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Spring Ball Top Performers: Running Backs

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the final position by position look at the Nittany Lions this spring, check in with Nittany Lion running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider for a closer look at who is standing out. Read More

Spring Ball Top Performers: Running Backs

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's spring season has nearly come to a close, culminating with tomorrow's Blue-White spring game. In the final position by position look at the Nittany Lions this spring, check in with Nittany Lion running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider for a closer look at who is standing out. 

For Seider the running backs have all made strides this spring, but it's the older Nittany Lions like Miles Sanders and Mark Allen who are leading the way.

"The older guys are playing like older guys, taking pride in working on the little things like technique and footwork, all of that stuff," Seider said.

Earlier this spring it was Sanders who noted the process of stepping into more of a leadership role was something he's actively working toward.

"Miles is a guy who we are leaning on and he's doing a great job of stepping up and trying to be a leader," Seider said. "He'll call at night and say, 'hey coach I could have done this,' which is important because that's what you want to see with an older kid who has growth potential."

Seider noted Sanders has taken the increased leadership responsibilities off the field too, spending more time going through film and taking time to study all aspects of his game.

"It's encouraging to see him taking on that aspect of the game because that shows me this kid is really developing and working on being that back we want him to be," Seider said. 

Looking toward the younger Nittany Lions, Seider has been impressed with the strides Journey Brown and Johnathan Thomas have made, but is more impressed with just how much the group has continued to lock in on their new position coach. 

"They are taking to coaching which is important and gravitating to me, a new coach coming in, and it's been fun seeing those guys buy in," Seider said.

By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being cut during Penn State's softball tryouts in the fall of her freshman year, Amanda Grieco spent the majority of her first year in Happy Valley playing for Penn State's club softball team. Fast forward a year and the now-sophomore once again attended the team's tryouts hoping to earn a spot in the program as a walk-on.  Read More

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being cut during Penn State's softball tryouts in the fall of her freshman year, Amanda Grieco spent the majority of her first year in Happy Valley playing for Penn State's club softball team. Fast forward a year and the now-sophomore once again attended the team's tryouts hoping to earn a spot in the program as a walk-on. 

Although Grieco admitted the second time around was another difficult week of practice, she got the news of a lifetime by head coach Amanda Lehotak and her staff - she made the team.

"It was just so surreal. It was awesome," Grieco said.

 "Another great walk-on," Lehotak said of her new sophomore infielder. "She tried out last year but we didn't take her because our roster size was pretty big, but luckily she came back this year. Her and Ashton (Messinger) have probably been two of the best things that have ever happened to us. (Grieco's) so appreciative to be here, and so badly wants to be here." 

Just making the team, however, wasn't enough for Grieco. Without a doubt, the nursing major has been a great addition on the field for the Blue and White. She's started a total of 28 games and is tied for first on the team in runs with 17 over the course of her first season. 

"I just think getting on base is really important in any way you can. It doesn't really matter how," Grieco said. "Scoring runs is the biggest aspect of the game."

"I just show up and work hard every day," Grieco added about her early success. "I think hard-work pays off."

Coach Lehotak has certainly noticed Grieco's hard work and drive that has helped her become an impact player in such a short amount time. 

"Her work ethic is amazing in the classroom and on the field," Lehotak commented. "And just who she is as a person, too. She's high character and will do anything for the team. A very selfless person, which is just so contagious." 

"Amanda's worked her way into the lineup. She's had a really good year for not playing for two years (since high school). If this is her baseline now, I can't imagine how much better she's going to be next year." 

Grieco credited the upperclassman on the team for helping to make her transition from a club player to a varsity starter easier.

"I think everybody's great, but all the seniors, Jess (Cummings), Gianna (Arrizurieta), Toni (Polk), Tori (Dubois), and (Madison Shaffer) have all been here for me since day one," Grieco said. 'It's be awesome."

 "When I was deciding if I wanted to join the team, the players were a big part of it. The players on the team helped me decide to say yes to coach," Gireco added. "They helped me a lot. I think if it was a different team I don't think I would've said yes. I played club and was really close with those people, so leaving them was hard. But I think my teammates here really confirmed my decision to say yes."  

Grieco will look to continue her good play on the field as her and the Nittany Lions prepare to take on Indiana for a three game road series this weekend.

Spring Ball Features: Wade Making Strides at Safety

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This time last year Lamont Wade was nearly finished with his first spring season, set to take the field at Beaver Stadium for his first Blue-White outing. Seated inside the fueling station at the Lasch Building nearly 365 days later, Wade paused for a moment to look back. Read More

Spring Ball Features: Wade Making Strides at Safety

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This time last year Lamont Wade was nearly finished with his first spring season, set to take the field at Beaver Stadium for his first Blue-White outing.

Seated inside the fueling station at the Lasch Building nearly 365 days later, Wade paused for a moment to look back.

"Coming in it was real rough," Wade said. "Being in high school one week and then literally next week, next month, being in the college system, it's really great seeing how much I have changed from then."

In a span of time just shy of year, Wade is bigger, stronger and mentally tougher too. The result of a ferocious winter conditioning effort - one where Penn State assistant athletics director for performance enhancement Dwight Galt described him as a piranha in a small pool in a media session on max out day.

"Coming in, like I said, it's real rough," Wade said. "Sometimes you're up and down about it. You're not sure and when something gets hard and you might want to give up. Getting older you realize you don't really have the option."

Wade is older, yes, but things aren't exactly easier. Instead, what now comes easier is more in learning how to deal with change, like understanding lifts and workouts, eating better and even something like switching positions.

At the start of spring ball, Penn State head coach James Franklin listed off a variety of position changes across the roster. Among the moves, Lamont Wade from cornerback to safety. 

When asked about the move, Franklin noted the Nittany Lions are in good shape depth-wise at cornerback. In Wade's case it's perhaps an opportunity for Penn State to replace a few question marks at safety with exclamation points.

"Lamont is a football player and although he's not the longest guy in terms of height, he's put together," Franklin said. "He'll hit you, and we just felt like it probably played to a little bit more of his strengths." 

Since arriving back on campus for Penn State's NFL Pro Day, former standout safety Marcus Allen asks Wade the same series of questions every time he sees him.

"He asks me how I like it, how it's going so far," Wade said. "I just let him know and he lets me know all of the upsides of playing safety, what was hard about it and what came naturally."

For Wade, it's a certain toughness and aggression that happens to come easy for him.

"It's one thing safeties have to have," Wade said. "I feel like my aggression comes natural. I feel like my instincts come natural even though there's a whole different step playing safety. You're kind of pushed into a captain role because you're starting to make more calls out there. You have to make sure other people are in alignment too."

Outside of a natural aggression, there's of course the added emphasis on communication, something Wade says started at cornerback. Looking over, getting the call and flying into action.

"At safety, you have to not only get the call to yourself but get the call to the man to the right, to the left and in front of you," Wade said. "Just making sure everyone is straight and taking accountability is one of the biggest things."

One of three true freshmen to start in 2017, Wade played in 12 games, finishing the season with three pass breakups and a forced fumble, which came on a kickoff return at Rutgers.

Wade had a significant role one special teams last season, something he credits to helping him tremendously.

"I played a lot on special teams," Wade said. "My role increased on special teams throughout the season. Special teams is a part of the game, they say if you start on special teams, you're a starter."

This spring though, Wade is back at square one, or starting right back at the beginning if you ask him.

"It's a new position, so I have to take new strides," Wade said. "I've played safety for probably two games in my whole high school career so it's completely new to me." 

It's a humbling experience, but one Wade is determined to see through, setting his spring goal to get fully comfortable at safety. 

"I'm a sophomore, in my second year but honestly it feels like I am a freshman again because it's a whole new position with whole new techniques," Wade said. "I know the play book but it's going out there and adjusting."

Come Saturday, Wade will have one final opportunity to go out and get adjusted. Represent the white team in Penn State's annual spring game, he's listed alongside a spring ball standout in Jonathan Sutherland and current early enrollee Isaiah Humphries, to name a few.

For new position coach Tim Banks though, when it comes to Wade he knows, he'll be ready to go when it's time to.

"Lamont's excited, he loves to play football, it's important to him," Banks said. "Obviously with a new position, there's a learning curve he has to get through but he is a willing participant. He's really working hard."

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Assistant Athletic Trainer Michael Gay has been with the Penn State track and field team for just about five years, and to him, his job is more than just treating injuries, but actually getting to know the athletes and teaching them life lessons.  Read More

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Assistant Athletic Trainer Michael Gay has been with the Penn State track and field team for just about five years, and to him, his job is more than just treating injuries, but actually getting to know the athletes and teaching them life lessons.

 

"One of the biggest things is how this stuff applies to life. How fighting through and getting through tough times, something that doesn't go well, how you can sort that out, take inventory of what's going on and move forward and do better," Gay said. "Each one of us has this ability inside, and it's something that each of these kids needs to take with them and apply later."

 

Although his job is to treat injuries and help athletes get better, he says that the most rewarding part is watching these athletes compete.

 

"The most rewarding part of the job is watching kids compete, work hard. It's PRs, it's kids that come from tough spots at the beginning of the year and progress then do something special at the end of the year," Gay said. "I just like the little stuff like that. Kids going to compete and PR and they're excited, they've done something they've never do before in their lives. It's really cool to watch it and celebrate with them."

 

Junior Maddie Holmberg is just one of the athletes that has been working alongside Gay for some time due to injuries. She says that Gay never settles and continues to look for new ways to treat injuries.

 

"Mike's really big about communication. A lot of it is that he doesn't have a cookie cutter protocol, which I think is a great thing," Holmberg said. "A lot of it is based on how we're feeling, how we're reacting to different rehabs, and he's never pushed us to do anything we're not comfortable with, but he can tell by the performances we're doing in the rehab when we're ready to get back to 100%."

 

Although battling through injuries is tough, Holmberg has had Gay's help to push through the tough times to become an All-American in the pentathalon this past indoor season.

 

"She fought through a lot of stuff. She's such a tough kid, the multis are tough people. They grind through five events in the winter and seven events in outdoor. Just to keep your body in shape and the effort, focus and determination it takes to get through one full day of competition and for each of those events to go well," Gay said. "Maddie is a special kid because she just fights a lot of little things here and there that have repeated and got in her way. She had an unfortunate injury at the end of her year last year that sort of set her back, but she refocused and has really put stuff together and is looking great this year."

 

"During the multi, Mike's always paying attention between events and giving me and my different injuries the attention that they need during the heptathlon. Being able to have him there is great. I always know when the 800 is over because I always see Mike at the finish line, and he's typically always there to either pick me up or give me water or anything else that I need," Holmberg added.

 

More than just treating injuries, Gay hopes that every athlete that seeks treatment is also learning lessons that can be applied throughout the rest of their lives.

 

 "You always have to come at them with the positive, you come at them with talking about the process, you come at them talking about how on the other side of bad things there are good things. That's not only just a sports thing. That's something they'll need to carry with them for life when tragedy happens or something tough happens. They got to persevere. Take each day as it comes and try to get a better spot and that's what we try to mock here," Gay said. "My hope is that the stuff that they get here, they can go on and use when they are husbands, wives, workers or leaders in the community afterwards."

 

Holmberg says that Gay isn't just interested in their injuries, but also with forming relationships with the athletes. She knows that he cares about more than just the injury.

 

"Mike is super invested that's something that I don't think anyone can deny. He not only is invested in our health, but more so our well-being. He knows the sport really well, so he's sympathetic in that aspect in knowing that any minor injury can drastically affect our performances," Holmberg said.

 

Through the relationships that Holmberg and Gay have formed throughout the past few years, it is obvious that Gay sees great potential in Holmberg as the season continues.

 

"She'll be a record-holder and All-American. The sky's the limit for her. She's got great potential, and she's going to be one of the best multis we've ever had here at Penn State," Gay said.

By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions fell in both games of a doubleheader Wednesday night to St. Francis, but despite the outcome the team is looking to take away positives from players that stepped up at Beard Field.  Read More
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Last April in the midst of cheers and NCAA National Championships excitement, current sophomore Stephen Nedoroscik stood at the top of the pommel horse podium amongst some of the best gymnasts in the United States. Read More

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