By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 16 Penn State will travel to East Lansing, Michigan for its final regular season road series of the year in a crucial matchup against Michigan State.
Penn State is coming off a bye week that couldn't have come at a better time. Following a physical series with top-ranked Notre Dame nine days ago, the Nittany Lions capitalized on some extra time off this past week, getting a head start in preparing for their upcoming series with the Spartans.
"We worked really hard during the week," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Friday was a really good day in the weight room and on the ice for us. The rest was both well earned and well needed."
For the Nittany Lions, the week off allowed for both added practice and some extra recovery before jumping back into competition.
"We're looking forward to another good week this week," Gadowsky said. "There are four really big games left in the conference and we hope this break helps."
Senior defensemen Trevor Hamilton noted the Nittany Lions took full advantage of the bye week.
"It's a huge advantage for us right now," Hamilton said. "We're going through some struggles with everyone getting sick and injured, so it's definitely nice to relax and just take care of some maintenance things."
Hamilton, who grew up not far from East Lansing in Grosse Pointe Farms, is looking forward to the opportunity to return home and play in front of his friends and family.
"It's always fun going back to Michigan," Hamilton said. "My family usually can't come out here to watch me play, so it's nice to be able to go see them. I'm really excited."
Hamilton has seen success against Michigan State this year, having scored a game-tying goal with :34 seconds remaining in the final game of the series at Pegula Ice Arena in late November. He also added an assist in game one the night before.
Penn State took the first game of the Michigan State series, 7-2, tying a season-high mark for goals. Despite the earlier success against the Spartans, Penn State isn't taking anything for granted headed down the stretch of the regular season.
"No game is easy in the Big Ten," Hamilton said. "This year it has been one of the best conferences in hockey. We realize what's at hand here with the last four regular season games."
Gadowsky noted a point of emphasis for the team this weekend is getting shots on net. Penn State's ability to create chances was evident against Notre Dame, as the Nittany Lions rattled off a combined 108 shots over the course of the weekend."We were able to generate consistent chances on offense for most of the periods of that weekend and that's something we'd love to see going forward," Gadowsky said. "Obviously we played a great goaltender, but if we play that way and get those chances, we feel good about what can happen. "
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's soccer has always been at the forefront of the fight to cure childhood cancer through its THON involvement.
From raising awareness throughout the season to participating in the annual SAAB lip sync battle and the THON pep rally, those are just a few ways the Nittany Lions have opted to get involved.
This year, the team is stepping it up a notch.
Penn State women's soccer will represent two of the five Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) student-athletes participating as dancers during THON weekend, which kicks off Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Senior Megan Schafer and junior Sarafina Valenti will be on their feet for 46 hours straight dancing for a cure.
Each year, SAAB selects student-athletes to represent their organization, with Schafer and Valenti among five dancers this year.
Schafer, as she did on the soccer field all year, will serve as the veteran in the group alongside second year SAAB dancer Charlie Shuman (football). She danced in THON last year and has been giving Valenti and her fellow first time SAAB dancers some advice leading up to the weekend.
"Everyone says you don't truly understand THON until you're actually a part of it and that's absolutely true," Schafer said.
One of the main reasons Schafer got involved in THON in the first place was because of her young cousin, Mary. Mary was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and Schafer got to witness first-hand the impact it can have on families.
Thankfully, Mary is cancer-free today, but that won't stop Schafer from continuing to fight for a cure.
Some might say standing for 46 hours with no sleep is insane, but Schafer can't wait to get back inside the Bryce Jordan Center for round two. She said immediately after THON last year, even though she developed some serious "cankles," she wished she could go right back.
"When I told my trainer I was dancing again she called me crazy but clearly I'm crazy and passionate enough about THON that I want to do it again," Schafer said.
Schafer said her favorite parts of dancing in THON were the pep rally and learning the line dance. She said even though it was an exhausting experience, there was nothing she'd rather do on any given weekend.
"When you start to get tired and your feet start to hurt you just put it into perspective and realize that you can do this because people are going through a lot more than you are that weekend," Schafer said.
Valenti will be dancing at THON for the first time this year. She spent more 30 hours at the BJC last year, but she said she loved the energy so much she couldn't wait to get more involved. That's when she decided to dance with her teammate.
"This year I wanted to make a bigger impact and get down on the floor to really experience what THON is all about," Valenti said.
Valenti said she's excited to dance for SAAB's THON families, the Messina's and the Buckley's, who the team has only grown closer with over the last few years.
Valenti said she expects to be prepared physically because of the tough spring workouts the team has already started. She said being a student-athlete will help her immensely with the physical fitness needed to complete a 46-hour dance marathon.
Schafer has also offered Valenti some friendly advice as THON weekend approaches, to enjoy the experience and don't take it for granted.
For the two teammates, it will be a weekend they will never forget.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni, the symbol of a great team comes down to winning the battles between the 30-yard lines. Come Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions bounced back from a disappointing season-opener with a 15-8 win against Hobart.
Following last weekend's overtime loss to Villanova, there was perhaps nobody more disappointed than Nittany Lion sophomore faceoff specialist Gerard Arceri.
"He felt horrible after last week's game and it wasn't on him, but he holds himself to such a higher standard," Tambroni said.
This week, Arceri spent time in practice keying in on communication with his wings, focusing on helping the defense by giving his team more opportunities for possession.
"In practice we do this drill where instead of the wings, traditionally in the game where they're so far out, we kind of bring the wings in and they give me a lot of pressure when I pull out the ball and they do a good job of boxing each other out so I think we really improved from last game on that," Arceri said. "It's something to be pretty excited about I'd say."
For Arceri and the Nittany Lions, the excitement didn't come easy, as Hobrt erased a 3-goal Penn State lead to tie the score, 4-4, at the end of the first quarter. At the faceoff x, Arceri was also just 2-for-8.
By halftime, the Nittany Lions were trailing by one, 7-6, as senior Ryan Keenan broke up 3-0 Hobart scoring streak with a wraparound goal off a feed from junior Nick Spillane with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter.
It was all Penn State out of the break, as the Nittany Lions put away back-to-back goals from junior Matt Donnelly and Spillane early in the third quarter to pull ahead, 8-7, igniting the offense.
The Nittany Lions saw Arceri win all five faceoff attempts in the third quarter as Penn State dominated possession.
"When I'm dealing with that adversity and stuff like that, I just try to stay true to my ability and I think that worked out for me," Arceri said.
Arceri also gave credit of course to his wings, who dialed up the toughness in the second half.
"We talked about in the second half trying to keep the wings off of me and just letting me go one-on-one with the other faceoff guy so I could direct the ball wherever I need to," Arceri said.
For Tambroni, it made all the difference.
"Last week, we just kind of lost focus in the second half and just played, we didn't execute, we just played," Tambroni said. "Today I thought for 60 minutes, we didn't win them all, certainly didn't win our fair share in the first half, but I thought we stayed the course and tried to at least execute a game plan and I thought today was just a much better start to finish job by those wing guys. They made a big difference, that's a unit. I know Gerard gets a lot of credit for what he does but I thought today, those guys battled when the ball was on the ground and kept it alive."
Penn State capitalized on the increase in offensive possessions, scoring four goals in the third quarter. The Nittany Lions kept momentum alive in the fourth quarter to widen the scoring streak to a 9-1 advantage that spanned the second half. Arceri also went 5-6 in faceoffs in the third quarter to finish 16-for-24 on the day.
"Bouncing off last week, the third quarter we had a bunch of goals and then the fourth quarter, we just fell off," Mac O'Keefe said. "We just wanted to stay together and not fall off like we did last week, it was something we focused on."
The Nittany Lions had little trouble executing a strong finish, as O'Keefe added three goals in the fourth quarter to conclude the day with a team-high five goals.
"Our message to our guys was lets reflect back," Tambroni said. "Remember what happened when we were coming out of the huddle and to use that experience to fuel a more cerebral second half. A more cerebral fourth quarter. Today I thought they played with a much better mindset, they were much more aware how the game was going situationally and took advantage of the situations that were available."
By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The top-ranked Nittany Lions downed the Iowa Hawkeyes in front of a record crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday night with a 28-13 win.
An NCAA indoor wrestling record 15,998 fans watched Penn State battle and use timely pins for another big win. The crowd also marks a school record for the largest athletic event attendance in a non-Beaver Stadium event at Penn State.
"We started out a little slow," Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson said. "A few guys rallied and ended up wrestling really well at the end. It was a tough team and every match is a big match and at this time of the year it was good to see guys step up."
With the match tied at six, top-ranked Zain Retherford faced off with No. 2 Brandon Sorensen at 149 pounds. Retherford controlled most of the match, needing only two takedowns, an escape and 3:14 of riding time to beat Sorensen, 6-2, giving Penn State its first lead of the night, 9-6. Retherford is now 5-0 against Sorensen, who only has 14 career losses.
After Penn State lost two straight bouts, trailing the dual 13-9, Mark Hall set out to regain the lead for his team. With an early takedown, Hall unleashed the cradle on Iowa's Joe Gunther and collected the pin at the 1:00 mark to give Penn State a lead it would never relent.
While Hall didn't feel any pressure to get a pin, he always wants to contribute the most he can for his team.
"Every dual meet it's my objective to get a pin," Hall said. "Every match that's the most team points you can get for your squad. It's definitely not a pressure thing, it's more just going out and doing what I'm good at. Getting to the positions I'm good at and if I'm in a position I'm not good at then I need to get somewhere where I am good."
Hall set the Nittany Lions ahead 15-13 before Bo Nickal extended the Nittany Lion lead with six more points of his own. Nickal also turned to the cradle to finish off Mitch Bowman. After Hall needed only 60 seconds for his pin, Nickal needed only 50 seconds to register his 13th pin of the season.
Shakur Rasheed got the nod for the Nittany Lions at 197 pounds and once again impressed with an 11-2 win against seventh-ranked Cash Wilcke. Two takedowns in both the first and third periods helped Rasheed to the major decision.
The Nittany Lions remain in tight competition when it comes to 197 pounds with both Rasheed and Anthony Cassar continuing to impress when called upon.
"The competition is good," Sanderson said. "I wish we had that at every weight. Both Anthony and Shak [Shakur Rasheed] are wrestling great. We're proud of both of them and we love both of them and I think the team feels the same way about both of them."
In a bit of postmatch fun, Sanderson turned the mic over to Rasheed to clarify some pronunciations. While many fans know of Rasheed as Shak, Sanderson also has another nickname for the junior.
"He used to call me sugar," Rasheed said. "He [Sanderson] was the first one to call me that, I don't even know how he got that. But, I thought of it as Sugar Ray so it's cool."
At 285 pounds Nick Nevills closed out the night with a hard-fought victory over third-ranked Sam Stoll, 3-2. Following a 15-10 loss against Ohio State's top-ranked Kyle Snyder last weekend, Nevills is happy to get the big win.
"Last week, for me, everyone was super excited, but I was bummed," Nevills said. "I felt like I was in that match but I think it has given me confidence. I wrestled well there, I wrestled well against Rutgers and this match I got the win. There are a lot of things I can work on, I don't normally let people get away from me as quickly as this guy did tonight. It's just something to take back into the room on Monday and get back to work."
Penn State closes out the regular season at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18th hosting Buffalo in Rec Hall.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If one were to travel north beyond the United State's border they would not only find a country rife with beautiful landscapes of mountains and lakes, a myriad of different languages and maple syrup, but also the hometowns of two Penn State gymnasts.
Sophomore and all-around competitor Sam Zakutney hails from Ottawa, Ontario, while junior and all-around gymnast Wyatt Tyndall calls Saskatoon, Saskatchewan home. Although the two Nittany Lions live 1821 miles (2932 km) and 32 hours apart, they still share the bond of one country, one maple leaf, and one red and white flag.
"Coming here my freshman year I didn't know anybody so when we were recruiting Sam I knew Sam from where I'm from," Tyndall said. "We're pretty far apart but we've seen each other before, been on the same team. We've been at nationals at Elite Canada before so I got to know him a little bit...We always relate back. We always make jokes about maple syrup and things like that and it's fun that way for sure."
While the two teammates and native Canadians bond over their childhood roots, they also find unity through their ability to represent the sport they love in both Penn State Blue and White and Canadian Red and White.
"It is interesting to note that a lot of the other schools have started to look at Canada as a viable option for some prospects," head coach Randy Jepson said. "We were out in front of that a little bit because people wanted a good engineering degree for the most part and be able to do gymnastics...So that is kind of the draw here you can't lose education or gymnastics."
"It brings a little bit to the team and Penn State has always been an international team," Tyndall said. "Randy recruited around the world for a long time now so I think that helped my opportunity here and I think that is a big part of why I am here. I mean I am proud of being Canadian but it is fun learning to live in another country too."
Since the Nittany Lions had off the first weekend of February, Zakutney and Jepson took the opportunity to travel north for Elite Canada. Elite Canada is equivalent to America's Winter Cup, which will host sophomore Stephen Nedoroscik and freshman Brennan Pantazis later this month.
"I've been competing in it since I was 11 years old," Zakutney said of Elite Canada. "But I guess this one is pretty important considering these World Championships are the first ones where you can qualify a team to the Olympics possibly so that is kind of a dream of mine but I am kind of just going to make it a reality some day."
Zakutney returned to the country, city and meet where he first laid the path for his gymnastic pursuits and dreams. As a senior competitor, the future Nittany Lion placed fourth with an all-around 75.134 score. Club Gymnika's Rene Cournoyer topped the podium at 80.800.
"Sam did a nice job at Elite Canada," Jepson said. "He finished fourth all-around and he showed he is right in the thick of it for Team Canada which is great...He has a good chance to represent Canada at the World Championships next fall so this is a part of that process and he showed well for that."
Although Tyndall stayed in State College to rest and maintain his health for the remainder of the season, both Nittany Lions are expected to compete for Canada during the country's national championships in May and throughout training camp in the summer.
"We wanted to save him a little bit and he had the opportunity last year to go as well," Jepson said. "He'll probably go to the Canadian Championships this summer, but you know it's tough to have all the meets in a row and have a good weekend there and be able to come back and really perform."
Beyond the opportunity to compete for Olympic berths and national recognitions, the two gymnasts forged a friendship through the dedication of gymnastics and the pride of a country.
"Getting to know him [Zakutney] a lot more here was cool," Tyndall said. "He had a connection here; I think that helped why he came here and we've come closer for sure obviously."
Their evolved bond not only tightens the threads of the pride, honor and legacy woven throughout the storied histories of their school and country, but it also transcends the meaning of gymnastic and sport.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's gymnastics, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.
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