50 pts

 

Winter

Fencing - 1st - 100 pts

Women's Gymnastics - 13th - 59.3 pts

Men's Gymnastics - 8th - 46 pts

Women's Swimming - 47th - 11 pts

Women's Track and Field (Indoor) - 13th - 63 pts

Men's Track and Field (Indoor) - 14th - 60 pts

Wrestling - 9th - 69 pts

Winter Total: 408.30 pts

 

Spring

Men's Golf - 29th - 45 pts

Women's Track and Field (Outdoor) - 4th - 80 pts

Men's Track and Field (Outdoor) - 23rd - 49.5 pts

Men's Volleyball - 2nd - 70 pts

Spring Total: 244.50 pts

 

2009-'10 Cumulative Total: 971.30 pts

 

 

Congratulations to the entire athletic department for another outstanding season in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.  The 2010-'11 campaign is just around the corner.

Sights and Sounds at Lift for Life

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After spending a day interviewing a variety of players at the Eighth Annual Lift for Life at Holuba Hall, I thought that I would pass along a few tidbits to the All-Sports Blog readers.  Be sure to stay tuned in the coming days.  We spoke with a number of players on camera that will be featured on the site in the next few days.  As for today, enjoy a few observations from our time in a stifling hot Holuba Hall.

 

Hats off to Brett Brackett and the Uplifting Athletes Leaders

You cannot begin to say how impressive the preparation for Lift for Life has become.  As we noted before the event, it is entirely organized and run by members of the team.  Senior wide receiver Brett Brackett is the President of Uplifting Athletes, which puts on Lift for Life.

 

Brackett did an outstanding job, once again.  He is a model student-athlete with great character and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make Lift for Life thrive.  The senior said upwards of 25 players volunteered to help out organizing this season.

 

"I have been President (of Uplifting Athletes) for three years now," Brackett said.  "When I first got here, Kevin Suhey and Jason Ganter were in charge.  They were good friends of mine and they talked to me about it from a business perspective.  I have always been big into community service.  I wanted to get involved.  I worked in marketing as a freshman and then they graduated and needed someone to take over.  I took it on.  I never really imagined to be as involved as I have been and for it to get as big as it has gotten."

5543652.jpeg

In addition to being the ambassador for the event, Brackett had a fine afternoon on the 11-stage workout.  Keep reading for more.

Money Raised and Winners

This year's Lift for Life raised an all-time high $98,461, up more than $15,000 from last year.  The grand total for eight years is on the brink of breaking $500,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.  As I said in the previous note, you can't give Brackett and the Uplifting Athletes group enough credit for what has been accomplished in the eight-year existence of the event.

 

As for the intrasquad competition, the team of Brett Brackett, Jack Crawford, Gerald Hodges and Michael Zordich took first place in the workout.  Of all the players on the roster, it isn't a big surprise that Jack Crawford's team took first.  He passes the visual football player test with flying colors.  Brackett has some bragging rights with his fellow receivers.  His name was on the board as the President of the event, leader of the leg curl and leg press and he was a member of the overall winning team.  He joked after his workout that if there is one thing about him, he has strong legs.

 

Incredible Heat

I have been going to Lift for Life for the past three years.  With the event slated for the second Friday in July, it is always warm and muggy in Holuba Hall.  But this year's event took heat and humidity in Holuba to a new level.  The participating athletes were pouring with sweat throughout the 11-stage workout.  Exhaustion after the workout is an understatement.

 

5543650.jpegI helped Bani Gbadyu up off the turf to do an interview with us after his workout.  The bulk of the squad looked as though they had walked through a sprinkler after finishing the tire flip, which is the 11th stage of the event.  But all of them could not say enough about how much they enjoyed seeing the fans and how much it meant to work out for such a great cause.

 

Offseason Notes of Interest

- Junior wide receiver Derek Moye may have said that he hasn't put on as much weight as he had hoped during the offseason, but he has bulked up significantly in his upper body.  The difference from how Moye looked in January to how he looks now is considerably noticeable.

 

- Evan Royster said that he has put on about 12 pounds (224 pounds), but he would like to drop down to around 218 for the season.

 

- Senior Stefen Wisniewski said that he expects to play right guard this season, although, he has done work during the offseason at center.

A Grueling Lift for a Great Cause

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For anyone on the Nittany Lion football team, a normal summer Friday consists of a routine workout.  Sure, the workout may not be routine for you and me, but the players are used to a strenuous day in the weight room.

 

But Lift for Life Friday is anything but ordinary.  The annual event is a strenuous test of physical and mental toughness unlike any other day of the year.  Until you have been to Lift for Life, you can't really get a feel for how much heart and soul the members of the football squad pour into the one-day event.

 

While the grueling test of strength and stamina is another day of preparation for the season, it is workout that means so much more than a touchdown on the scoreboard in September.  Lift for Life's proceeds directly benefit the fight against kidney cancer.  The participating players always talk about the cause and giving back to the fans, but they don't talk about it in an abstract sense.

 

The team looks at this event as a way to say thank you to the loyal Penn State fans by providing a significant boost to the Kidney Cancer Association.  Spectators are treated to an exhibition of physical strength that nearly everyone on the roster calls the "toughest workout of the year."

 

This year, 80 Nittany Lions will take part in the event.  The 80 players will be broken up into 20 teams of four athletes.  The workout itself will consist of 11 stations, ranging from leg press and bench press to unconventional tractor tire flipping and a sled pull.

5541496.jpegBy the time the 11th stage (tractor tire flipping) is completed, the players are usually on the ground with exhaustion.  Throw in the excessive heat and humidity this week and this year's event is shaping up to be even more punishing than usual.

 

But the athletes love every minute of it.  Following the workout, you will see the players meeting the fans, signing autographs and enjoying the day.  It is a superb event that Penn State fans greatly enjoy.  Lift for Life has generated more than $400,000 in its first seven years.  More than $40,000 has already been raised for the Kidney Cancer Association heading into the final days of fundraising this season.

 

And what a lot of people do not realize is that Lift for Life is solely organized by members of the football team.  There is no outside involvement.  Uplifting Athletes is the group that handles all aspects of Lift for Life and has truly made this an outstanding event.

 

Senior wide receiver Brett Brackett is the President of Uplifting Athletes.  Brackett deserves a lot of credit for building this event into what it has become.  Newcomers Mike Farrell, Ty Howle and Mike Yancich took over as Vice President, Head of Operations and Secretary, respectively, this season.

 

I caught up with Brackett earlier in the week when he and a number of players were in the Lasch Building's equipment room putting numbers on the back of the shirts that will be worn at Lift for Life.  He could not be happier with the involvement from the team for this event.

 

Brackett also mentioned that what makes the 11-stage workout so tough is just that, working through 11 stages.  He said the team participates in all 11 workouts over the course of a summer, but never all 11 on the same day.  Nonetheless, Brackett said that Lift for Life is a great barometer to see who has gotten stronger during the offseason.

 

It is a grueling workout for a great cause.  If you can't make it this year, make sure to be in Happy Valley next year for Lift for Life.  It is a pleasure to watch the effort put forth by the football squad to benefit kidney cancer awareness and research.

 

For more information about Penn State Football Uplifting Athletes or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit www.upliftingathletes.org or contact Deloris Brobeck at 814-865-1946 during normal business hours.

 

Stay tuned. We will have more from Lift for Life in the coming days.

All-Sports Blog Athlete of the Year...

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Part V in a five-part series on the All-Sports Blog Athlete of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The All-Sports Blog has spent four days presenting a case for a quartet of Penn State student-athletes to become the first Blog Athlete of the Year.

 

We opened with a national champion on the track.  We then shifted to an incredible comeback story for a men's soccer star.  Day three belonged to a three-time national champion in volleyball.  The final day was dedicated to the school's single season passing leader on the gridiron.

 

As we wrote throughout the week, all four athletes deserve this award.  But only one can be selected Blog Athlete of the Year.

 

While Daryll Clark, Bridget Franek and Jason Yeisley all manufactured superb seasons on their respective teams, you cannot argue with Megan Hodge's perfection.  The talented outside hitter from Durham, N.C., did not lose a match during her final two seasons at Penn State.  Hodge is the 2009-'10 Blog Athlete of the Year.

 

She left as part of the winningest class in Penn State's storied women's volleyball history.  Hodge accomplished things on the volleyball court that may never be accomplished again.  Playing the role she did in three consecutive national championships is an unbelievable achievement.

 

The North Carolina native has been labeled by many in the volleyball world as the greatest collegiate player ever.  It is tough to make a claim of that magnitude, but Hodge has numbers that back it up.  Without much debate, Hodge will go down as one of Penn State's greatest volleyball athletes of all-time, if not the greatest.

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Her list of accolades is staggering.  Among numerous awards, Hodge was a four-time All-American, two-time Big Ten Women's Volleyball Player of the Year, named the Touchdown Club of Columbus 2009 Female Athlete of the Year and a finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award.  In June, she was named Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year by the Big Ten and a co-recipient of the Honda-Broderick Cup.

 As we mentioned in the original story about Hodge, her awards were incredible, but the contributions she made during the national title runs are what separate Hodge from the rest of the athletes on campus.

 

Big-time players relish the opportunity to play on big stages.  Hodge rose to the occasion throughout her career of big matches, but she saved her biggest night for her last.  With Penn State's back to the wall, Hodge willed the Nittany Lions past Destinee Hooker and the Texas Longhorns in Tampa to claim an unprecedented third straight national championship last December.

 

Hodge and Hooker put on a show for the volleyball ages.  Like a heavyweight fight, the two dueled to the final point.  But it was Hodge's Nittany Lions who prevailed in a dramatic fifth set.  The performance in the national championship may not have been her best statistical night, but she stepped up when it counted in the biggest match of her career.

 

Hodge has shifted focus towards a career in professional volleyball and the U.S. National Team.  She left Penn State as one of the best players Russ Rose has ever coached.  Her accomplishments and accolades may never be touched.  As I wrote to begin this post, it is hard to argue with perfection.

 

Hodge's Big List for 2009-'10

- AVCA First Team All-American

- Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year

- Honda-Broderick Cup Award winner

- Led the Lions to a third straight national championship

- Nominated for an ESPY

 

 

We have made our decision for the Blog Athlete of the Year.  With July being a somewhat slow month for the athletic teams on campus, stay tuned for more in our summer series on the blog.

Blog Athlete of the Year Candidate IV: Daryll Clark

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Part IV in a five-part series on the All-Sports Blog Athlete of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before we begin to count down the days to the start of the 2010-'11 sports season, the All-Sports Blog is going to take a look back at 2009-'10.

 

We have pinpointed four standout athletes as candidates for Blog Athlete of the Year recognition.  While this award may fall short of the glitz and glamour of an ESPY, the Blog Athlete of the Year recognition honors incredible achievement on and off the field of play for one Penn State student-athlete.

 

The All-Sports Blog has pinpointed four candidates to become the Blog Athlete of the Year.  Our list includes women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge, track/cross country standout Bridget Franek, Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark and men's soccer forward Jason Yeisley.  Over the next four days, we will present a case for each of the four athletes before announcing our pick for the Blog Athlete of the Year.

 

After presenting our case for Bridget Franek, Megan Hodge and Jason Yeisley, we will pick things up this week with our final candidate.  Today, the All-Sports Blog will present its case for former Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark.

 

Clark earned first team All-Big Ten honors as a junior following a stellar season in 2008.  The Youngstown native returned for his senior season, but was nowhere to be found on the first or second team All-Big Ten preseason selections.

 

Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Illinois' Juice Williams were given the nod over Clark in the preseason.  Clark did not read anything into the preseason snub because that is not his style.  Nevertheless, there was no logic behind relegating the defending first team All-Big Ten honoree to the third team in July.

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As was been the case throughout his career, Clark buttoned up his chinstrap and did his talking on the field in 2009.  Despite replacing three of the program's all-time great receivers and three senior starters on the offensive line, Clark set single season Penn State records for most touchdown passes (24) and yardage (3,003) in 2009.

 

After finishing 22-4 as a starter for Penn State, Clark earned first team All-Big Ten honors for the second-straight season.  To see how rare that feat is, just look at the names he joined on the elite list of two-time All-Big Ten first team quarterbacks - Drew Brees, Tony Eason, Bob Griese and Chuck Long.  There was a time when Clark wasn't sure if he was going to play college football whe  n he spent a season at Kiski Prep school.  The hard-working Ohio native left Penn State as a two-time first team All-Big Ten player.

 

Clark finished his Nittany Lion career in grand style.  The Youngstown product led the Lions on a game-winning drive to oust LSU in the Capital One Bowl.  Clark played an instrumental role in Penn State's back-to-back 11-win season.

 

Clark left the program after posting an 85 percent winning percentage as a starting quarterback.  In addition to his glowing records, Clark was one of the classiest, hardest working individuals you will ever meet.  His competitiveness is second to none.  He was always a pleasure to talk to and a superb spokesman for the program.  No. 17 is a rare talent that will be missed.

 

 

Clark's Big List for 2009-'10

- Big Ten MVP (Silver Football)

- Two-time first team All-Big Ten QB

- Became the season (24) and career (43) leader in touchdown passes

- He became the first PSU quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a single season

- Led the Lions to a 19-17 victory over LSU at the Capital One Bowl for a Top 10 finish

 

 

We have given our take on Bridget Franek, Megan Hodge, Daryll Clark and Jason Yeisley.  Tomorrow, we will announce our selection.  Stay tuned.

Blog Athlete of the Year Candidate III: Megan Hodge

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Part III in a five-part series on the All-Sports Blog Athlete of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before we begin to count down the days to the start of the 2010-'11 sports season, the All-Sports Blog is going to take a look back at 2009-'10.

 

We have pinpointed four standout athletes as candidates for Blog Athlete of the Year recognition.  While this award may fall short of the glitz and glamour of an ESPY, the Blog Athlete of the Year recognition honors incredible achievement on and off the field of play for one Penn State student-athlete.

 

The All-Sports Blog has pinpointed four candidates to become the Blog Athlete of the Year.  Our list includes women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge, track/cross country standout Bridget Franek, Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark and men's soccer forward Jason Yeisley.  Over the next four days, we will present a case for each of the four athletes before announcing our pick for the Blog Athlete of the Year.

 

After presenting our case for Bridget Franek and Jason Yeisley, we have turned to women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge for part three of the five-part series.  There are arguments in the volleyball world to label Hodge one of the greatest collegiate players of all time.  While it is tough to make a claim of that nature, Hodge might just have the numbers to back it up.

 

Hodge left Penn State as a member of the most successful class in program history.  Among numerous other awards, Hodge was a four-time All-American, two-time Big Ten Women's Volleyball Player of the Year, named the Touchdown Club of Columbus 2009 Female Athlete of the Year and a finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award.

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Last week, the Durham, N.C., native was named Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year by the Big Ten and a co-recipient of the Honda-Broderick Cup.  The awards, alone, are superb, but Hodge's biggest contribution to the program was her role in three straight national championships.

 

Hodge was instrumental in guiding Penn State to all three championships.  She graduated in May with just five losses on her resume, including back-to-back undefeated seasons. 

 

The 2009 season was especially impressive for Hodge.  She tallied 4.67 kills per set while leading the Lions to a 38-0 record and third national championship.  Hodge's individual performance in the national title game against Texas was arguably one of the best in her career.

 

It may not have been her best statistical night, but what Hodge was doing on the biggest stage in the sport made it an epic performance.  Hodge and Texas ace Destinee Hooker went toe-to-toe through five sets, but Hodge prevailed with a match-clinching kill to hand the Nittany Lions their third title in as many seasons.

 

Hodge left as one of the best players Russ Rose has ever coached.  Her accomplishments and accolades may never be touched.  As I have written before, it is hard to argue with perfection.  And Hodge led two teams to a perfect season.

 

Hodge's Big List for 2009-'10

- AVCA First Team All-American

- Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year

- Honda-Broderick Cup Award winner

- Led the Lions to a third straight national championship

- Nominated for an ESPY

 

We have given our take on Bridget Franek, Jason Yeisley and Megan Hodge.  Next up is Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark. Stay tuned.

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