By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just under three weeks until the Big Ten Championships, the Nittany Lion cross country teams are set to run their last meet before championship season starts.
The Penn State National Open is to take place this Friday, October 13th at the Blue and White Golf Courses. The teams are using this meet as an opportunity to push themselves one last time before entering the championship part of their season. This part of the season includes the Big Ten Championships, NCAA Regional, and the NCAA Championships.
This home meet serves as a last chance to race before it really matters.
"I see every meet before championship season as way to practice racing, so you have to get used to racing again and get everyone in a good spot mentality," said senior Jill Hunsberger. "It's an opportunity for us to realize that we can accomplish a lot."
"I think we are just trying to work to kinks out, and to see one last time of a good hard effort before we really have to buckle down and get focused," added senior Greta Lindsley. "We've been focused all year long, but I feel like in the past it's been aimed toward getting more in shape and now it's time to get ready to execute what we've been practicing instead of getting stronger and fitter. Now, it's getting the pieces together as a team to create something magical."
The National Open also acts as a good way to prep for the competition at the championship level. With teams like Oklahoma State, Villanova and West Virginia, the Lions will be racing teams that will help them prepare for running in their championship meet.
"There's going to be good teams here, so we're going to be running toward the front of the pack. It gets us used to racing at the Big Ten level where there's going to be some really good competition," said senior Bobby Hill.
"I like this meet because it's at our home course again, which is really cool because it's my last home meet. We're going to use it to kinda keep running as a pack and get ready for Big Tens," said senior Tim McGowan.
For some of the Nittany Lion runners, like the seniors mentioned above, this will be the last shot they get at winning a Big Ten Championship. It will also be their last time running a race on their home course.
"I'm really excited especially because it's my last season. It's really been great to watch the team grow over my years here. So, that's really exciting especially since it's my last go around. You know everyone says in your last season to give it all that you got, and I think this year we are looking better than we ever have," said Hill. "The team is more together than it ever has been, which is really nice. Other than that, I'm really excited for championship season."
This last chance mentality has some of the senior runners feeling more than ready to give it their all for their final few races.
"It's a little sad going into my last championship season as a senior, but it's kinda cool to have nothing to lose and a lot to gain It's really exciting but definitely sad at the same time," said McGowan.
"It is my last cross country championship season, but I'm kind of excited for it. It's definitely something to look forward to," said Hunsberger. "It's a little sad being my last one, but at the same time it's just another reason to get after it to go and kill it."
These seniors and the rest of the Nittany Lions will be racing their final home meet of the season Friday, October 13th with races starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Blue and White Golf Courses.