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February 2016 Archives

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second year in a row, the Penn State women's hockey team swept their way through the first round of the CHA playoffs.

The team swept two-time defending champion RIT with a 2-0 win on Friday and a 3-2 thriller on Saturday. Both games got off to a strong start for the Nittany Lions; two of their best opening periods of the season.

"I was very happy with our start on Friday," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "I was even happier with our start today, in some aspects it was better and it was great to get that goal from Laura Bowman to start us off."

Bowman netted her 15th and 16th goals of the season in the series, tying her own program record set last season. Also, with her goal on Saturday, she became Penn State's sole leader in goals scored in her career, with 42. Captain and senior Shannon Yoxheimer then netted her 42nd goal of her career as well, late in the second period to tie Bowman for the program lead.

"I have to give all the credit to my line-mates," said Bowman. "Amy [Petersen] has been my line-mate for almost 10 years and she has always been so good at setting me up. [Hannah] Bramm has been awesome this year as well, she is kind of the perfect third piece to our line, so it's really been a lot of work from them to get me to where I am."

For Yoxheimer, her unassisted goal was her eighth of the season, tying her at the top as her and Bowman now share the all-time goals scored title for this young program.

"It feels good to just contribute and to be able to be a part of this program and help it grow like it has, it's a nice feeling," Yoxheimer said.

Brandwene also had high remarks for both players who have been intricate in Penn State's success as a program.

"They are just consummate team players and competitors," said Brandwene. "I can tell you for sure that the thing on their mind is the W today and they are all about team success."

Penn State put together two solid nights of play, starting with a win Friday behind yet another stellar goaltending performance from Celine Whitlinger. Whitlinger, who ranks top 10 in the nation in both goals against average and save percentage, stopped all 20 shots she faced en route to a shutout. 

"The game started kind of slow for me," said Whitlinger who only faced two shots in the first period. "I like having more work as a goalie so when they started throwing more shots on net it was fun for me to be able to step up and help my team out."

In game two, the squad turned to Hannah Ehresmann in net. Ehresmann was backed by a strong start, which featured three goals in the first period and a half. In the third RIT came out firing, netting two early goals before Penn State called a timeout. After the timeout, the Nittany Lions settled in and got into a great rhythm to finish the game and earn the series sweep.

"Thrilled with our response after the timeout," said Brandwene. "Credit to RIT, that's a world class program there and they showed a lot of fight. Any time you can knock off the two time defending CHA champions, it's a pretty nice feeling."

Penn State is now set for another semi-final showdown against the Syracuse Orange. Syracuse defeated Penn State 2-0 last year in the semifinals to end the Nittany Lion's season. The rivalry has accelerated rapidly over the past two seasons as eight of the last nine meetings with the Orange have been decided by one goal or less.

"It's always competitive and always entertaining," said Brandwene of the match up. "We can't wait to get after it, it's going to be a lot of fun."

That CHA semi-final contest will take place this upcoming Friday, at Harbor Center in Buffalo, New York.

 

Nittany Lions Extend Winning Streak To 11

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11738401.jpeg By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions made it 11 wins in a row after sweeping the weekend series against Charleston (W.V.) and George Mason in Rec Hall.

The EIVA-leading Nittany Lions (12, 6-0 EIVA) swept Charleston in three sets on Friday and dispatched George Mason in four sets on Saturday to claim their 11th and 12th wins of the season. Charleston, a newly-minted program was a match that head coach Mark Pavlik believed may be a let down for the team, however, Penn State started strong and finished stronger in the first match of the weekend.

"I thought this match could have been a let down for our guys," Pavlik said. "To their credit, everyone on the court competed and played well for us tonight."

Penn State uses the mentality of constant team improvement as is evident by the way that they quickly fix mistakes or issues during matches. For Friday's match, the theme was obviously to win, but more so to get better during the match and use it as a tool for improvement.

"I think we are always trying to improve when we go out there," said redshirt freshman libero Royce Clemens. "Everyone out on the court did a great job of keeping the energy at a high level and most importantly just doing their job point in and point out."

Chris Nugent led the Nittany Lions on the night with a team-high eight kills. However, there was a somewhat unexpected bright spot for Penn State as Matt McLaren poured in seven kills on a .500 hitting percentage.

"Matt did a great job," Pavlik said. "I think that this match was a great opportunity to get some guys playing time and to keep everyone fresh and Matt was certainly a guy who stepped up for us tonight. We know what he is capable of since we see it in practice, but it's always nice to get out on the court and produce."

In game two of the weekend, Penn State defeated George Mason in a matchup of the two preseason EIVA favorites. Penn State dropped the third set, but won sets one, two and four fairly handily to complete the solid weekend.

For the Nittany Lions on Saturday night, Nugent was the star of the match, terminating 16 swings at a clip of almost .400 to lead Penn State once again. However, it was the play of Spencer Sauter that really balanced the Nittany Lions on offense and led to the win.

"Any time that Spencer comes in it kind of helps everyone else relax," said Matt Seifert. "You know what you're going to get with him, some good ball control and just an overall solid demeanor and that was really helpful for us tonight."

The Nittany Lions have been labeled as grinders this season and as a team that doesn't give in easily. That mantra was on display against George Mason as Penn State didn't have its best match, but was able to grind things out and ultimately commit fewer errors than George Mason.

"I don't think we played our best tonight by any means," Pavlik said. "That's going to happen, but what great teams do is they find ways to win when that is the case. For us tonight we let Mason commit the errors and when we had chances we usually put them away. It wasn't anything flashy, we just battled very well tonight."

George Mason committed 22 service errors, effectively handing the Nittany Lions a set off of those points. For Penn State and Seifert, the mentality was to keep it clean and don't fall in to the trap of trying to do too much.

"We always try to keep our game clean," said Seifert. "We practice a lot of high pressure situations so we are ready for them when they come our way during the game, it was good to see us limit errors for most of the night."

Penn State has one more weekend series before spring break. The Nittany Lions will take on Cal State Northridge and No. 1 Long Beach State on March 4 and 5. 


Nittany Lions Unable to Take Down Wildcats

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11735932.jpeg By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite the momentum from a win at Cornell last week, the No. 15/12 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-1) was unable to defeat Villanova (1-1) during the Nittany Lions' first outdoor home game of the season on Saturday. The Wildcats defeated the Nittany Lions 19-9. 

Penn State's 3-0 start to the season was its best since 2002, but was cut short of reaching 4-0 for the first time since 1992.

At the starting whistle, both teams were eager for possession time. The Nittany Lions took several shots on net, but Villanova scored first. Junior midfielder Mike Sutton answered for the Nittany Lions, tying the score 1-1.

At the half, the Lions trailed the Wildcats 8-3.

At the start of the fourth quarter Penn State was down 16-7. Freshman attack man Grant Ament kicked off the fourth quarter for the Lions, finding the back of the net with 12:11 left to go. However, a relentless defensive performance from the Wildcats held back the Lions on attack.

Two more Nittany Lions scored in the fourth, to inch Penn State closer on the scoreboard. Jimmy Nowoswiat and Robby Black, both freshmen, scored with less than a minute and a half left in the fourth, but it wasn't enough to bring the Lions back.


"We seemed to not have a lot of rhythm today," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "I don't know if that was due to possession time, our mindset, or maybe our opponent, but the momentum never seemed to shift in our favor."

Several Nittany Lions had multi-point games, including junior Nick Aponte, senior TJ Sanders, and freshman Grant Ament, who had one goal and one assist each. Freshman Kevin Hill scored his first collegiate goal, notching two in Saturday's contest.

Tambroni noted earlier in the week how important communication is for the team, and saw a positive performance from his players on the field Saturday with their ability to make connections and vocalize on the field.

"I don't think [communication] was one of our weaknesses today," said Tambroni. "The little things really just seemed to hurt us."

Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions are on the road at Penn this Saturday and are eager to bounce back and get another win on the road.

For the Lions, there are several things they would like to improve on before their next contest.

"We're going to work on face offs," said junior attack man Nick Aponte. "We're going to really focus on Penn, on their personnel, really just what we can do to get a fire back under us and try to keep on rolling with the rest of the season."

Tambroni explained it's vitals for the Nittany Lions to have a refreshed mindset this week during practice. The team's ability to move on quickly from a loss and restart the momentum for another matchup is critical to success week-to-week.

"I just said to our guys that no matter what you do, when you leave the turf you're either 1-0 or 0-1," said Tambroni. "It's not like you lose the season in one game, it's not like you win a championship in one game during the regular season, and I talked about the same thing after Cornell. It's important for us to just learn from our mistakes and create confidence from the things that we did well." 

Nittany Lions Head to South Carolina

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By Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the season opening weekend under its belt, the Penn State baseball team is headed to No. 15 South Carolina for the next series on the docket.

The Lions opened 2016 with a 2-2 mark in action at Cary, N.C., last week.

The Nittany Lions swept the Army in a doubleheader last Saturday with a close score of 5-4 in the first game and 11-0 in the second. Underclassmen pitching by Sal Biasi and Justin Hagenman kept the leads strong in both games, pitching six and seven innings, in super starting efforts.

The team faced some hiccups against Monmouth and Bryant, having both games results in a 3-1 score in favor of the opponents. Though the Lions had a tougher time facing the Hawks and Bulldogs, head coach Rob Cooper was overall pleased with the outcome of the weekend.

"I was pleased with a lot of things that we did. I felt that their overall mindset was where it needed to be," Cooper said. "It's the first time since I've been here that I truly felt like our guys thought they were going to win all four games."

With the team falling short of winning all four games, Cooper noticed that those loses weren't interfering with the players' mindsets.

"That mind set in truly believing that you are going to win is something that we haven't done a good job of," Cooper said. "To watch them compete the way they did, then find a way to win, and be in all four games to have a chance to win; I was pleased with the weekend overall.

As for some of the mistakes on the field, Cooper said that most of the miscues made were aggressive ones, and were good for the players. Cooper, along with the rest of the coaching staff, wants the players to not be afraid of making mistakes.

"The good thing is that they were aggressive, and you can dial that back a little bit and hone it in," Cooper said.

One thing to keep in mind is that the team is very young this year. With 11 true freshmen joining this season, the players have a lot to learn to ease into this level of playing.

"Those guys have to learn what it's like to win games at that level. This team has to learn what it's like to win games at this level," Cooper said. "I think you'll see us continue to get better as the season goes on.

"To me, the number one thing is if we can duplicate that mind set, every time out, then we have a chance to win a lot of games."

When asked how pitching will improve and get stronger throughout the season, Cooper said that the biggest improvement already since the past two years has been starting pitchers lasting past the fifth inning. 

"When you're able to give quality starts as a starting pitcher, it makes your bull pen stronger and has more guys available," Cooper said. "Just the fact that our guys really commanded the ball well and pitched on the attack, I think they did really well."

"As a team we think we did really well, 2-2,we felt like we could've pulled those two loses out and turn them into wins," said infielder Jim Haley. "We're very happy with how we did and it definitely set the tone for the season coming up."

When asked on his own thoughts of how this season already compares to previous ones, Haley said that there are big differences that he and the team talk about a lot.

"There is a belief that we can win," Haley said. "Especially with these young guys taking a role in pitching, did very well this weekend."

As for this upcoming weekend, Haley said that the team is optimistic and viewing this weekend just like any other series, hoping to improve from the outcome.

The first game of the three-game series is set to start Friday at 4 p.m.



Garner, Taylor Lead Lions to Third Straight Win

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11726270.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind 41 points and 10 combined 3-pointers from Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor, the Nittany Lions fended off a furious Nebraska rally in a 56-55 triumph during their third-straight win on Thursday.

Penn State (15-13, 6-9) led the Cornhuskers (14-15, 6-10) by 18, 44-26, with 13:40 on the clock, and things were operating smoothly on both ends of the floor. However, the Cornhuskers scored the next nine points to begin a surge.

Nebraska used an 11-0 run to tie the game at 55-55 in the final minute, but it was Shep Garner's free throw with 7.2 seconds to play that lifted the Lions to their fourth win in their last five outings and their third in a row inside the BJC.

"I was really proud of Shep (Garner) at the end there. He saw that alleyway there. We had a feeling he was going to see that," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "And we knew it was one-on-one or hopefully two shots, so he made the one that counted."

Chambers said that Taylor took command of the huddles in the second half to ensure that the Lions would find a way to win. Penn State took two big punches from Nebraska in the second half. One sliced the Lion lead to 47-41 with 7:54 to go.

Taylor and Garner then countered with back-to-back threes to make it a 12-point game with 6:55 to go. However, that would be Penn State's final field goal of the night. Instead, the Lions needed to find a way to slow the Husker surge, which ultimately tied the game with 50.3 seconds to go.

Following Garner's free throw, Donovon Jack contested the last-ditch shot from Shavon Shields to clinch the Penn State victory. In previous seasons, Taylor is convinced that under similar circumstances the result may have been different for the Blue and White.

"I think the turnovers from myself and a few other players is what got them back in the game," said Taylor. "I think that's a great win for us we grinded it out and in past years we might have not won that game. That's a great job from everybody and like coach said in the locker room, that's a great win and you only have to win by one, so we'll take it."

The result goes back to what has been said frequently about Taylor in 2015-16. The Tabernacle, N.J., native is carrying himself in a manner that permeates a refuse to lose mantra within the team. Therefore, it's no coincidence that the Lions are finding ways to win during the stretch run of the season. Taylor just won't let the Lions stumble.

"His mentality is one of a boxer. Just keep fighting, keep punching. His leadership has been outstanding. Outstanding," said Chambers. "He commanded some of those huddles out there late in the second half. He was the one being more vocal when I was trying to give him that time before I went into the huddle and he commanded it. It was great to hear, great to see, and I felt very confident down the stretch. No matter what was happening."

Moving into the final three games, two of which coming at home, the Lions are going to need more scoring output outside of Garner and Taylor. The duo was fun to watch on Thursday, but the rest of the team accounted for just 15 points in the Nebraska game.

"We have to continue to share the ball. Payton (Banks) has been playing terrific," said Chambers. "Josh (Reaves) is now. Josh (Reaves) was in foul trouble. But we have to keep working on other guys stepping up and making plays. We're a much better team when we have three and four guys in double figures."

Penn State now shifts focus towards a matchup against No. 6 Michigan State on Sunday in the Breslin Center. The Nittany Lions are a much different team than the one that played the Spartans on Jan. 10 (92-65).

"I think we a lot tougher and more mature," said Chambers. "We are playing with a great deal of confidence. We are growing up and playing more consistently. If we continue this pattern and take this on the road, we will give ourselves a chance to compete."

The Nittany Lions are in sole possession of ninth place in the Big Ten standings with three regular season games to play before the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a slow opening weekend at the "Kick-Off Classic," the Nittany Lions exploded for 33 runs a week later at the Dolphin Invite in Jacksonville, going 4-1 on the weekend.

The shift in momentum came from a more relaxed team that found a way to capitalize on runners in scoring position.

"[I saw] the ability to calm ourselves in pressure situations," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "Our opening weekend, we had runners in scoring position and opportunities, but we were trying to be too big and win the game on one hit, where this weekend it was back to what we do well."

Leading the flurry of runs was starting catcher Alyssa VanDerveer, who had a team-high 6 RBIs. Lehotak wasn't seeing anything new from her, but rather she saw VanDerveer playing as if "she was back to her old self."

"Opening weekend, she had opportunities, but she was so big if you watched her swing," Lehotak said. "This weekend, to me, she really cut down her swing and did what she does well, which is shorten up and put the ball in play. When she stays within herself, stays balanced, she has a weekend like she did this past weekend."

VanDerveer credits not only her patience, but also the rest of the lineup for her impressive weekend. Batting at the bottom of the lineup has its perks when the rest of the team is getting on base.

"It helps having hitters earlier in the lineup getting on base and being able to move them in," VanDerveer said.

Senior Lexi Knief is hoping that the calmness and the ability to score runs that the team displayed in Jacksonville will carry over into Orlando. 

"Mostly we were just staying really calm. The first weekend we went out there, I wouldn't say we had the jitters or anything, but we might have been pressing a little too much. But this weekend we just came back to practice, we stayed calm and we did what we normally do," Knief said.

Lehotak is looking for the momentum of four wins to carry over into the Citrus Classic in Orlando this weekend. With games against Yale, Fordham, Notre Dame and North Florida, Lehotak is up for the challenge of another tournament on the road. 

Despite the successful weekend bringing the team back to .500 on the year, Lehotak knows that her team is not playing their best softball. And even so, she's okay with that.

"We're still not playing great ball, which I don't want us to play great ball yet," Lehotak said. "Pitching wise, we're still giving up way too many walks. Offensively, even though we went 4-1 this weekend, there are some things we would like to do better. Early in the game, we kind of got away from our plan when it wasn't going our way. I would like us to stay within our plan."

The Citrus Classic will be the last tournament for the Lady Lions in Florida. But with weather still hovering around freezing in Happy Valley, the team won't be able to take the field at Nittany Lions Softball Park anytime soon. They'll have a trip down to Mississippi over spring break before they can play on their home field on March 19th.

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By; Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
NIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- There is no question that the Penn State women's lacrosse team is full of talent. Last season, the team earned themselves a Big Ten Tournament Championship, something they should all be proud of.

With many talented graduating seniors leaving the team after their strong 2015 season, the Nittany Lions were in need of some new talent to fill their shoes. Thankfully, the team has recruited many talented new faces that have already stepped up to the plate and brought the team much success.

Freshman Madison Carter is just one of those new players, but she is definitely starting to prove that she deserves a spot on the team and is up to the challenge of bringing the team back to last year's high level.

This past Tuesday, Carter was named the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player and Freshman of the Week, by the conference office. She is the first Nittany Lion to earn either of these awards this season, which speaks a lot to her performance so far throughout her first season with the team.

Carter is thrilled to receive these awards, but has remained humble. She still wants to continue on through the season playing her hardest and giving all that she can to the game.

"It definitely really exciting, but I just go out every game working and playing really hard and do what I can do for the team," said Carter.

Carter has credited a number of things to her successful transition onto the team. The first being the supportive upperclassman players, who have played one of the biggest roles in making the new players, like herself, feel more comfortable coming onto the team. 

"The older players are so amazing and welcoming. The team dynamic is incredible and the older players have really helped the freshman to feel acclimated with everything," said Carter.

She also says that the coaches have played a big part in getting her comfortable going from game play at the high school level to the college level, by giving her the necessary push to do her best. 

 "College games are certainly a lot faster and more physical. It's definitely a change of speed, but you get thrown into the game and are forced to adjust quickly," said Carter. "The coaches have been driving me to play my best and push me hard every day in practice, so I credit a lot of my success to them."

It is not just Carter who has been successful this season, though; the entire team has seen much success already, winning their first two games of the season. Penn State earned their first victory against Lehigh with a score of 13-6. The team earned their second win this past weekend against Duquesne with an impressive score of 19-5. 

Carter believes that the success the team has had so far stems from the relationships the girls have formed with each other throughout the season.

"I love being on the team and playing with the girls everyday. We are a very tight-knit team and being together everyday definitely helps us to play so well together."

The team is only two games into the season, but so far things are looking good for the Nittany Lions. With lots of old and new talent, like Carter, this season shows a lot of promise for Penn State.  Coming off a Big Ten Tournament win last season, the girls are up to the challenge.

The team will play their third game of the regular season, this Saturday at the University of Virginia, starting at 12 p.m.

 

Men's Hoops Gameday 2015-16 - Penn State vs. Nebraska (2/25/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage of the 2015-16 Nittany Lion basketball season. The Nittany Lions return home on Thursday for a matchup against Nebraska.

Live Blog Men's Hoops Gameday 2015-16 - Penn State vs. Nebraska (2/25/16)
 

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's all about the team aspect when the Penn State track and field program competes against other Big Ten institutions in the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio this Friday and Saturday.

 

After months of preparation dating back to late August, head coach John Gondak and the Nittany Lions have reached a meet they've had circled on the calendar. The Nittany Lions feel like the six meet indoor regular season has them prepared and battle-tested for an opportunity to pursue both men's and women's team titles.

 

"This weekend is a weekend where we try to go have people win individual Big Ten championships as well as score as many points as we can as a team," said Gondak.

 

When individual athletes win their events it definitely helps the team strive towards winning a title, but Gondak believes there is an underlying factor to team championships.

 

"A championship isn't won by the people that win their meets, a championship is won by people that place in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth can get those extra points for your team," said Gondak.

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Instead of competing for times and measurements in normal regular season meets, it's now essentially about beating the competition. Two athletes who have been setting quick times and beating most of their competition this year are senior Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) and junior Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.).

 

Kidder, one of the middle-distance runners on the No. 17 nationally ranked men's team, comes into this weekend with the fastest men's 800-meter time (1:47.01) in the Big Ten and fifth in the country. He's also the anchor leg on the Big Ten leading men's distance medley which is third nationally. For Kidder, the importance lies in the overall team's success this weekend.

 

"Big Tens is always a fun meet because it means a lot more when you're racing for the team and not just for yourself," said Kidder.

 

Masterson, the leader of the pole vault event group has broken the Penn State school record multiple times this year with her highest clearance of 13' 9.25" (4.20m).

 

"Coming into this week I'm expecting big things from my group. I'm just hoping to score well for the team," said Masterson.

 

Kidder and Masterson are just two athletes of a long list of standout Penn State athletes. Here are a few of the top Nittany Lion track and field athletes that are looking earn Penn State valuable individual points in the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championship.

 

Athletes to watch on the men's team (TFRRS rankings coming into the weekend):

Athlete(s)

Event

Time/Distance

Big Ten Rank

NCAA Rank

Jordan Makins, Alex Shisler, Isaiah Harris, Brannon Kidder

Distance Medley Relay

9:27.20

1st

3rd

Brannon Kidder

800m

1:47.01

1st

5th

Isaiah Harris

800m

1:47.31

2nd

7th

Xavier Smith

60m

6.68 seconds

1st

23rd

Malik Moffett

200m

21.02 seconds

1st

17th

Chisom Ifedi

High Jump

7' 1.5"

3rd

T-16th

Athletes to watch on the women's team (TFRRS rankings coming into the weekend):

Athlete(s)

Event

Time/Distance

Big Ten Rank

NCAA Rank

Dannielle Gibson

Triple Jump

43' 1.5"

1st

14th

Tessa Barrett

5,000m

15:46.08

2nd

7th

Rachel Fatherly

Shot Put

56' 8"

2nd

7th

Rachel Fatherly

Weight Throw

6' 3.25"

3rd

20th

Tori Gerlach

3,000m

9:13.65

2nd

12th

Tori Gerlach

Mile

4:37.83

3rd

18th

Quenee Dale

60m Hurdles

8.26 seconds

3rd

20th

Lexi Masterson

Pole Vault

13' 9.25"

3rd

T-21st

Elizabeth Chikotas

5,000m

16:04.66

4th

26th

Callaway's Consistency a Big Part of Penn State's Success

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to Penn State's Matt Callaway.

The redshirt junior occupies the middle blocker position on the court for the Nittany Lions and also boasts a team high .482 hitting percentage. That means that Callaway puts away roughly half of the balls he is set, resulting in an efficiency that effectively enhances Penn State's offense.

"I really try not to make errors and just be one of the steady guys on the court," Callaway said. "I think being consistent is something that every player aspires to do so I'm happy that is how my play is looked at."

Head coach Mark Pavlik certainly agrees with the consistency sentiment directed toward Callaway saying that he is a guy that they can count on to limit errors and put balls away when the team needs points.

"You know what you're going to get from Matt," Pavlik said. "When he is up quick he makes good decisions and he can move the ball around. He has also been on the court for quite a while so nothing much out there surprises him."

Callaway has indeed been a large part of the Penn State team for a few years now and has gained experience through matches against some of the toughest competition in the nation. Although he has always been consistent when it comes to attacking, Pavlik and Callaway agree that the blocking aspect of his game has certainly improved, especially coming into this year.

"His blocking has really gotten better," Pavlik said. "It's so much better and I think that 'get it' alert has gone off. He gets it and he has worked real hard to be a middle that scores points for us."

Pavlik says that the process for Callaway to become that offensive middle hasn't been easy. Despite always being consistent, he says the offense last year didn't come easily for the 6-7 middle. However, Callaway has been patient and that is one of the things he feels like he has learned the most here at Penn State and through playing at this level.

"[I think] I've really learned to be patient," Callaway said. "It's trying not to be frustrated when things aren't going your way because it's a tough sport and a lot of things can happen. So for me it's really been just staying patient and realizing that the games going to come to you."

Pavlik believes that the patience of Callaway has also contributed to his increase in blocking efficiency. So much so that he currently sits No. 6 in the nation in blocks per set. Callaway says that blocking was a huge focus of his in the offseason.

"It was definitely something I focused on," Callaway said. "Our team hasn't been one of the better blocking teams in a while I would say. This summer I watched a lot of international play to see what those guys were doing to help them block so well. It was watching a lot of film and then incorporating that in to my game that really made the difference I think."

Pavlik agrees that Callaway has improved leaps and bounds with his blocking and that the added film time certainly played a factor in where he is at now.

"I think that [blocking] is the hardest skill to master," said Pavlik. "You can do everything right and have nothing to show for it. I think that is toughest thing for blockers to understand and Matt has gotten really good at doing the same thing over and over again."

Even with all of his success this season, Callaway is quick to deflect the praise to his teammates. He credits Taylor Hammond, the top setter in the nation in terms of assists per set, as a big reason why he is having so much success.

"A lot of it is my teammates," Callaway said. "[Hammond] has given me some great sets all season and the pin hitters that we have as well free up a lot of space for me. So first and foremost its them."

Moving forward, Callaway remains in the team oriented mindset, saying that the next step for the sixth ranked team in the nation is a killer mentality.

"We need a killer instinct now," Callaway said. "When were up by eight or nine points we need to play harder, not let up."

For Penn State the next hurdle in the schedule is this weekend when they take on Charleston (W.V.) and George Mason. First serve is set for 7 p.m. both nights.



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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playoff hockey is different. Ask anyone involved with the game of hockey and they will agree with that statement.

After a hard fought come from behind 2-2 tie last Saturday at Mercyhurst, Penn State earned a College Hockey America (CHA) conference third place regular season finish - its highest in program history.  This season will also mark the second year in a row that Penn State will host the first round of the CHA playoffs at Pegula Ice Arena.

"We've been saying for a while that there is nothing better than playoff hockey," said captain Shannon Yoxheimer. "To be able to play at home as well is a really big deal for us too. Knowing that the senior week series wasn't our last home game is nice and it is always exciting to have one more series here." 

The team is even more excited after the performance that they put forth against Mercyhurst, a team that is 14-4-3 in CHA conference play. Despite a loss Friday, the 2-2 tie on Saturday showed just how much this team has grown and improved since the calendar has turned to 2016.

"I think it was one of our best team games overall," said Laura Bowman. "We stuck with each other in that second game. One of the things were working on before the playoffs is stopping in front of the net so we can get those second chance opportunities."

Only a day separates the Penn State women's hockey team from their first game of the best of three against RIT. However, a lot separates regular season play from the postseason, as Yoxheimer and Bowman know well. 

"I think it's just the excitement of the playoffs," said Yoxheimer. "When it comes to this time of the year, it is an all out overall battle. During the season it is a battle but it is even more of a fight during the playoffs."

For head coach Josh Brandwene, he said he was very pleased with the grit that the Penn State team showed during their trip to Mercyhurst. As Bowman said, the Nittany Lions were skating hard and battling for every loose puck. Brandwene says that the type of grittiness that Penn State exhibited in the matchup this past weekend is exactly the kind of fight that they need heading into the playoffs.

"Grit with a capital G during the playoffs," said Brandwene. "It's something that this team has demonstrated all year and it's something that we have gotten better and better at as well. When it comes down to it, this is one resilient group."

Despite the added emotions of the playoffs and also the added game in the now best of three series, Penn State is keeping the mentality of one game at a time heading into Friday's matchup against RIT. For the seniors on the team, this is a matchup that they have now been in 20 times since they came to Penn State. With all that familiarity, there are no secrets between the two teams.

Bowman said, "If we can play our game and skate as well as we do, I have confidence that we can win. We are just focused on Friday."

Friday marks the start of the playoffs, not just another game. Although it may seem like it, being played by the same teams on the same sheet of ice, there is always something different about playoff hockey.

"If you think about it, logically nothing changes," said Brandwene. "At the same time, it's the most fun time of the year. Playoffs in any sport are exciting and the atmosphere you have in playoff hockey, nothing can compare to it."

Game one of the best of three series kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night. Game two is set for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and if necessary game three will be Sunday at 2:00 p.m. 

Luke Juha: The Penn State Hockey Experience

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11724016.jpegBy Erica Avallone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are a variety of things you could say about Luke Juha and the Penn State men's hockey program as a whole - hardworking, relentless, accomplished, only four years into the NCAA.

But that doesn't begin to cover who Juha is as a person or a player and how the Penn State men's hockey team has changed him.


Juha left his home in Mississauga, Ontario, to begin his junior career in 2009. Playing for the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League, Juha dreamed of playing for a NCAA hockey program. When head coach Guy Gadowsky called him and extended the invitation to play at Penn State, that dream wasn't guaranteed.

Juha and his fellow seniors took a leap of faith and committed to play at Penn State, not knowing what exactly was to happen, or if they would have to wait out some "growing seasons".

Having played in its final home game last Saturday, Penn State's first four-year Division I class can now look back and see that coming to Penn State during the building years was one of the best things they have ever done.

"Penn State Hockey is our baby," said Juha. "For me it was incredibly special to have the opportunity to start a program with these eight seniors."

Juha, an accomplished defenseman, did not always have it easy on the ice. Battling through injuries every year as a Nittany Lion took a toll on his game and his mindset. Having to sit out games sporadically every campaign made Juha work that much harder to be an impact player when he did take the ice.

This season Juha, an assistant captain, leads the team with 59 blocks and is second on the team with a plus-16 rating. He has totaled 20 points in 28 games this season.

Juha leads by example, consistently trying to do the right thing and be a role model. Juha and the other seniors only have a few more weeks to leave their lasting impression on the younger guys and the program as a whole.

"I want them to have the same love we do for this program," said Juha.

The Penn State hockey experience is like no other. The culture in Hockey Valley is unprecedented. Juha has said that a huge part of the team's success on the ice comes from their love for each other off the ice.

"These are my best friends," said Juha. "I would do anything for them, and I think that is what fires our chemistry up on the ice."

In just four years, Juha and his classmates have created something magical.

"We have improved so much, so quickly," Juha said. "I think we have a better culture every year and I don't see that changing. With the culture and caliber of recruits improving, I see national championships in the future."

This program and culture have left an everlasting impact on Juha as a person and a player. Juha credits the program to teaching him how to find enjoyment in everything he does, even the more difficult things.

"Having this amazing facility and the opportunity to start this program from a humble beginning at Greenberg has showed me how to appreciate what I have in my life so much more," said Juha.

Juha spoke about how thankful he is that Coach Gadowsky brought him here four years ago.

"Penn State is the best University in the world. There are so many opportunities for us to learn and grow as people and players," Juha said. "There are amazing people all around you. Everyone is so proud to be here and to be apart of what we are doing."


Looking back over the last four seasons, Juha's favorite moment lies in a game against Minnesota at home last year. Juha scored the game winner in overtime against the Gophers, who the Nittany Lions were anxious to beat.

"That will be a day I never forget," Juha said.

This team and senior class started from nothing. They, along with the coaching staff, made it their mission to create something great - and they did. These seniors will leave a legacy that will not soon be forgotten in the hallowed halls of Pegula Ice Arena. Ending this chapter in their lives they all look towards what is next, unsure of what is to come.

"When they was recruited, they were getting feedback on how they were going to lose badly for four years," said Gadowsky of the senior class. "They believed in themselves and believed in the program that they were not going to lose the next four years. And to see how far they have come and what they have accomplished, wow."

Each and every one of the eight seniors can move forward with solstice knowing that they helped mold the Penn State hockey program into what it is today.

"I don't think our team really understands how lucky we are. Once you become a senior and realize your days are numbered, it hits you," said Juha.

As said in one of the most famous hockey movies by one of the most legendary coaches, "Great moments are born from great opportunities", and Gadowsky gave these eight seniors that great opportunity. 

Hailing From France, Newest Nittany Lion Off to Quick Start

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11723949.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Men's tennis freshman Constant De La Bassetiere arrived to America from France just 51 days ago. Since then, he has become a teammate and friend, has improved his English and has impressed on the court with a 7-0 record.


De La Bassetiere visited Penn State in September, but it wasn't until he became a student that he saw the real differences between living in America and France.

"The sense of humor, how you talk to people, the relationships between people, it's different," De La Bassetiere said.

And although the game of tennis can be taught in any language, De La Bassetiere said there are differences between playing tennis here and in France.

"The cheering and the spirit [is not the same in France]. The relationship between the players is not the same either, because in France, we don't train everyday together. We just train the day before the match. Here, we are together a lot," De La Bassetiere said. "In France, we don't have coaches. We have a captain who acts like a coach. It's really professional here."

De La Bassetiere picked up a tennis racket for the first time when he was three years old. His father, a rugby player, and mother, a horseback rider, took him to a tennis club where the instructors thought he was four or five because of his tall height. He began to play, and the rest was history.

His mother and father still live in France with his two younger sisters and younger brother. Being almost 4,000 miles away from home isn't easy, but De La Bassetiere said he is able to talk to his family very often.

"I talk to my family everyday on Facetime before going to class. It is a perfect time [to talk to them all] with the time difference," De La Bassetiere said.

But the distance from home isn't the hardest thing for him; it's the language. Throughout his life, he has learned English, but is much more proficient in reading and writing than speaking and listening. 

"The language has been the hardest. Getting used to class in English and exams in English [has been very hard]," De La Bassetiere said. "But everybody is nice, tries to repeat [what they've said] and tries to make me improve my English. Now it's getting better everyday."

Although he's only been on campus for less than two months, he said he already feels included in the tight-knit atmosphere at Penn State.

"It's like a family here. You can talk to everybody. Everybody will say, 'hello, how are you?' Everyone is very nice to me," De La Bassetiere said.

De La Bassetiere and the Nittany Lions are off to an 8-0 start and ranked 21st in the nation this season. They hope to continue their success on the road this weekend against No. 3 Ohio State in their first Big Ten match.

"I'm really excited. I have heard that Ohio State is a really good team to play. There is going to be a big crowd, so that's really fun," De La Bassetiere said.

TJ Sanders: More Than Meets the Eye

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11723466.jpeg By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since his freshman season in 2013, TJ Sanders has become a constant and dominating force at attack for the No. 12 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-0). While Sanders knows how to put points on the board, he also has the ability to connect with teammates and make his worth far more than the numbers show.

"TJ certainly started his career as a finisher, he was extremely productive and extremely successful but I think he's had to adapt a little bit," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "He's adapted more as a ball carrier, and has developed a game as a connector as well, getting the ball to other guys who can finish as well."

As a freshman, Sanders earned CAA Rookie of the Year, All-CAA Second Team and All-CAA Rookie Team honors. He ended his first season with the Nittany Lions with 44 goals and five-assists.

As a sophomore, Sanders scored a point in all but one game during the 2014 campaign, and recorded seven multi-point games on his way to being named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten.

Last season, the Ontario, Canada, native was named a USILA All-America honorable mention and All-Big Ten honorable mention after scoring 29 goals and notching 13 assists in just 14 games.

Now as a senior, the attackman has already scored nine goals in the first three games. Sanders has certainly made an impact on Penn State Lacrosse during the last three years, and doesn't look to let up his momentum any time soon, noting every game is an opportunity to improve from his last performance.


Tambroni noted that Sanders' instinctual abilities to read players, move the ball within the offensive zone, and his ability to adapt on a moments notice has become an essential part of the Nittany Lions' on-field success.

"I think IQ is underrated as an attack man because you're just involved with so many plays, not just in the offensive end but also the transition to offense, understanding the pace of play, and game management," said Tambroni.

During his career, the numbers Sanders has put on the score sheet tell the story of a determined young man who knows how to play the game of lacrosse at a challenging level. However, what the numbers don't show is how Sanders has progressed as both a leader and contributor to the team when not putting up points.

"TJ, to his credit, this year more so than any other years for obvious reasons as a senior has just done a wonderful job of not just being a productive player, but has become a much better game manager, a much better leader, and a wonderful role model," said Tambroni.

Off the field, Sanders may not be as outgoing as some of his teammates, but rather focuses on building relationships with his fellow Nittany Lions that contribute to their team's on-field successes. Sanders noted that they best way he can get other teammates to perform their best, is for him to set that example and to do the best he can, whether at practice or during a game.

"I think of myself as a pretty quiet guy so I may not be the kind of ray-rah leader that a lot of people are," said Sanders. "I like to connect with my teammates on a personal level, kind of talk to them more than yell at them, that kind of style. There's other guys in the room that will get everyone energized and excited so we have a pretty good mix in the locker room."

Sanders explained that although his authority style may deviate from the normal, he has been able to set an example for his fellow teammates just as effectively as the most vocal guys on the team. He explained that sometimes the most important part of being an exemplary leader is just being a good teammate.

"It's really the intangible things," said Sanders. "Being able to work well with your teammates, that makes the biggest difference."

Penn State hosts Villanova on Saturday at 1 p.m.    

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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Being a Division I student-athlete is no easy task. A person has to be dedicated to their sport while making time to maintain their personal grades in the classroom on top of trying to make the most of their limited college career. However, redshirt-freshman Noah Roberson of Penn State men's gymnastic is succeeding in all aspects of being a Division I student-athlete.

 

The Williamsville, N.Y. native is accomplishing his goals both in the gym and in the classroom. In addition to competing for the Blue and White he also is a biomedical engineer major and a member of Schreyer Honors College with a 4.0 GPA.

 

"Noah is a very dedicated person in all aspects of his life," said Head Coach Randy Jepson. "He's extremely hard working and even though he redshirted his first year he's made an incredible amount of progress already."

 

"I have a lot of respect for him as a person. It's not everyday you come across a person who is just that dedicated to both their sport and their academics," Jepson continued.

 

Roberson has become a solid competitor for the Nittany Lions. Currently he competes on the still rings with a career high of 14.700.

 

"Noah is just a bright kid, you tell him something he understands and does the work he needs to get done to improve," said coach Jepson.

 

Roberson is making the most of his time in Happy Valley and explains that the university's academic reputation combined with athletics is what attracted him to Penn State.

 

"My whole life my family taught me how important hard work is," said Roberson. "I think it's really important to be both a good athlete and a good student."

 

Currently Roberson is focusing on prosthetics and is beginning to do research with the kinesiology department to help develop his honors thesis. To compliment his biomedical degree, he also wants to achieve a second degree in mechanical engineering.

 

After college, Roberson wants to get his masters within five years.

 

"It's been a great experience being on the team, being on a strict schedule really motivates me to make sure I get all my school work done on time.

 

Coming from a family of engineers and physical therapist, Roberson has always had big dreams for his future.

 

"I've learned that you need to set priorities to get everything done. I always try and get to bed on time since I don't want to be too tired for practice and can focus while studying," said Roberson.

 

Roberson credits his family and teammates for always motivating him to keep up the hard work ethics.

 

He also explains how his siblings are how he got started in gymnastics when he was a young boy.

 

"My brother and I were doing karate and got bored of that so decided to join my sister in gymnastics when I was a kid," said Roberson. "Eventually I realized how much I loved the sport and the coach saw a lot of potential in me and it just kind of went off from there."

 

Today, Roberson is continuing to prove that his work ethic is going to take him far in both gymnastics and his engineering career.

 

Up next for the Lions is an away meet at Iowa on Saturday, February 27 at 2 p.m.

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Candice Agee to Brianna Banks dish-and-score in the fourth quarter may not have looked like anything special, but to the seniors, it put an exclamation point on their last game at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Agee and Banks led the Lady Lions to an 81-68 win over Iowa (17-12, 7-10 Big Ten) Wednesday on Senior Night, where they, along with three managers, were honored in a pregame ceremony.

The duo made the most of their night, combining for 38 points and eight steals. But it was the layup by Banks in the final minutes that was the most meaningful stat for both of them. 

"I love when we have our interactions and stuff like that because it makes it special for the fans and everything," Agee said in an enthusiastic postgame press conference. "You get a great pass, a great assist or a great rebound and then you get to do a little point to each other and that's awesome."

"I feel like the whole game, we were vibing, so that was just another pass, another point to make this night even better," Banks added.

From start to finish, Agee and Banks were the stars of the show for Penn State (11-17, 6-11 Big Ten). They combined for the first 11 points before another Lady Lion was able to get a basket. And while early foul trouble forced Banks to sit out for chunks at a time, she made the most of the 23 minutes that she played.

"I'm good for at least two charges a game so that's not shocking," joked Banks before getting more serious. "The last one I fouled because I don't like giving up layups and I'm intentional about that, so it wasn't emotions. Learning to be smart with fouls is something that I need to face, but it wasn't emotions, it was just dumb mistakes that I made."

Agee posted 21-points on the night, tying her career-high for the third time. The career outing was something Agee had almost expected of herself, seeing as she always plays her best basketball in front of her dad. And with Rodney Agee having flown in from her home state of California to watch his daughter play at the BJC one final time, Agee knew it was going to be a big night before it even happened.

"There's something about [my parents] being in the crowd that makes me want to go above and beyond and that's what they do for me," Agee said." I keep trying to tell [my dad] he just needs to quit his job and follow me around; I'd be an MVP." 

The center tacked on one block and three steals to her career night, and topped her previous high of six free throws by sinking seven.

"It didn't surprise me at all tonight," said head coach Coquese Washington. "I know that Candice is capable of having big games and she's certainly capable of being a big impact player, so it didn't surprise me that she was able to have the night that she did. I'm really happy for her, that she was able to close out her career with a game like this; it's something she'll remember for the rest of her life."

Despite the victory, both Banks and Agee agreed that it wasn't the best game of basketball that the team had played this season. Citing that they blew a 25-point lead in the third quarter, the team knows that they have to play their best if they want the coveted first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament next week.

"This win is helpful with the rankings, of course, in the Big Ten Tournament," Banks said. "We're constantly talking about playing Thursday and not Wednesday and not playing five games in a row, so this game meant a lot with our rankings in the tournament."

When both seniors were subbed out of the game for good in the final seconds, the Jordan Center gave each a standing ovation. Washington was happy with how the two ended their careers at home, and couldn't have asked for anything more from them.

"They both played the way you hope seniors play in their last home game," Washington said. "The emotion of a senior's final home game, it can go one of two ways; they can have that energy and it can propel them to having a fantastic game like these guys did, or sometimes the emotions can overwhelm you and you're not on your game. So I was really happy to see that both Candice and Bri played really good games."

Overcoming Adversity, Raygoza Returns To Vault

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK - On Saturday, the Nittany Lions gained another gymnast in the vaulting lineup, Chanen Raygoza.  Only competing on vault once since her junior year in high school, Raygoza was ready to get back into the event's lineup.

"Well anytime you recruit someone for a certain role and it takes this long for them to fill that role, it's a great benefit for the team that she is finally able to do one of the events that was maybe the best thing that she did in high school," Penn State head coach Jeff Thompson said.  "She had an amazing vault." 

In Raygoza's junior year of high school, she experienced pain in her ankle that turned out to be bone spurs.  She had to have surgery to have them removed, but they came back again during her senior year.  She then had to have yet another surgery to clean everything up.

Raygoza has been injury-prone for as long as she can remember.  With gymnasts, injuries are extremely common, but for Raygoza, all of her injuries happened to the lower half of her body.  Because of this, she turned to the uneven bars to keep the pressure off of her bottom half.

"I have always loved bars and it is still my favorite event.  I got hurt a lot when I was young with a lot of ankle things and lower body issues," Raygoza said.  "I was always the one doing bars for hours and hours in the gym.  I just got to do it a lot, got better and better at it and it became the one I liked the most."

Some would think that the dismount from the bars would impact the ankle the same way that landing vault does, but it does not.

"For me, it's all about angles that I land.  When I land bars, it's more of like straight down, ankles 90 degrees at the most," Raygoza said.  "Whereas with vault, you have to kind of come in at an angle and your ankles bend a lot more with that.  My ankle doesn't really bend much more than 90 degrees so it makes it kind of hard."

The surface of the landing mat in vault is something that plays a factor to an injured ankle as well as the angle in which a gymnast must stick her landing.

"There's a big step from our training environment where the landing is a little bit softer. It's in the ground, so the top of it is level with the floor and you put your landing mats on top of it," Thompson said.  "It's a little more forgiving if you land short, you don't crunch your ankles as bad.  Going from the softer landing to a competition landing where it's just a mat on top of a basketball court, it's a more sudden stop." 

The California native was originally going to take her talents to University of Georgia, but decided to commit to Penn State during junior year of high school because she loved Penn State's coaches and the team felt like a big family.  However, deciding to come to the Northeast meant dealing with the winter for her first time.

"Last year was really hard for me," Raygoza said.  "I wore a lot of layers and I carried around a corn bag.  I would heat it up in the microwave and it was just like a big bag of hot.  This year has been better and it's been a lot warmer."

Other than the weather, Raygoza has had no issues with going to a school 2,500 miles away from her hometown in Upland, California.   

"There are kids that want to stay close to home and there are kids who don't care where they go as long as they get a great experience.  When she came here, she fell in love with it," Thompson said.  "You can tell if they come here and they are sitting on that couch and they got that look in their eye, this is the right place for them. Then you don't have any concerns no matter how far they are from home." 

Raygoza posted a 9.750 and a 9.800 in her first two times back on vault.  On Monday, she helped Penn State defeat Maryland by putting up a 9.825 on bars and a 9.800 on beam. 

"We knew that it would take her a little bit of time to get her back to the way she was," Thompson said.  "When you have the opportunity to get such a high-level student athlete, not someone that just excels in their sport, but also in the classroom, having to wait a little while for them to contribute fully is worth the wait."


Nittany Lions at the 2016 NFL Combine

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Indianapolis will be a hub of activity throughout the weekend as Lucas Oil Stadium hosts the 2016 NFL Combine.

Penn State will five representatives participating in the combine activities, beginning on Thursday when the school's all-time leading passer, Christian Hackenberg, kicks off the process in Indy. Hackenberg, Austin Johnson, Jordan Lucas, Carl Nassib and Anthony Zettel are all set to participate at this year's NFL Combine.

Approximately 332 players are going to be in attendance at one of the most important steps in the NFL Draft preparation process. The NFL Combine entails measurements, medical examinations, and testing, in addition to on-field timing and skill work. The measurable drills include: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill and shuttle run.

Penn State at the NFL Combine Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 25
Media interviews for quarterbacks - Christian Hackenberg

Friday, Feb. 26
Media interviews for defensive linemen - Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel

Saturday, Feb. 27
Media interviews for defensive backs - Jordan Lucas
On-field workouts for quarterbacks - Christian Hackenberg

Sunday, Feb. 28
On-field workouts for defensive linemen -
Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel

Monday, Feb. 29
On-field workouts for defensive backs - Jordan Lucas



The NFL Network will have wall-to-wall coverage on TV. Additionally, there will be a live stream beginning on Friday at 9 a.m.

NFL Combine Live Stream



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Confidence Remains Key as Lions Look For Third-Straight Win

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Seeking its third consecutive Big Ten win and third straight home victory, the Nittany Lion basketball team returns to the BJC on Thursday to begin its stretch run with a matchup against Nebraska.

Penn State has played seven strong halves of basketball during the past four games, and the Nittany Lions are starting to reap the benefits of consistent play on both ends of the floor. Aside from the final 20 minutes in a setback at Nebraska on Feb. 13, the Lions have marched past Indiana, Iowa and Rutgers to make it three wins in their last four outings.

After a tough schedule in January, the Nittany Lions are playing their best basketball of the season and will look for continued momentum as they head into a stretch of three home games in the last four regular season contests.

"It's the first time we've won two in a row in a long time," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "We broke the pattern of having a great win followed by a tough loss...The punch-back (at Rutgers) is what I was most proud of. They tied it up, and we responded. At Nebraska, we never responded. We responded on Saturday. It was great to see."

The recent surge is not a case of one guy stepping up for the Nittany Lions. The three wins in four outings has been a byproduct of the collective team stepping up with consistent effort, timely plays on defense and much more confidence shooting the basketball on offense.

Brandon Taylor (17.5 ppg last week), Donovon Jack (15.5 ppg last week) and Shep Garner (19.0 ppg last week) have been the offensive catalysts of late. The trio accounted for 52 points per game and shot a combined 53 percent from the field (37-70) in the two wins last week against Iowa and Rutgers.

"We are focused on getting better every day in practice, and it's translated over to wins," said Garner. "Right now, we just want to keep working and focus on how we can win."

Taylor and Garner have been the offensive focal points for the Nittany Lions all season long, but Jack has been red-hot of late and has played with a sense of urgency. Jack set a career-high with 19 points in the victory over No. 4 Iowa. He followed that up with 12 tallies in the win over Rutgers. Jack came into the Iowa game averaging 4.1 points per game. Since the Iowa game, he's averaging 15.5 tallies per contest.

"I've just been feeding off my teammates and focusing on the 'other 95' (percent) like coach always says. I am doing everything hard," said Jack. "I've been doing the little things and trying to feed off of my teammates. I know the end of the road is coming for me (as a senior)."

The Cornhuskers won four-straight Big Ten games in January, but have gone 2-4 during the month of February. Nebraska has been without its second-leading scorer, Shavon Shields, since he took a hard fall in a win over Rutgers on Feb. 6. Shields' status for Thursday's game remains uncertain.

The Huskers scored 38 points and held the Nittany Lions to just 23 in a 70-54 victory over the Blue and White in Lincoln on Feb. 13. Junior guard Andrew White III, who is Nebraska's leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, scored 35 points in the win over Penn State. White is shooting 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point land. Shields is averaging 15.7 tallies per contest and is tied for the team lead in assists with 70 on the season (2.8 per game).

The Nittany Lions are 4-0 in home games against Nebraska and 6-5 overall. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. with television coverage on ESPNU as the Nittany Lions continue to push forward.

"It's the players who have really responded to our coaching, and they have stepped it up," said Chambers. "I'm really proud of the way they have responded."



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VIDEO: Tim Banks 1-on-1 Interview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 20 years of collegiate coaching experience and nine seasons as a defensive coordinator, Tim Banks became Penn State's co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach on Jan. 18.

Banks spent the last four seasons at Illinois working as the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. In the midst of the final push leading up to signing day on Feb. 3, Banks spent the vast majority of his first two weeks on the job recruiting across the region with the rest of the coaching staff to help secure Penn State's third consecutive group of signees ranked in the top 25.

A Detroit native, Banks is thrilled to continue his coaching career in the Big Ten as he gets set for his first spring on the field with the Nittany Lions. GoPSUsports.com spent time with the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in a one-on-one introductory interview. Take a look.





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Take Two at the Big Ten Championships

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11726314.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It is the second week of the Big Ten Championship for the Penn State swimming and diving teams as the men's squad takes its turn traveling to West Lafayette. Last week, the women placed seventh overall in Ann Arbor.

The Nittany Lions had a record-breaking weekend by setting personal bests and creating a new standard relay time. Swimmers Alyson Ackman, Melissa Rodriguez, Katie Rowe and Nikki Price made a highlight performance on Friday, Feb. 19 touching third in the 400-medley relay with a time of 3:15.88. Head coach Tim Murphy said that he was impressed with the way the relay finished.

While he was proud of the team for placing in the top 10, Murphy said that there were some areas that could have been better, and you always want to be at the top.

"In some cases we struggled a little bit, it's part of the equation, it's the last meet of the season," Murphy said. "For majority of the folks on the team, whether they swam well or struggled, they have a lot to be proud."

Coach Murphy said that the men were just as excited to cheer on their teammates back in State College as they would if they were there. With the women setting the tone for the championships, the men were eager and ready to take their turns.

As for who the leaders may be this weekend, Murphy thinks that everyone will have an opportunity to contribute.

"Naturally, the seniors and upperclassmen will play a different role than the underclassmen. But really, everybody is all in," he said. "Everybody has an opportunity to get up, whether it's winning their heat, winning a race, or qualifying for the finals [Wednesday night] everyone is going to have an opportunity to add to the mix. "

Michigan won Big Tens last season for the fifth year, being one of the strongest teams at the Championships.  When asked who the biggest competition will be for the team, Coach is looking at as a clean slate.

"The meet starts off 0-0. For the most part we're up against all of them," he said. "There are certainly some teams that are a little stronger than we are. In this point in time, it doesn't really matter; we just take care of ourselves. Get up and get the performance on the board, and that score will take care of itself."

With the first two days down, several Nittany Lions have already met personal bests and are so far ranked ninth in the competition.

The competition will continue Friday starting at 11 a.m. with the 400-yard IM and is set to finish Saturday.



By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Candice Agee went from freshman to senior in the blink of an eye.  On Wednesday night, she will be playing in her final game at the Bryce Jordan Center in her Penn State career, as the senior prepares to finish the year strong then chase her WNBA dreams.  She and fellow senior Brianna Banks will be the focus of the senior night celebration before the game in the Bryce Jordan Center.

 

Head coach Coquese Washington knows it will be her job to make sure emotions do not get too far away from the basketball court. 

 

"Senior night is always an interesting night because you never know how emotional the impact will or won't be for the seniors.  It'll be interesting to see how Bri and Candice handle the emotions around senior day, and I know they're both excited to play in front of our fans one last time."

Agee said her favorite moment in the Bryce Jordan Center was when her team won the Big Ten regular season championship her sophomore year. Along with the championship, the Pink Zone game and senior night were all part of that night's festivities. 

"My mom, my dad, my brother were there and the crowd did not leave, the crowd stayed there for 30, 40 minutes after the game was over just to see everything and they stayed cheering the whole time.  That was awesome," said Agee.

This year, Agee's father, Rodney Agee, will be in attendance on senior night, and will be with his daughter on the court before the game.  Agee's parents had never missed one of her games up throughout high school, and she started playing basketball when she was four years old.  Agee said whenever her father is in the stands that she always plays better.  She even laughed about how ready her dad was to be part of senior night. 

"He told me he has his outfit picked out and everything," Agee said with a laugh. 

"I'm from California, so they don't get to come out too much, so it means a lot for him to be here.  [He and I] are very close," added Agee.

As for what Agee will do upon graduating, she envisions a future playing professional basketball.

"I plan on entering the draft and then if that doesn't work, I'll go to some camps and see if I can get picked up there.  If that doesn't work out, I'm headed overseas."

Agee says Spain would be the place she would want to play overseas, but if she were able to play in the WNBA, she would like to play for the Los Angeles Sparks, and would like to learn from all-time great, Candace Parker. 

"She's unstoppable, I'd love to play behind her," said Agee.

Washington believes Agee has the skill-set to continue playing, and reminisced about her career wearing Blue and White. 

"Candice is one of the most talented post players I've ever coached and she's got great hands, great footwork, and she has really impacted us," Washington said.  "She got in the record book for blocked shots.  So it's the last time for our fans to see them in the friendly confides of the BJC."

As for the task at hand, Penn State still has an opportunity to gain a higher seed in the Big Ten tournament with a few wins and a few losses by Iowa.  As luck would have it, the Lady Lions face Iowa on Wednesday.  Agee will not let her emotions get in the way of competing against the Hawkeyes.

"[The emotions] will kick in after the game," she said.

For Agee and Banks, it is time for one last postseason push.  To Agee, it seems like it was only yesterday she was a freshman.

"I'm about to graduate.  It really does fly by."

But before nostalgia kicks in, Agee and her team have some work left to do.  

Nittany Lions Capture National Dual Meet Title

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By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a palpable buzz in Rec Hall in anticipation of the top two teams squaring off, top-ranked Penn State continued to roll as they downed the Cowboys of Oklahoma State to capture the first ever NWCA National Dual Championship Series title.

With the main focus from day one being Big Tens and Nationals, it is easy to put a match like this on the backburner and focus on the postseason that's just two short weeks away. For Sanderson, the match was big for two reasons. Winning every match is always the goal, but even more importantly, the sixth-year coach believes his guys are wrestling at their best.

"This is a big deal to us. We want to win the dual championship, but it's more about getting ready as we are moving forward getting into Big Tens and Nationals," said Sanderson. "I think our guys are where we want them to be at this point."

Earning the national dual championship is something Sanderson is proud of when you look at the season his team had, going undefeated in the dual meet schedule for the first time since 1972. The 9-0 Big Ten record is also the second time in Penn State history that the team has not lost or tied a conference match.

"I think these guys had such a great year dual meet wise, dual meet after dual meet," said Sanderson. "You want to go out there and finish strong and if you don't finish strong, I think that's no fun, but they did a good job. I think they have to be happy moving forward."

The coaching staff was confident coming into the season of the talent that was on this roster. Receiving a boost with the return of Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford along with the success from a couple of freshmen were the biggest keys to the unblemished record. The biggest takeaway in going undefeated for the first time in Sanderson's tenure was that the team kept grinding towards the end of the season when the schedule ramped up.

"I think we were confident with the team we had coming in. It seems like the last eight weeks, it was just tough team, tough team, tough team," said Sanderson. "It takes a lot of strength and character to continue to step up and wrestle well and not have a bad match here or a bad match there, so that's a real testament to these guys up here and the rest of the team."

Bonus points, just as they have all season long, played another big role in helping the Nittany Lions notch their 16th victory of the season. Tallying three pins on the afternoon allowed the Blue and White to make up for the fact that they allowed a technical fall as well as giving up six points due to an injury default.

"I think pins are huge in a big dual meet like that. Bonus points are huge, but more than that, I always say it's more about the attitude," said Sanderson. "If you are wrestling with some fire in your bones, bonus points will come and I think our guys are wrestling with some fire and they enjoy what they are doing out there and the result is going to be bonus points."

Starting off the bout for the very last time at Rec Hall was Nico Megaludis, who was able to close out his wrestling career at Rec Hall the same way he started it five years ago.

"I mean I don't like to show emotion, but I guess I did a little bit. It was my last match and it's pretty cool," said Megaludis. "I haven't been the biggest pinner in the world, and my first match here, it was against Bloomsburg my freshman year, I pinned the kid and then go out like this, that's kind of special."

The pin was just the redshirt senior's 17th career fall and his sixth in dual meets at Rec Hall. The pin came at such a rare time, it caught teammate Jordan Conaway off guard, who was forced to rush to get ready to wrestle.

"I was getting ready, but still had my clothes on and everything and everyone was going nuts and [Nico] somehow pinned him, so I had to hurry up and get ready to go," said Conaway.

Like all new events, there are always things that can be changed and ideas to make the championship the best it can be. Sanderson likes the idea of a dual championship meet and thinks the format of just one match compared to a tournament is better because it isn't as taxing on the grapplers by the time the postseason comes around. One thing this dual series does do is that it allows teams that don't usually matchup to get a chance to wrestle each other, which provides the extra excitement for the fans.

For Morgan McIntosh, it was special to be able to win the first ever dual meet national championship at Rec Hall in front of the Nittany Lion faithful, but the senior, like the rest of the team, realizes that this was not the ultimate goal and still have their eyes set on the big prize.

"It's exciting, but nothing like winning a team national title," said McIntosh. "It's exciting and we are happy and we are wrestled hard today and we wrestled to win and we are happy to get that win, but I think it doesn't really compare to the team tournament."


VIDEO: Wrestling Highlights and Interviews vs. Oklahoma State (2/20/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind three pins, the top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (16-0, 9-0 Big Ten) won the NWCA Dual Championship series title with a 29-18 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State (13-3) inside sold out Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions claimed victories in six of the 10 bouts, including four wins featuring bonus points. Penn State tallied three pins - Nico Megaludis, Jason Nolf and Morgan McIntosh, and one technical fall - Bo Nickal en route to the dual national title.

With the dual season now complete, the Nittany Lions scored an undefeated season (no losses and no ties) for the first time since the 1971-72 season. Now, the team shifts focus towards the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City (March 5-6). Take a look at highlights from Sunday's win and hear from the Nittany Lions in the post-match press conference.





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Penn State Athletics THON 2016 Coverage

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IMG_9032.JPGUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.

THON's 708 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON. THON revealed a fundraising total of more than $9.7 million for 2016 with 96 percent of THON's all-time funds being donated directly to Four Diamonds. 

Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were active participants in THON, and led run several fund-raising activities once again this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family and a lip sync competition. In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.


Four Penn State student-athletes are represented SAAB as dancers in THON 2016: Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) of women's soccer, Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) from football.

"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my platform as best I could."

Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and from Penn State cheerleading Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle, Kylie Tobasco and Mike White danced in THON.

Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily Hesidence and Kate Brandell were also among the dancers at THON, as well.


Check out the GoPSUsports.com extensive coverage from THON 2016 weekend.


Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2016 Begins
The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

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Saturday - 9:30 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews
With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2016, GoPSUsports.com spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Liisi Vink-Lainas  and Angela Widlacki of women's soccer, Emily Rivers, from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato from football. Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the group is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2016 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.



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Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event
Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Football THON Explorers Event



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Saturday - 6 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the IM during athlete hour on Saturday.  Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event.

Athlete Hour Photo Gallery



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Saturday - 11 p.m. - Football Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2016 version of the dance-off.

The pep rally included a speech from former Nittany Lion football great Devon Still and his daughter Leah.

As for the dance competition, the football team claimed top honors in the men's side of the action, while the reigning national champion women's soccer team took top honors on the women's side. The two teams then battled in a dance off, with the football team earning the bragging rights as the 2016 THON Pep Rally dancing champion.

We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

THON 2016 Pep Rally Photo Gallery



9185732.jpegTHON 2016 Pep Rally Full Dances
Football (Men's & Overall Champion) 
Women's Soccer (Women's Champion)
Men's Fencing
Men's Golf
Men's Gymnastics
Men's Hockey
Men's Rugby
Men's Soccer
Men's Tennis
Men's Volleyball
Field Hockey
Women's Golf
Women's Gymnastics
Women's Hockey
Women's Rugby
Women's Volleyball

Sunday - 11:30 a.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2016
Head coach James Franklin took the stage of THON 2016 on Sunday morning to urge the dancers on in the final hours of the 46-hour dance marathon.  Franklin's message epitomized what THON's mission has been since it started in 1977.

"This is special. What you guys do is what Penn State is ultimately all about," said Coach Franklin.

Take a look at his full remarks.

James Franklin at THON 2016 Photo Gallery



4:14 p.m. - THON 2016 Raises $9.7 Million
For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $9.7 million. The grand total for THON in 2016 was  $9,770,332.32 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2016.  Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall prior to Penn State wrestling's bout against Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lion faithful in Rec Hall let out a big cheer as the total was unveiled.

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GoPSUTony

Lions Ready To Get Back On The Road

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11713376.jpegBy Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK - The Nittany Lions placed third in a quad meet against No. 4 Alabama, No. 13 Denver and Cornell at Rec Hall Saturday afternoon.

Alabama took home the victory scoring 197.300 followed by a Denver score of 196.350. The Nittany Lions totaled 195.100 and Cornell placed fourth with a 191.000.

Penn State got off to a solid start on vault, posting a 48.950. Briannah Tsang led the Nittany Lions with a 9.850 followed by a 9.825 by Kiera Brown. New to the Penn State vault lineup for this season, Chanen Raygoza posted a 9.750.

"We are excited we had Chanen Raygoza in the vault lineup this week because she's such a great vaulter. She had a couple ankle surgeries in high school. It's just now in her sophomore year where she can land on a matt and it not hurt," Penn State head coach Jeff Thompson said. "We warmed her up last week but she just wasn't ready. So for her to go this week and have a great vault, it's great for us. It's going to help us down the road."

The Nittany Lions matched their vault score in the second rotation on the uneven bars. After an uncharacteristic fall by Raygoza, Sabrina Garcia clutched a 9.850 performance followed by a stellar 9.875 by Brown.

"We went to bars and our first two bar routines didn't do what they do in the gym," Thompson said. "I really felt like Sabrina Garcia with hitting her routine like she does in practice and sticking her dismount really got us back on track."

Mason Hosek, fresh off of a 9.900 balance beam routine last weekend against Ohio State, led the Nittany Lions with a slight stumble on the beam during her leap series. The Nittany Lions bounced back after the early fall to post a total score of 48.850.

"When I talked to Mason afterwards, she was like 'Yeah, I did my leaps and then I was on the ground, I don't know what happened.' That's a focus issue," Thompson said. "But it felt like they fought really hard on beam and for them to not fall after Mason led off with a fall, it shows a lot of heart and shows they are really growing up fast."

The Nittany Lions' beam anchor, Nicole Medvitz, nailed a 9.900 on her routine and took home the beam title. Brown also tallied a 9.850.

"It's a privilege to be the anchor and it's nice to know that all my team is confident in me and I was able to do well," Medvitz said. "We've been working really hard in the gym so my routines have been really consistent and I've been sticking a lot of dismounts in the gym so that gave me confidence and I just went out there and did what I always do every day."

Two early falls in the fourth rotation on the floor exercise made it challenging for the Nittany Lions to bounce back. Brown and Oni Timothy solidified 9.850s.

"The mistakes on floor, I have no words to explain what happened," Thompson said. "Again, when you fall on the very last thing you do in your routine, it looks like a lack of focus. I think it's the 'Yeah I made it! Oh wait, no I didn't, oops.'"

Despite a third place finish, Penn State's Brown achieved a career-best all-around score of 39.400.

"There's no different mindset with a quad meet. I think I enjoy it better because it moves faster. Sort of feels like having guys here for a dual meet," Brown said. "I think I felt better on floor today, I was much more confident because I have been really working hard in the gym."

With her score, Brown secured third place in the all-around category in Saturday's meet.

"We knew when she came here that she could be a great all-arounder. After the meet was over I asked her, 'Did you know you were going to have a great night?' and she said 'Yeah'. And when you know you're going to hit your routines, then gymnastics is fun," Thompson said. "I'm excited for her and her leading by example is going to help the younger girls get to that point."

The Nittany Lions will travel to College Park to take on Maryland at 7 p.m. on Monday.

"We only have one more home meet. We struggled at home in all four home meets and we've been doing great on the road," Thompson said. "So we have three road meets coming up, a chance for us to get some great performances in, get some really good scores and move up in the rankings."

Nittany Lions Take Both Weekend Matches

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11713283.jpegBy Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The weekend didn't start as planned for the No. 7 Nittany Lions men's volleyball (10-2, 5-0 EIVA), but the team overcame early adversity to close out the weekend with victories over NJIT and Princeton.

Penn State showed perseverance by battling from behind on Friday after dropping its first set to NJIT 25-21 in Rec Hall. Head coach Mark Pavlik's unit clawed back from a one-set deficit by taking the following three sets 25-21, 25-20, and 25-22.

On Saturday, Penn State fed off of the high energy within Rec Hall's South Gym to sweep Princeton (2-7, 2-2) in straight sets (25-20, 25-20, 25-20).

"In South (Gym), they (the fans) fill the stands and one big play happens and everyone is just ignited
," said redshirt-junior Matt Callaway.


Energy from the crowd and team sparked Callaway, who was game-changing on Penn State's lengthy front line. Six of Penn State's 15.5 blocks came from the 6-foot-7-inch middle hitter. The presence of the front line also caused the Tigers to commit 23 hitting errors.

Junior Chris Nugent and redshirt sophomore Aidan Albrecht led Penn State with double-digit kills, 12 and 10 respectively. Five hard earned digs from redshirt-freshman Royce Clemens and 33 assists from redshirt-senior Taylor Hammond set the Nittany Lion offense up for kills.

The Nittany Lions made defensive adjustments against tipping in the Princeton match. Instead of points being scored off of the tips on Penn State, the Nittany Lions took advantage of tips to score them on the other side of the net.

"I thought our offense took very good swings, we just kept coming at them. I think our defense was very physical and they tried to off-speed us early just like NJIT tried to do on Friday. I don't think there was a tip that fell," said Pavlik.


During Friday's match, NJIT (0-9, 0-1) played at a higher level than their record showed and Penn State knew that they would be in for a challenge when they were scouting them.

"Tonight was a fight that I expected coming in," said Pavlik.


The outside hitter Nugent recorded a team-leading 18 kills against the Highlanders. Hammond, the setter recorded a match-high 55 assists and the libero Clemens dug out a match-high 11 balls.

The Highlanders used tipping instead of a bunch of full swings deceive the Nittany Lions. NJIT was led by Jabarry Goodridge, who is a member of the Barbados National team and TJ Jurko, one of the better players in the EIVA. Goodridge and Jurko each had 16 kills. NJIT's Luke Robbe also hit at a remarkable .909 clip.

"I thought both teams played well in bits and spurts but it seemed like he who streaked last won. When you get into matches like that it's even more important to take care of the ball on your side of the net. I think late in games we did a good job of not giving them the easy points," said Pavlik.

Penn State is back in action next weekend, continuing an 11-game home stand. The Nittany Lions host Charleston (W.V.) Friday and George Mason Saturday with each game starting at 7 p.m.

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Brannon Kidder earned an opportunity to compete in the distinguished Millrose Games at The Armory in New York this Saturday as the rest of the Penn State track and field program competed at home in the Penn State Tune-Up.

 

The Lancaster, Ohio native ran against some of the finest 800-meter athletes in the world. In the 800-meter event, Kidder rallied from the middle of the pack and continued to move forward in the field. During the last lap, Kidder caught up to the leader Duane Solomon as they ran side-by-side to the finish line. Solomon, a 2012 Olympian edged out Kidder at the line by a smidgen of .07 seconds.

 

Second-place is never fun in any sport but Kidder was pleased with his performance. 

 

"Today was just about having fun and trying to compete. I competed but I couldn't quite get him. Overall good day though," said a cheerful Kidder after the race.

 

Kidder was joined in New York by head coach John Gondak. "It was a great effort and exactly what we were looking for; it was a great experience for him," said Gondak.

 

An experience like the Millrose Games for Kidder can be pivotal towards coming out on top in the all-important meets in the coming weeks. While Kidder competed at the Millrose Games, the rest of his Nittany Lion teammates were finishing up the Penn State Tune-Up meet at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

 

Ten Penn State athletes took first-place finishes on the day across all event areas. In a fast field of 600-meter Penn State competitors, freshman Isaiah Harris (Lewiston, Maine) set a personal with a time of 1:17.50. His time was good for fourth-best in the country as of Saturday.

 

Another personal record went down as sophomore Obeng Marfo (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) took the victory in the women's shot put. Marfo threw 52'-1.75" (15.89m) to clinch the win. Senior Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, PA) sat out of the shot put event in order to rest up for the Big Ten Championships but did earn first-place in the weight throw with a toss of 67'-3.25" (20.50m).

 

In the men's shot put event, junior Jon Yohman (New Wilmington, Pa.) bested his competition by over seven feet with a throw of 56'-8.75" (17.29m).

 

In the field events, junior Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.) dominated the pole vault event once again. Masterson cleared 13'-5.25" (4.10m) while junior Dannielle Gibson (Nassau, Bahamas) led a Nittany Lion contingent to win the women's long jump with a leap of 19'-4.75" (5.91m).

 

In the sprinting competition, freshman Lauren Costa (North Fayette Township, Pa.) recorded the fastest 60-meter time of 7.68 seconds. She missed her personal best by .01 seconds which she set in last weekend's Fastrack National Invite.

 

The Nittany Lions also found success in the long distance races. More personal records were broken by the two freshmen in Frances Bull (Mentor, Ohio) and Colin Abert (Easton, Pa.). Bull ran 1:32.75 in a women's 600-meter victory. Abert won the men's mile title with a 4:03.92 time.

 

In the longest race of the afternoon, graduate student John Dugan (Ramsey, N.J.) won the 5,000-meters. He completed the 25 lap race in a time of 15:07.13.

The indoor regular season slate came to an end this weekend. Penn State will compete next in the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Genera, Ohio starting Friday and wrapping up Sunday.

 

For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

Nittany Lions Earn Big Win on the Road at Cornell

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11712767.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
ITHACA, NY. - For the third time in as many weeks, the No. 20 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-0) came out with a big win over the weekend. The Nittany Lions took down No. 18 Cornell (0-1) in an 8-7 nail-biting victory at Schoellkopf Field.

Cornell got on the board within the first few seconds of the first quarter, and quickly scored a second goal minutes later. However, the Nittany Lions answered with two goals of their own, from junior midfielder Mike Sutton and redshirt junior midfielder Matt Florence.

It was a constant game of cat-and-mouse as the Nittany Lions and Big Red kept pace with each other for the first half of the game, ending the first half with Cornell leading 3-2.

"I believed in our guys coming out at halftime," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "I knew that if we just settled down, played with a little bit more motion and been more selective in our shots we were going to have success. It was just a matter of could we get there."

Determined to return to Happy Valley victorious, the Nittany Lions came out in the third quarter relentlessly taking shots on net, and scoring five unanswered goals, including back-to-back goals from senior attack man TJ Sanders. At the other end of the field, the Nittany Lions defense held off the Big Red and kept them to just three shots in the third.

Starting off the fourth quarter leading 7-3, the Nittany Lions still were not in the clear. Cornell, determined to not give up a home loss, came back to score four goals, tying the game at 7 apiece.

Tensions were high as both teams fought for possession and just one more goal to edge the opposing team.

With less than four minutes left in the fourth, Florence found the back of the net to give the Nittany Lions the go-ahead. Unassisted, it was Florence's second goal of the game and seventh of the season.

"Thankfully through some transitional opportunities we started to open the door up a little bit and I think we just did enough in the second half to come away with a victory," said Tambroni.

Returning to Cornell for Tambroni, who was the head coach of the Big Red from 2001-10 was an emotional experience, but knowing this was a business trip for his Lions made his return very focused on the task at hand.


Although it was good to see past friends, fellow coaches and players of his, Tambroni was proud Penn State came away with a victory over one of the "blue bloods" of the lacrosse world.

"It was great to be here, I was thankful we were able to schedule a game not just in Ithaca, but against a premier program like Cornell," said Tambroni. "I think it's great for our program, I think it's great for our guys to see this kind of competition, so we were thankful and grateful that we were able to have this opportunity."

This Nittany Lions return home this Saturday as they face Villanova at 1 p.m.

McAdam Shines, Lions Keep Buckeyes on Their Toes

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11712784.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Thanks to tremendous goaltending by junior Eamon McAdam on Friday, and a mid-game attempted comeback on Saturday, the No. 15 Penn State men's hockey team (19-9-4, 9-6-1-1 Big Ten) split its final home series against Ohio State (9-17-2, 4-8-2 Big Ten).

During Friday night's 6-1 takedown of the Buckeyes, McAdam made 33 saves on the way to improving his record to 11-4-1 this season.

McAdam was a stable force in net during all 60 minutes of play, making several big saves that could have otherwise brought the Buckeyes within several goals of the lead.

"I thought that was a really big part of the game," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of McAdam's performance. "It's often that timely goaltending is really important, and I really thought that we came out really well but then [Ohio State] actually took it to us and Eamon was awesome and made huge saves."

Gadowsky pointed out that often when a team puts up six goals in one game the goaltender isn't thought of as being the reason a team wins. Instead, fans usually look toward the offensive performance of the night. However, Gadowsky credited McAdam with being an integral part of the Nittany Lions' win on Friday.

Gadowsky also pointed out that due to injuries, several players had to step out of their comfort zone and play more ice time than usual, or even a different position. Gadowsky noted having freshman forward Matt Mendelson playing at center, which he's not used to, really helped the Nittany Lions be able to put four full lines out on the ice.

During Saturday's contest, Ohio State got on the board with three quick goals in the first period. However, the Nittany Lions started to mount a comeback attempt as the clock was winding down in the first period as freshman forward Chase Berger found the back of the net.

Following in the second period, the Nittany Lions tied it up thanks to goals from freshman forward Andrew Sturtz and junior forward David Goodwin.

Freshman defenseman Kevin Kerr gave the Nittany Lions the only lead of the night when he got a pass from Goodwin and went top-shelf on Ohio State's goaltender Matt Tomkins to start the third period. However, the lead was short-lived and the Buckeyes scored four unanswered goals, including an empty netter to win 7-4.

In Friday night's performance, Kerr had five shots on net and ended the night with a plus-3 rating. Gadowsky praised Kerr's performance, and noted how Kerr is often overlooked but has become an integral part of the Nittany Lions' defense.

"I think it's pretty amazing when you lose 7-4 and in our eyes the best player on the ice pretty clearly was Kevin Kerr," said Gadowsky. "Right from the very first shift, the breakout in the zone to the end, he's been great."

Lastly, Gadowsky praised the support the team has had at home this whole campaign. Notably, with THON happening across the street at the Bryce Jordan Center, to still have two sold out games and a packed Roar Zone both nights is something that Gadowsky certainly recognizes as a vital support system to have.

"That was very surprising, a phenomenal atmosphere," said Gadowsky of all the students who showed up on such a busy weekend. "The students, when you talk about the seniors and what they'll remember, the seniors they're going to remember [the Roar Zone]. They've been so motivating, and they've been a huge part of all the success we've had."

VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Women's Volleyball

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Field Hockey

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Women's Golf

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Women's Hockey

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Women's Gymnastics

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Hockey

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Gymnastics

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Tennis

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Fencing

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Volleyball

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Golf

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Soccer

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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Women's Soccer

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The national champion Nittany Lion women's soccer team earned the women's team title at the THON 2016 pep rally inside a packed Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night. Take a look at the team's winning dance.

VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Football

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night, the Nittany Lion football team claimed top honors in the annual THON dance competition featuring Penn State teams. The Lions earned a victory in the men's side of the action before ousting the women's soccer squad in a dance-off. Take a look at the team's winning dance.

VIDEO: Nittany Lions Host 2016 THON Explorers Event

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Football THON Explorers Event

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.


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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

 

Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State (2/20/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage from the 2015-16 Nittany Lion men's hockey season. No. 15 Penn State closes out the home portion of its schedule with a matchup against Ohio State.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State (2/20/15)
 

Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State (2/19/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage from the 2015-16 Nittany Lion men's hockey season. No. 15 Penn State opens its final home series of the season against Ohio State on Friday.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State (2/19/15)
 

Hefty Freshman Class Expected to Contribute Right Away

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11704248.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2016 freshman class makes up 11 of the 32 roster spots for Penn State this season. That's four more than the next largest class and 34 percent of the entire team.

As much as the young roster forecasts a bright future for the program, there will be hardly any transition period for the newly acquired troops. A large majority will not only be expected to see some time and feel out the college game this year, but to contribute to the team's success right from the jump.

Some of that is on the freshmen themselves, but a big part of their ability to step in and add value to the team immediately depends on how well the experienced leaders aid them in their changeover from high school.

"Upperclassman guys like Jack (Anderson) and Jimmy (Haley) here and others, Tyler Kendall and James Coates, have done a great job of bringing those guys into the fold and understanding that," head coach Rob Cooper said. "I've been a part of teams and been at places where the upperclassmen haven't done a good job of that. These guys have done a really good job."

"I've been doing my best to try to help them progress," said junior infielder Jim Haley. "The biggest thing is making the transition from high school to college, not so much baseball, but just the whole school process, so I've tried to mentor them. They've come a long way, and they've all had a pretty good fall, so I'm excited to see what they will do this season."

It's yet to be seen who will emerge as an instant asset to the team and when, but there are a bevy of names that have impressed so far in preseason. Three freshmen - Jordan Bowersox, Conlin Hughes and Connor Klemann - were on Penn State's opening day lineup card on Friday. Get to know some of the freshman class.

Conlin Hughes, Infielder- Hughes is a middle infielder from Holly Springs, N.C. For Holly Springs High School, Hughes achieved all-conference honors in three straight years and capped off his career with a .422 batting average in his senior season.

Hughes made the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer All-Star Game in 2013 and 2014 and played in the 2014 Powerade State Game for North Carolina.

During the Blue and White's recent trip to Cubs, Hughes recorded a single, an RBI and a .455 on-base percentage in seven at-bats.

Austin Riggins, Outfielder- Riggins is a game-changing athlete from Greer, S.C. who can cover a ton of ground in centerfield. He showed his athleticism and speed in Cuba while adding two hits and scoring a run.

With the departure of last season's leading hitter Aaron Novak, there is a hole to be filled in the outfield for PSU. It's been a competitive battle so far in the offseason, but Riggins has a great opportunity to get time even if he doesn't win the starting job.

In high school, Riggins was tabbed an all-region outfielder in 2014 and 2015. He also was named to 2015 USA Today All-State team and was ranked as a top-five outfielder in South Carolina by Perfect Game.

Eric Mock, Pitcher- Mock was a highly rated prospect coming out of Governor Mifflin High School. He was ranked as the No. 3 right-handed pitcher in Pennsylvania by Perfect Game and a top 500 player nationally.

In his final two years in high school, Mock recorded 119 strikeouts in 70 innings pitches. He logged an undefeated record in his senior season and was named County Player of the Year.

Keath Leavitt, Outfielder- Leavitt will bring some much needed power to a lineup that produced just 16 homeruns last season. At St. John's Prep in Manchester, Mass. Leavitt belted 19 homers in four years.

Leavitt received a plethora of honors while in high school, including USA Today All-Massachusetts first team in 2014 and 2015. He batted .423 as a senior.

In Cuba, Leavitt went 2-2 with a run scored in Penn State's game against Matanzas.

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State track and field program is back in action at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track this Saturday in the Penn State Tune-Up after last weekend's road competitions.

 

The Penn State Tune-Up marks the last meet before the Big Ten Indoor Championships next weekend and it's the last home meet of the indoor season. It's the last opportunity for Nittany Lion athletes to supplant themselves into the postseason with top performances and a chance to build confidence before the Big Ten and NCAA Indoor Championships.

 

"When you look at the performances that we've been this year as a program so far I'm very pleased our programs are rounding out well with all event areas, sprinters, jumpers, throwers, middle distance runners, and distance runners all having a phenomenal season so far, so I'm excited for the Big Ten Indoor Championships," said head coach John Gondak at spring sports media day.

 

With the postseason nearing, some of the top Penn State athletes will get a well-needed rest in order to prepare for the Big Ten Championships after having five meets in six weeks. Saturday is a chance for younger members of the team to show what they can do in competition.

 

Saturday's meet gets underway with the women's shot put starting at noon and the meet concludes with the women's 4x400-meter relay event.

 

The Nittany Lions will compete against athletes from Georgetown, West Virginia, Connecticut, Elon, Coppin State, Susquehanna, Messiah, Lebanon Valley, Dickinson, and Monroe College.

 

As for last weekend's results, several Penn State distance runners competed in the Husky Classic at the University of Washington. Redshirt-freshman Tessa Barrett (Waverly, Pa.) broke the 31-year-old school record in the 5,000-meters with a time of 15:46.08 in that meet. Barrett's time sits at seventh-best in the country and second among freshmen. Her record-breaking performance marked the seventh time a Penn State record has been broken this season.

 

Barrett's distance running teammate, senior Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) ran a personal best in the 3,000-meters with a time of 9:13.65 in the same meet.

 

The majority of the Nittany Lions competed in the Fastrack National Invite at the new Ocean Breeze indoor track in Staten Island, New York. Penn State was victorious in five events with wins in on the track, on the field, and in the throws last Saturday. Senior Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) continued her hot throwing to take two events for the Nittany Lions. Fatherly won the shot put with her best throw of 16.62m (54'-6.50") and won the weight throw with a season best toss of 20.42m (67'-0").

 

School recorder holder Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.) claimed the pole vault title. The junior's clearance of 4.20m (13'-9.50") earned herself the win for the second straight week.

 

Also in the field events, freshman Madeline Holmberg (Greensburg, Pa.) won the long jump with a season-best leap of 5.91m (19'-4.75").

 

On the track, school record holder Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) won the 60-meters final with a time of 6.80 seconds.

 

For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

Lions Set to Host Oklahoma State For Dual Championship

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11703891.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Oklahoma State will square off this Sunday to determine who is the best dual meet team in the country in the first-ever NWCA Dual Meet Championship Series.

The first dual meet series pits the top eight Big Ten teams against the eight highest ranked conference winners. The winner of Sunday's dual match will be deemed as the 2016 NWCA Dual Meet Champion, as the Nittany Lions and the Cowboys are the highest ranked teams.


For the 21st time, the Nittany Lions and Cowboys will meet on the mat. While Oklahoma State owns a 13-6-1 edge in the series, the two have split the last two meetings, with Oklahoma State winning a tight match last season 21-18. Being unsure of who head coach Cael Sanderson's squad would be wrestling until Monday, Sanderson knew that whoever the opponent was, the team had to wrestle their best they have all season.

"They are all great times whether it's Oklahoma State or North Carolina State or Missouri," said Sanderson. "They are all great teams and we have to wrestle and be at our best regardless of who it is."

Having a chance to avenge their loss from last season, Sanderson is excited for this opportunity and is also thankful to be in this position where his team has a chance to be named the best dual team in the country.

"Oklahoma State has a great team. We wrestled them the last two years and we split with them. It's a very good team," said Sanderson. "We are excited for the opportunity obviously and grateful for the opportunity. Our guys really had a great year and they earned the opportunity to wrestle in the national championship dual, so that's the first of its kind so that's exciting and something that we are looking forward too."

Having a postseason dual like this has also brought up many other discussion questions, including the one of having a Big Ten dual championship. Splitting the regular season Big Ten championship with Iowa, the talk of having a regular season championship has been thrown around. Sanderson believes wrestling should model the conference split like football does, with an east and west division and having the winner of each wrestle for the title of Big Ten dual champion.

"Obviously, we need to a legitimate Big Ten champion and I don't think anybody wants to share a championship, but it's easier said than done," said Sanderson. "We meet every year and we talk about the same things every year as the coaches in the Big Ten."

The biggest risk in doing this is just extending what is an already long season. With wrestling being a different sport than football in regards to wrestlers trying to manage their weight, Sanderson believes this idea is easier said than done.

"The season is already long enough and when you start adding more and more dates, that's kind of the issue. You don't want a championship season to be two months long either," said Sanderson. "You don't want a Big Ten championship, then the dual championship, then the other Big Ten championship, at least that's my opinion. It's easier said than done when you're just adding more and more competitions."

Another tricky situation about having the dual championship is how close the match falls to Big Tens and Nationals. It is tough to move it up earlier because then you start to eliminate non-conference matches in November and December, which is something that Sanderson does not want to give up as his teams have wrestled some of the best teams outside of the Big Ten in the country. While the goal is to win the dual meet championship this weekend, Sanderson also has his sights set on the overall goal of the program, which is to be wrestling their best at Big Tens and Nationals.

"The main goal is a Big Ten championship for us and the national championship," said Sanderson. "This week is a real tough training week for us and next week is a real tough training week for us as we are getting ready for the Big Ten's and Nationals, but we want to be at our best and we want to finish this season strong with the dual meet championship and we have an excellent team coming in that's hungry and wants the same thing we want."

Oklahoma State enters Sunday with nine potential wrestlers ranked in the top 20. The Cowboys have two grapplers ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes, led by two-time national champion Alex Dieringer at 165 and All-American Dean Heil at 141. With the rotation of Shakur Rasheed and Geno Morelli at 165, Sanderson has a big decision to make not just for Sunday, but for the rest of the season as well. 

"Dieringer is pretty good and two-time national champion, so it's a challenge for anybody that wrestles him," said Sanderson. "We are still playing with that weight class, but we are getting close, but it could be something we decide a week before the conference meet."

The biggest key for the Nittany Lions is confidence. Sanderson preaches to his team that you have to build confidence first before anything else and if you wait for confidence to come to you, you will get in trouble on the mat. If his team can go out and wrestle with confidence throughout the postseason, the sixth year coach is confident in the results that should come.

"Well if you go out and wrestle and do what you do everyday, it can build your confidence," said Sanderson. "You don't have to wait for everything to clear out and you just do what you know is right, and confidence comes. My encouragement would be just do what you know is right, do the right thing, wrestle the way you know and hustle and attitude and effort and confidence comes after that." 

Lions Looking to Remain Consistent at Rutgers

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Riding the wave of momentum following a thrilling 79-75 win over No. 4 Iowa, the Nittany Lion basketball team (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten) travels to Rutgers (6-20, 0-13 Big Ten) seeking its third Big Ten win in its last four outings.

Penn State's efforts against Iowa were preceded by three outstanding days of practice. Head coach Patrick Chambers said that the attitude, effort and shot-making ability were a carbon copy of the team's performance in the practice gym.

Now that the Lions have illustrated an ability to compete with the top teams in the Big Ten, Chambers and the team are looking for consistency when the group takes the floor in the RAC for Saturday's 1 p.m. tip against the Scarlet Knights.

"This is a long season. You've got a nice mix of youth and experience, so you are going to have some games (where you are inconsistent)," said Chambers. "I'm just looking for a good, competitive level with real consistency every day at practice."

Senior Brandon Taylor has been the driving force behind Penn State's success throughout the season. Taylor sets the tempo for the team's attitude and effort with his relentless play. The New Jersey native will play in his home state for the final time on Saturday (1 p.m. on ESPNU). Taylor is averaging 16.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season.

Taylor's influence on the team is probably felt most by his confidence. He came into the media room after Wednesday's big win and was immediately looking ahead to the task at hand for Saturday's game against the Scarlet Knights. That has been the team's outlook of how to build on Wednesday's effort.

"For us, the Iowa win was over at midnight (on Wednesday)," said Chambers. "We came back in (on Thursday) and practiced hard. We are just staying focused on trying to get better. That's been my message to them and then work on our consistency. We haven't been consistent. If we can get consistent, we are better."

Road games have not been kind to Penn State's shooting touch during Big Ten play, but the Lions are not going to shy away from good looks at the basket.

"I just keep telling them to play with confidence," Chambers said. "If you have an open shot, shoot it. I'd like to see us to get to the free throw line a little more. When we share the ball, we get really good shots. Good things happen when we move the ball side to side and get into the paint. But if you have open shots, you need to stick them."

Rutgers enters the only regular season meeting between the two teams looking for its first Big Ten win of the season. The Scarlet Knights will be without leading scorer Corey Sanders on Saturday. Outside of Sanders, guard Mike Williams is the long Scarlet Knight averaging double-figures in Big Ten games.

"With or without Sanders, they fight and they compete," said Chambers. "We've been there before. You play with desperation. We have to play 10 to 15 points better on Saturday if we want to come out on top. That's how hard they are going to play in this game."

Penn State owns a 38-30 edge in the all-time series. The two teams split the season series last year, with Rutgers scoring a 50-46 win at the RAC, while the Lions notched a 79-51 win in the BJC.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Goalie is arguably the most important position on a hockey team. For the Penn State Nittany Lions they have had a brick wall in net, in the form of Celine Whitlinger.

Whitlinger is part of the original group of Nittany Lions who have been with the team since it first started playing, four years ago. Whitlinger has steadily climbed her way through the ranks and the last two seasons has been a prominent figure in the net for a Penn State team that has stifled teams defensively. Whitlinger has been, and continues to be, a big part of that team defensive effort.

"We are all growing, individually and as a team," said Whitlinger. "Personally, Courtney [Drennen] has helped a lot with her coaching perspective both on and off the ice." 

Whitlinger hails from Garden Grove, California. She made the long journey to Penn State unsure of what the hockey program would hold, largely because there was still no program at the time she was being recruited, it was still an idea. Now, four years later, that same program and Whitlinger have grown leaps and bounds as they continue to assert themselves in the national spotlight.

When head coach Josh Brandwene recruited Whitlinger, he noticed the first thing that many people notice when they watch Whitlinger between the pipes for the Nittany Lions, how athletic she is, especially moving laterally.

"She has always been an incredibly athletic and thinking goaltender and you could see that in her ability back during her high school days," said Brandwene. "She is just tremendously successful, she always is competing for pucks and is very technically sound. If you put that combination together you are going to be very successful at the college level."

Whitlinger has indeed had success at the college level, but success can only come with growth at the higher levels of competition and growth is certainly something that Whitlinger has shown and exuded in her time at Penn State.

"She has grown tremendously," said Brandwene. "She has gotten better and better in her time here in every aspect of the game and it has helped her really succeed." 

For Whitlinger, she credits a lot of her success to assistant coach Courtney Drennen. 

"I think I have grown a lot," said Whitlinger. "Being a goalie, it is a very mental position and I think that Courtney has helped coach me and I have improved a lot in the mental aspect of the position." 

This season, Whitlinger is poised to set career highs in both goals against average and save percentage. With the playoffs just two games away, Whitlinger has a 1.55 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. In other words, her numbers are remarkable when it comes to goaltending norms. Brandwene attributes this outstanding season to all the hard work that Whitlinger puts in.

"She puts in the hard work," said Brandwene. "She deserves credit for everything that she is doing in puck stopping and she has great support around her. The d-core and the shot blocking forwards have been fantastic and we just continue to get better overall."

For Whitlinger, the senior goaltender does not want the season or her time here at Penn State to end. However, when it inevitably does, she will not only be remembered as one of the pioneers of Penn State hockey, but also as a consistent presence between the pipes for the Nittany Lions. 

"I think she will be remembered most for consistently competing and consistently improving," said Brandwene. 

The Nittany Lions are set to square off against Mercyhurst in a two game road swing to close out the regular season slate. Game one is set for 6 p.m. on Friday and game two for 1 p.m. on Saturday.

 


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By Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Most of the players on the Penn State women's lacrosse team committed to the team when they were only halfway through high school. They had time to acclimate to their recruiting class and get familiar with how to play with each other at the college level.

For junior goalkeeper, Cat Rainone, her experience strayed slightly from the norm. Rainone decided late into her senior year that she wanted to play college lacrosse, so she reached out to Penn State head coach Missy Doherty to see if she could play for the team.

"I committed super late my senior year, so by the time I reached out to Missy, she said that I could be on the team, but with all of the scholarship money already given out there just wasn't any money for me at the time," said Rainone.

"I came in with the freshman recruitment class and got to play during my freshman year. I just didn't sign my letter of intent until my sophomore year when I got my scholarship."

Rainone talked a lot about the struggles she faced coming onto the team so late. She said that it was harder for her to break into the group because the other girls in her recruitment class had already met on multiple occasions and had been playing together in recruitment camps since they were sophomores in high school.

"The girls in my class that had I got recruited with had all known each other since their sophomore years when they first got recruited. They had already established friendships with each other so coming in as a sort of outcast was difficult."

Rainone said with all of the girls used to playing on the field together it was hard on her to feel one with the team.  Three years later Rainone has definitely overcome that barrier into the group, and has meshed well with the team. 

Although getting to know her teammates is no longer a struggle, that does not mean Rainone has not met other struggles while playing with the team.

Playing a college sport is a huge time commitment, and with classes to keep up with every week, Rainone's schedule tends to get pretty full. Rainone is working toward a degree in kinesiology and is working hard to keep a good balance between school and sports. 

"My major is kinesiology, which gets kind of tough when you have to do four-hour labs and you don't have time to do those things because it conflicts with practice," said Rainone.

To stay on top of her work, Rainone says that she has to make sure that almost every single minute of her days are pre-scheduled. She also said she has taken a few classes during her summers to ease up her class schedule during the season.

Despite the struggles she has faced initially coming onto the team and keeping her schedule straight and doable, Rainone still enjoys her time with the team and had many positive things to say about her experience as an athlete. 

"My favorite part of being on the team is definitely traveling and getting to experience new things. My favorite memory overall would also have to be my freshman year when we played Johns Hopkins," said Rainone.

She has come a long way from her freshman year, and is making the most of her experience with the team and as a student at Penn State. It takes a lot to balance all that Rainone does, but she has been making it work, which speaks a lot for the student-athletes of Penn State

Rainone and the rest of the women's lacrosse team will play their first regular season home game this upcoming weekend, Saturday, February 20 at 2 p.m. against Duquesne University.

Penn State Athletics to Play Active Role at THON 2016

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11701300.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics will be heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

THON's 708 dancers will begin standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.


Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $127 million has been raised by THON. THON raised more than $13 million in 2015 with 96 percent of THON's funds being donated directly to Four Diamonds.

Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) are active participants in THON, and have run several fund-raising activities once again this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family, and a lip sync competition. In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.

 

Those wishing to assist in SAAB's fund-raising efforts and help a good cause by donating directly to THON can do so by visiting www.thon.org and selecting SAAB as the organization whose name you'd like to donate under.

Four Penn State student-athletes will represent SAAB as dancers in THON 2016: Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) from women's soccer, Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) from football.

"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my platform as best I could."

Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and from Penn State cheerleading
Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle, Kylie Tobasco and Mike White will be dancing in THON.

Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily Hesidence and Kate Brandell will be among the dancers at THON, as well.

 

In addition to the dancers and several committee members, numerous other student-athletes both attend THON and participate in Student-Athlete Hour and a THON favorite, the Pep Rally, on Saturday. A number of Penn State teams will host families as part of the THON 2016 Explorers Program. The football program will host approximately 30 THON families at the Lasch Building in conjunction with the THON Explorers Program on Saturday afternoon.

 

Check back to www.GoPSUsports.com for additional feature coverage of the Penn State Athletics participation in THON during the weekend.

 

Students from the College of Communications will again produce a webcast of THON, available at www.thon.org/Webcast. More than 150,000 viewers from 50 states and 99 countries watched a portion of the webcast in 2015.

 

For more information about Dance Marathon, please go to www.THON.org.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Women's Gymnastics' Little Nittany Lion

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERISTY PARK - Noah Benner is 11 years old and has already had three brain surgeries in his short life. In 2014, Benner had surgery to remove his third brain tumor. His little sister, Sydney, had to mature quicker than any other 4-year-old to support her older brother.

"Sydney has been amazing through everything with Noah. After Noah was released from the hospital for the third surgery, we were in the car and she grabbed his hand and started to show some tears. She said, 'Noah, I'm so glad you are okay. I was very worried about you and I love you,'" Sydney and Noah's mother, Tiffany Benner, said. "During school they were asked to write their New Year's resolution. She wrote that her resolution is to help her brother fight his brain tumor."

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation heard of the Benner family's story through the Marion-Walker Elementary School's mini-THON. The foundation pairs children with pediatric brain tumors and their siblings with high school and college athletic teams. After the foundation reached out to the Benner family, the Penn State football team adopted Noah and the Penn State women's gymnastics team adopted Sydney.

Sydney started gymnastics when she was three, so she was extremely excited to be paired with the gymnastics team. Once the "adoption" was official, the team invited Sydney to come to a Sunday afternoon practice.

"We met the coaches and the girls at the White Building during one of their practices. We met Rachelle (Thompson) right in the hallway by the gym and she accepted Sydney with open arms," Tiffany Benner said. "We went into the gym during practice and they had balloons, gifts and a cake for Sydney. Then she went down to the locker room and saw her own locker. Inside was a Christmas stocking and leotards. It was amazing."

Since her first meeting with the team, Sydney has attended almost every Penn State home meet and goes to their practices whenever it fits her schedule. During school, it is harder for Sydney to be able to make practices. Winter break is when she is able to spend the most time with the team.

"She's not intimidated at all. The funny thing is, when she comes into the gym for practice, she'll just run across the floor and jump on me for a hug," Penn State head coach Jeff Thompson said. "You just got to get down on one knee and she will just jump on you, wrap her arms around you and squeeze your neck. It's great. She's fearless."

When Penn State has a home meet, Sydney is part of the team. She hangs out in the locker room before the meet and marches out with the team to be announced to the crowd. During the meet, she spends most of her time with teammates Emma Sibson and Tina Postiglione.

"She hangs out with the team and every time we switch rotations she throws t-shirts out with us. She's always cheering and is so much fun," Postiglione said. "Every single time, I make sure she gets lifted up when someone finishes their routine to give high-fives to the girls. So instead of me high-fiving, it's like me and Sydney together as a little team high-fiving the girl."

As much as Penn State has impacted Sydney's life, she has made a difference on this Nittany Lion team.

"We talk to the team about when you come to the gym everyday, remember that little girl that first started gymnastics. Remember the kid that used to bounce on the couch and get yelled at by your parents. Remember the one that would do flips on their bed," Thompson said. "That's the little girl inside you that loves gymnastics and you have to find that little girl every day, especially on the days that its tougher for you. And for them to be able to look at her, even though it may only be once a week, to look at her and say, 'Yeah I remember when I felt like that'. It's a good thing for our team."

Sydney keeps in touch with her Penn State teammates outside of the gymnasium by having her mom Facebook message them or by "snapchatting" the girls from her own Snapchat account. Sydney plans to be with the team as long as they will have her around.

"I want to grow up to be a Penn State gymnast just like them," Sydney said.

Sydney and Noah will be at THON this weekend with their adopted teams and also their THON organization, Lion Scouts.

The Nittany Lions will host Denver, Cornell and Alabama in Rec Hall at 4 p.m. on Saturday.


Consistency, Communication Key Against Cornell

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11701152.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 19 Penn State men's lacrosse team (2-0) travels to No. 15 Cornell (0-0) this Saturday to take on the Big Red, in what is the Nittany Lions' first ranked matchup this season.

The Nittany Lions started off their season with a 20-7 takedown of RMU followed by 17-12 win over Hobart. However, this time around the team is looking for to focus on consistency across the field.

"The first game we started out hot with offense but the second game we didn't start out quite like that," said senior midfielder Tommy O'Neill. "So this third game we want to come out strong and play hard for four quarters."

With several veterans this season on defense, including senior Ryan Guittare and senior James Chakey, the Nittany Lions have worked on developing their defensive strategy, focusing on having every defensive player remain an equal part of the defensive game, rather than favoring a few select players.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni said it's more of a team image, rather than spotlight defense.

"The unit back there is so just predicated on playing with all seven guys, goalie and six included," said Tambroni.

To add to this plan of action, Tambroni looks toward defensive midfielders to become the playmakers, by winning face-offs, controlling possession time, and looking for opportunities at both ends of the field.  

"They're probably playing the most challenging position on the field outside of the goalie," said Tambroni of defensive midfielders. "They're trying to defend people with a stick that's three feet shorter than a defensive stick and they've also adapted a new rule this year of creating more transition, being a little bit more confident transitioning the ball from defense to offense."

Being able to effectively play at both ends of the field is key to the Nittany Lions' game strategy.

However, when it comes down to it, there's one thing that everyone on the team would agree is needed for every position - communication.


Communication is needed on the field, for players to know which play is happening, where they need to be, who is covering whom, and what is coming next.

Off the field, communication is remains important for players entering or exiting the action. Teammates on the sideline also communicate to players on the field to help them know where the opposing team is setting up, or where a ball might have gone out of bounds.

All this communication breaks down into choreographed madness, which includes lots of systematic yelling that might otherwise seem unusual. But it all has a purpose.

"If there's one thing that needs to get better as a team, not just defensively, as a team as it relates to our defensive end, it is communication," said Tambroni. "That is the key to starting to build a foundation for defense because for us it connects their understanding, knowing your job, knowing your defense, and communicating to your teammates."

Tambroni explained that if you lack communication, the team would play less as a unit and more as individuals, which would make for a scrambled style of play.

The Nittany Lions have embraced this communication-focused practice strategy this week and has credited this for helping them effectively prepare for Cornell.

"I definitely think coach challenged the older guys this week, they've really stepped up communication, they've been kind of yelling at us but we honestly need it," said sophomore goaltender Will Schreiner. "They've set the tone and hustle that we look up to."

Although not a focus of this weekend, but definitely a notable point, this matchup between Penn State and Cornell marks Tambroni's first game against his old team. Tambroni coached Cornell from 2001-10 and coached them to three NCAA Final Four appearances, including the 2009 national championship game.

Returning to Ithaca on Saturday, Tambroni looks forward to seeing some familiar faces, but knows this is a business trip for his team and doesn't think that his history of coaching at Cornell will provide any leg-up for the Nittany Lions.

"When you have a program like that, like Cornell, they tend to replace not rebuild, so I'm sure there's a lot of guys that are juniors or sophomores that just have not played because of the talent, that will step into those shoes and play playoff level of lacrosse," said Tambroni. "Our job is to respect their tradition and respect their team and understand we're going to see a few new faces, but focus more so on us than them and just play Penn State Lacrosse."

Penn State will faceoff at Cornell on Saturday at 3 p.m.

THON and Senior Day To Spotlight Final Home Series

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11701040.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the No. 15 Penn State men's hockey team (18-8-4, 8-5-1 Big Ten) will be facing off against Ohio State (8-16-2, 3-7-2 Big Ten) this weekend, across the street from Pegula Ice Arena thousands of Penn State students will be dancing on the floor and in the stands for THON.

For the Nittany Lions, THON has become more than just a four-letter word, and has provided the opportunity for the team to develop life-long friendships with their THON child, Colton Buckley.

First paired with the men's hockey team at the age of four, Buckley
fits right in with the Nittany Lions. Now an 8-year-old who loves hockey and is taking skating lessons, Buckley's relationship with the hockey program has grown exponentially.

Over the years, several players have become extremely close to the Buckley's, specifically senior captain David Glen and senior alternate captain Luke Juha.

"He was going through chemotherapy when we first met him and really shy" said Juha. "Now he's eight and in remission, and just being able to see his development and to see him come out of his shell and grow up in front of us is pretty cool."

For Juha, his favorite memory of Buckley, other than his constantly upbeat personality, is all the times the pair has been able to play mini-sticks together.

While the purpose of being paired with a team or organization is so families can have a support system while their child undergoes treatments, the Nittany Lions would agree that the Buckley's have been just as big as a support system back to them.

Over the years, the Buckley's have traveled to games in Hockey Valley, making the two-hour drive from Reading to see the Lions take the ice. That mutual support system is what Glen credits to the close relationship the team has with the Buckley's.

"They come to as many games as they can," said Glen. "I know it's a little bit of a hike but they've been great, they've been so supportive and it's nice to be able to spend time with people like that, that are so courageous and to have the opportunity to give back even just a little bit is nice to have that opportunity."

Buckley has become part of the team in more ways than one. He has a locker in the locker room, right alongside the team. While Buckley's locker might be slightly smaller, it is just a mere puzzle piece representing the large impact such a young boy has had on the program.

"He's always in the back of our minds, he's become a part of our team since day one here," said Glen.

A highlight of THON weekend is the Nittany Lions' participation in THON's "Pep Rally," in which various athletic teams perform dance routines on stage in front of the several thousand students in attendance. Last year's men's hockey team performance was a hit, which included various props, the team wearing highlighter-pink and yellow tank tops, and ended with a pyramid that at the top, was Buckley. The performance won first place.

"Hopefully even just the little things we do make his day," said Glen. "If we can make his day just a little bit better, and his family's a little bit better, then we're doing our part."

With this weekend being the final home series for the regular season, emotions will be high for several reasons, THON being one of them. However, this weekend also is emotional because it will be the senior class' final showdown in Pegula Ice Arena.

Senior Day this year will honor eight Nittany Lions, the first class of Penn State hockey to have worn the Blue and White sweaters for all four years of the program's Division I history.

"I've been pretty emotional these last couple weeks," said Juha. "You try not to have that emotion affect you and try to turn it into a positive but obviously I'm really looking forward to [Senior Day] and at the same time I'm really dreading it because my time here at Penn State is ending and it's something I don't want to give up."

The senior class is looking forward to one final series at Pegula Ice Arena and the possibility of adding a couple more wins to their legacy.

"Penn State has done so much for me," said Juha. "And hopefully at the end of the day [the senior class] has made it a better place."  

Penn State hosts Ohio State on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and again Saturday at 3 p.m.

Effort, Attitude Lead Nittany Lions Past No. 4 Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Patrick Chambers said it when he talked with the media on Monday afternoon, just two days before Penn State's showdown with No. 4 Iowa in the Bryce Jordan Center.

At this point in February, the head coach of the Nittany Lions expects his team to begin playing its best basketball of the season. Chambers said that his teams typically put together performances in the final month of a season that illustrate a maturing group.

February is the month where freshmen become sophomores, sophomores become juniors, juniors play like seniors and the senior class competes with a sense of urgency.

Wednesday's 79-75 triumph over the Big Ten-leading Hawkeyes (20-6, 10-3 Big Ten) was Exhibit A of all the things Chambers and the Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten) envision as the season heads into the stretch run.

"We worked really hard on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday," said Chambers. "I told them that once they put the work in, they have to go out and enjoy it. They went out and shared the ball, and enjoyed it. Their huddles were great and they were dialed in."

What steered Wednesday's victory were the contributions of each Nittany Lion in the rotation. But the star of the night was senior forward Donovon Jack, who played the game of his life to help will the Lions past the Hawkeyes.

Jack finished with a career-high 19 points on a blistering 8-for-9 shooting effort. He also had five rebounds, two blocks and an assist.

"It means a lot. But, I couldn't have done it without my teammates," said Jack. "I fed off of BT (Brandon Taylor) a lot, then Shep (Garner) passed me the ball and that's all I could hope for. It's a big win for us. We just have to keep grinding and keep the momentum here for us."

Jack scored nine points in each half and came up with big buckets when the Lions needed them.  Wednesday's effort was long overdue for a guy who has worked relentlessly to become a key figure in the Penn State rotation. For Chambers, Wednesday's game was no fluke for Jack because he sees how much work the Reading native puts in during long hours in the practice gym.

"Donovon wants to be a great player and see this program succeed," said Jack. "He committed to us during a very difficult time for Penn State. He stayed loyal to us over the last four years and he just kept working and didn't give up. A couple of days ago, we had a lengthy meeting about what I expect from him moving forward. He played with incredible confidence, poise and composure. He was ready to make that big jump tonight."

Jack and his fellow seniors set the tone for the effort in Wednesday night's victory in the three practice days following the team's 70-54 setback at Nebraska.

"We came back in on Sunday and we went after it," said Chambers. "Those seniors went after it because they didn't want to let it happen again. It's very true-you practice the way you play. Our practice translated to the game tonight. Brandon Taylor's leadership over the last three days was just incredible. He would not be denied in his last three days and tonight."

Taylor scored 18 points, pulled down nine boards, tallied three assists and notched one block. The New Jersey native has scored 18 or more in seven of Penn State's Big Ten games. Taylor's scoring has been critical to the team's success, but his leadership is invaluable.

"Taylor is a much better player now then he has ever been," said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. "I think that has made a huge impact tonight and in other games like Indiana."

Penn State trailed 8-0 out of the gate against Iowa and did not score until the 15:22 mark of the first half. The team's effort never wavered, and the Lions battled back.

A string of Shep Garner threes proved to be the turning point for the night, though. Garner nailed back-to-back threes mid-way through the first half and added a jumper and two more long balls on later possessions to give the sophomore guard 14 points in a span of 6:18. His fourth 3-pointer at the 7:17 mark ignited a 10-0 run from the Nittany Lions, who in the midst of the surge claimed a 26-25 lead with 5:07 on the clock in the first half.

It would be a lead the Blue and White never relinquished. Iowa got as close as two on two separate occasions and within three in the final seconds, but Penn State punched back every time the Hawkeyes mounted a charge. The Lions finished off the game by making 16 of their last 18 free throw attempts in the final 4:17.

With five regular season games to play, the Nittany Lions still have a lot of work to do. Penn State has three home games in its last five, but next up is a trip to Rutgers on Saturday.

"After a win like this, the key is not getting too high. We're happy about this win, but we got another game," said Taylor. "We leave on Saturday, so we can't just focus on this win. We got another game coming, another Big Ten team, and we play them away, so we have to go there and get the job done there, too."




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a weekend filled with triumph and disappointment, the Nittany Lions headed home to Happy Valley from Florida hungry for their next chance to prove themselves.

That chance comes this weekend, when Penn State travels back down to the Sunshine State to participate in the Jacksonville Tournament. The Nittany Lions enter the tournament 1-4 on the season, but head coach Amanda Lehotak isn't letting that damper her players' spirits.

Making their second big road trip in under a week, Lehotak has had her team's own performance be the main focus in practice, and hasn't spent too much time worrying about their upcoming opponents.

"Our focus is just on us," Lehotak said. "We do a little preparation for the teams we're playing this weekend without the team even knowing. But really this past weekend we played well but there was things that we failed in our game so we just really focused on Penn State this week." 

There was a lot to learn from the "Kick-Off" Classic in Boca Raton, but the main takeaway for junior Shelby Miller is that this team still has a lot to prove to itself and to the competition.

"We feel like we have something to prove that we did not prove [last weekend] and we're very excited to get back out there," Miller said. "[Last weekend] was a big learning experience, we obviously know we didn't do as well as we should have. We know that this weekend we really have to execute on different things and do our jobs more than we did last weekend." 

Penn State struggled offensively throughout the tournament, including a tough outing against Wright State when they averaged two runners on base every inning and couldn't get big hits to bring them in. Despite the struggles, the pitching staff kept the Nittany Lions close in all their games.

"We've said all along that to reach our goals this year we had to have good pitching," Lehotak said. "Typically in the past our offense has kept us in the games, so it was fantastic to see our pitching keep us in the games and it was just ironic that it was our offense that couldn't do it for us. We tell our pitchers all the time they don't need to win a game for us, they need to manage a game for us and they did exactly that this week."

Freshman pitcher Madison Seifert notched her first collegiate win when the Lions defeated Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) in their third game. While it was exciting for her to get the win under her belt, she was the third pitcher to come in for the Nittany Lions and credits the entire pitching staff for helping her get there.

Lehotak loves what she's seeing from her pitchers, and is hopeful that they will build upon their performances as the season continues.  

 "It helps [with their mentality] a lot," Lehotak said. "This is probably the most confident pitching staff I've seen since I've been here, which is huge." 

As the Nittany Lions get ready for their second trip down south, Lehotak has faith that her team will get back on track.

"We're right there, we're knocking on the door. We're confident and taking it one step at a time. As a coach, it's difficult to see them not get their goals in for this weekend, but we have 49 games left."

Men's Hoops Gameday 2015-16 - Penn State vs. Iowa (2/17/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage of the 2015-16 Nittany Lion basketball season. The Nittany Lions return home on Wednesday for a matchup against No. 4 Iowa.

Live Blog Men's Hoops Gameday 2015-16 - Penn State vs. Iowa (2/17/16)