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Nittany Lions Triumphant at Rainy Spiked Shoe Invitational

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10312949.jpegBy Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion cross country teams dominated on a cool, rainy Saturday morning, as both the men's and women's squads took the winning titles at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational for the first time since 2003.

The men finished with a total team score of 41, topping No. 8 Syracuse, which finished second with 47 points.

The men's team had a big boost from senior Matt Fischer. Fischer scored an individual victory, marking the second-straight year that a Nittany Lion has scored the individual title. Glen Burkhardt (4), Robby Creese (8), and Wade Endress (10) also played big roles for the team by finishing in the top 10.

"I think, finally, we can say that we have some really good distance depth with this team and that these guys are ready to compete with some of the best teams in the nation," said Fischer. "We wanted to go out there and have fun and feel out the season a little bit. I think we did a great job as a team and I couldn't be more excited about where everyone's [fitness level] is at."

The Penn State women finished with 27 points, defeating the No. 13 Syracuse women who came in second place with a score of 38. The Nittany Lions had four women finish within the top 10 runners, including freshman Elizabeth Chikotas in third, senior Leigha Anderson (4), freshman Jillian Hunsberger (5) and junior Tori Gerlach (9).

"We really worked together to get us through the first half of the race and it is a really cool experience to have teammates around you that make you believe in yourself. We worked hard and pushed and I felt really good going into those hills. [In those] last 1200 [meters] we were going all out," said Chikotas.

So far this season, the Nittany Lions have illustrated impressive teamwork. Their pack running strategy has improved greatly and their confidence in themselves and their team camaraderie is evident.

"On the women's side we had two freshmen in our top three, which is outstanding. Jillian [Hunsberger] and Elizabeth [Chikotas] have come in and they have been running and working hard and [today] they really showed that the hard work they put in this summer has paid off," said interim head coach John Gondak.


"Matt and the group ran as a pack through almost four miles of the race and it turned into a last mile and a half sprint [between] us, Georgetown, and Syracuse and our guys really responded well and pulled out a six-point victory. It was a great day for them," Gondak said.

In attendance at the Invitational was former Penn State head coach Harry Groves for whom the invitational is named after.

Groves remains an important part of Penn State and is definitely the program's No. 1 fan. He followed every race around in his golf cart cheering on the team and telling stories about his time at the University.

"Harry and I set up the course every year so we spend a lot of time out here together and he's still a very big, big part of Penn State Track and Field. We're excited that he comes to events like these," said Gondak.

The Nittany Lions will be rigorously training for the next three weeks before racing again on Oct. 3 when the team will travel to South Bend, Indiana, for the Notre Dame Invitational to officially begin their qualification races for the NCAA Championships.


Blue and White Swim Meet Strengthens Team Unity

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9745537.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Split into two teams, Blue and White, the Nittany Lions had the opportunity to race at their annual intra-squad meet on Friday. Swimmers and divers were able to see how they stack up against their teammates as well as strengthen team camaraderie.


The meet also gave head coach Tim Murphy, diving coach Dennis Ceppa and assistant coaches Steve Barnes, Doak Finch and Liz McMillan an opportunity to gauge where their swimmers and divers stand early in the season. With nontraditional distances, the meet was geared towards team unity and wrapped up with a tailgate in the natatorium with friends, family and fans.

For Murphy, he gave the team three things to focus on: their teammates, being competitive and race preparation.

"Competitively, we saw some good races," Murphy said. "We saw some spunk from the younger group, but we still have work to do. Overall, I think they did a good job."


The Blue and White meet typically takes place further into the year, but with an earlier meet schedule in 2014, the Nittany Lions were ready to race.

"I think it was a great experience for our first meet, we really saw how we fit as one team and it was great to race each other this early on," said junior Kaitlin Jones. "We definitely were able to see how in and out of shape we are."


For senior captain, Nate Savoy, the Blue and White meet marked the beginning of his final season.

"Time has gone by fast," Savoy said. "But I'm excited to get my last season started and it was really good to have an opportunity to race this early in the year."


When asked about his thoughts on the overall meet, Savoy responded with enthusiasm.

"I was really proud of how much energy and effort the team brought to the table," said Savoy. "I'm excited to see this team grow over the upcoming months."


The strong team dynamic was evident to fans when the team lined the pool deck following the final relay to lead fans in a singing of the Alma Mater. The team then gathered in for a final "We Are! Penn State!" cheer before warming down.

With three weeks until their first official meet, coach Murphy is planning how the team will prepare for Georgia Tech.

"We'll be doing more racing in practice," Murphy said. "We have to keep pushing the envelope but I think they are in a good place for now."


The newly-installed endless pool system will also help the team prepare to take on the Yellow Jackets. Endless pools are much shorter than competition pools and use propellers to generate currents. The currents prevent the swimmer from reaching the end of the pool and can be adjusted based on skill level.

For the Nittany Lions, the new addition to the pool deck will allow coaches to break down stroke mechanics and correct technique.

"The current really lets them feel what they're doing," Murphy said. "They're so used to just going up and down the pool, it's a great tool."


While there are a few tweaks to be made, Murphy and his coaching staff are excited to get it up and running in the near future. But for now, it's business as usual for the swimmers and divers as they look towards their next opportunity to compete.

Catch the Nittany Lions in action on Friday, Oct. 3 at McCoy Natatorium as they kick off the official 2014-'15 season against Georgia Tech.

Hackenberg, Nittany Lions Cool Under Fire

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10310972.jpegVIDEO: Player Interviews at Rutgers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No matter how many times it happens, the magnitude of clockwork execution on a game-winning drive cannot be overstated.

The Nittany Lions added another chapter in a long list of dramatic victories on the road Saturday night when the offense marched 80 yards in 1:49 to knock off Rutgers, 13-10, in the first Big Ten game of the season.

Simply put, it did not matter to the Lions that they had played 56:58 without visiting the end zone, or that the largest crowd in Highpoint Solutions Stadium history was on its feet roaring.

Down 10-6 with 3:02 to play following a stand from the Nittany Lion defense, Christian Hackenberg led the offense onto the field in a very familiar set of circumstances - score a touchdown or the game was over.

Never rattled by the size of the stage, the stakes or having been sacked five times, the field general's message to the huddle was simple when the game was on the line.

"He basically said, 'let's make the plays we need to make and get out of here with a win,'" said junior Geno Lewis.

It's truly remarkable to think that Hackenberg is just 19. He has firm command of the huddle and the ultimate level of respect from his peers.

"The mindset when we came on the field was to follow Christian. He is the leader of the offense, and we know he can make big plays for us," senior Bill Belton said.

It took the Lions one play to move from their own 20-yard line to the Rutgers 27. Hackenberg found Lewis on a slant. Lewis split two Rutgers defensive backs and raced down the sideline in front of the Penn State bench.

"The first one was a high ball on a high slant, and I just made a play on it. I broke a couple tackles and tried to get as many yards as I could," Lewis said.

Three plays later, it appeared as though the Lions had scored a go-ahead touchdown on a pass to Jesse James. But a holding penalty nullified the big play.

Again, never fazed by the circumstances, Hackenberg and the Lions regrouped immediately. On the next play, Hackenberg dropped a ball in between the corner and safety along the Penn State sideline for a 23-yard connection with Lewis.

"We went right back to him. It was a double move. He beat the corner, and the safety was too deep," Hackenberg said. "He made a great catch, and then Bill (Belton) finished it off."

Belton scampered into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown two plays after Lewis hauled in his second crucial catch of the drive.

"The line did a great job on that play clearing everything out of the way," Belton said.

In all, the drive covered 80 yards in 1:49. Hackenberg finished 3-of-4 for 84 yards (due to penalties).

"Obviously, he is a talented guy. When you are getting pressured and sacked as many times as he is getting and the running game is not where we want it to be, it's a lot on his shoulders," head coach James Franklin said. "I think he's handled all of that really well. His poise is steady, and he is a lot more athletic than I think people realize."

Hackenberg played in just his 15th game as a Penn State student-athlete on Saturday night. He directed his fourth comeback win in the fourth quarter or overtime. The sophomore now has seven career 300-yard passing games, which is more than anyone in Penn State history. Additionally, Hackenberg eclipsed 4,000 passing yards with his 309-yard effort at Rutgers.

The numbers speak for themselves, but you can't teach the intangibles No. 14 brings to the field for the Blue and White.

"He is light years ahead of a true sophomore," Franklin said. "To me, you grade quarterbacks on third-down percentage, red zone and wins and losses. The wins and losses are the most important thing, and comeback fourth quarter drives. He's done those things. I'm really, really proud of him."


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VIDEO: Postgame Press Conference at Rutgers

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VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Head into the media room to hear from head coach James Franklin following Saturday night's dramatic 13-10 victory at Rutgers.




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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks at Rutgers

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VIDEO: James Franklin Press Conference

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Hear from several Nittany Lions following Penn State's 13-10 road victory over Rutgers on Saturday night.




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2014 Photo Blog - Penn State at Rutgers

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Lions' Big Ten opener at Rutgers.

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2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Rutgers

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. The Nittany Lions open the Big Ten schedule on the road against Rutgers under the lights.

Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Rutgers
 



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Senior Nittany Lions to Compete Final Spiked Shoe Invitational

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10302695.jpegBy Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's and women's cross country teams will have a chance to check out their regional and ranked rivals on Saturday when the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational kicks off at the Blue-White Golf Courses.

The Spiked Shoe Invitational will bring in a host of competitors in the region, including Pittsburgh (men and women), No. 20 West Virginia (women) and No. 29 Georgetown (men), along with the No. 8 Syracuse men's team and the 13th-ranked Syracuse women's team.

While national championship qualifying doesn't begin until October, the teams are entering this weekend with their notable relentless attitudes led by seniors like Matt Fischer and Abigail Benson, who are anxious to participate in the Spiked Shoe invitational for their final time.

Benson finished eighth last year and is entering this weekend with a new mindset and some new goals.

"I am excited about the competition this weekend. I am definitely in a better mind set this year than last. I believe [coach John] Gondak is an awesome coach and [he is] really taking the time to make us better runners," Benson said. "I believe in his coaching and [I] think this is going to be a good year and now that I am a senior I believe in myself. [I] want to make this year a great one."

Although he sat out last year, this weekend marks Fischer's third and final time running the Spiked Shoe Invitational. At his last Spiked Shoe, Fischer had the highest individual finish and with four-plus years of collegiate running experience under his belt, he is sure to be one of the top competitors of the weekend.

"At this point I know the course in and out really well and I'm going to start it off the right way. We want to go out there and have fun and use this as a confidence booster," said Fischer. "It's a good chance to see where the other teams are at and I'm going to use this as a step to get closer to achieving the goals I have set out for myself and my team."

After a successful weekend at the Dolan Duals, interim head coach John Gondak is excited to see some of the team's top athletes out for the first time this season.

"We will be seeing the full lineup for the first time and I'm excited to see them go up against some top teams and see where they can finish," said Gondak. "I was really impressed with the men's competitive attitude and fight [last weekend]."

There is no doubt that the Nittany Lions will benefit from racing on their home course. Both Benson and Gondak believe that the team will be able to carry a strong advantage from the beginning.

"Knowing the course is really an advantage and can go a long way. Being able to race on the course during the year really helps prepare us for the regional meet," said Gondak.

"If we can all just stay in a pack and work together, I feel that talking to each other and working off each other we can truly do some amazing things," said Benson. "It will be a fast first mile but after that if we pack up and work it, it should be fun."

The women will begin their 6k race at 10 a.m. and the men will run at 10:45 a.m., with a 5.2 mile run.

2014 Gameday Preview - Big Ten Opener at Rutgers

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GAME BLOG - Penn State at Rutgers

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Rutgers Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Rahne Q&A | Player Q&A Video | PSU In The NFL

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (2-0) will begin its 22nd season in the Big Ten on Saturday under the lights at Rutgers (2-0) in the conference's opening game of the 2014 season. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. with television coverage by BTN.

10299450.jpegThe Nittany Lions remained unbeaten with a 21-3 victory over Akron last week in the team's home opener. Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Junior Jesse James also hauled in a pair of touchdown catches to help fuel the Lions.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions were stout for the second-straight week. Through two games, the Lions have allowed just 93 rushing yards on 54 carries (1.7 ypc). Senior linebacker Mike Hull has been the catalyst of the defense. Hull is second in the Big Ten with 22 tackles in the first two games.

This will be the 25th meeting between Penn State and Rutgers. The border foes have not met since 1995 when the two squads clashed in Giants Stadium. Penn State leads the all-time series with Rutgers, 22-2. The two teams met annually from 1982-'95. Now, as members of the East Division, the Lions and Scarlet Knights will play every season.

Led by head coach Kyle Flood, Rutgers enters the week with a 2-0 mark after knocking off Howard (38-25) last week. The Scarlet Knights defeated Washington State (41-38) in Seattle during the opening weekend of the season. Flood is 9-0 as a head coach during the month of September. Rutgers officially became a member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1.

Penn State's Adam Taliaferro and Eric LeGrand of Rutgers, forever linked through horrific spinal cord injuries suffered on the field and their courageous recovery efforts that followed, will serve as honorary game captains on Saturday. Both players will be on the field for the pre-game coin toss.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the trip to Rutgers.

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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10299409.jpeg1. No game is more important to Coach Franklin and the Nittany Lions than the next game on the schedule. The mindset never changes for the Lions. Regardless of the week's news and events or the opponent, focus is solely on preparing to the best of the team's ability leading up to Saturday's game. This week, the coaching staff and players have worked to maximize each day with preparation for the conference opener. Corrections from the Akron game were made on Sunday afternoon. From there, the team has been focused on Rutgers and the challenges it presents on offense, defense and special teams. Coach Franklin said on Tuesday that the big thing he is looking for across the entire depth chart is consistency this week.

2. First and foremost on the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions will be looking to defend the run like they have during the first two weeks. Forcing teams to be one-dimensional on offense is a big point of emphasis every time the Lions step onto the field. Nonetheless, Penn State will be looking to limit the big-play ability of Rutgers. Through two games, the Scarlet Knights have scored 10 touchdowns on offense. Five of the 10 visits to end zone have come on plays of 30 or more yards, including three scores of more than 50 yards. Limiting big plays when the Nittany Lions are on defense is a key area to watch. Last week, the Penn State defense did not allow a running play of more than 13 yards or a passing play of more than 23 yards against Akron.

3. The Nittany Lions enter the third game of the season looking to take better care of the football and force more miscues on defense. Penn State has committed six turnovers and forced just one during the opening two games. Taking care of the football is priority number one for quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the offense. Defensively, Coach Franklin said this week that he is looking for a big play from the defense on Saturday night. The Nittany Lions have done a great job limiting big plays since the season-opener in Ireland, but the defense is searching for a turnover.

What to Watch For - Rutgers
10299404.jpeg1. Energy will be high inside High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday night. The Scarlet Knights have had this date circled, and they will host a raucous sold out crowd in their first Big Ten game. Penn State and Rutgers are separated by 228 miles. There are 15 players on the Penn State roster from New Jersey. All that being said, there is a regional component to Saturday's matchup between the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights. Like any other game, though, this contest counts for just one victory for the triumphant group. On the field, the Scarlet Knights are 15-2 when they score 20 or more points under head coach Kyle Flood.

2. Senior quarterback Gary Nova headlines a veteran group of offensive players for Rutgers. Nova has started 30 games for the Scarlet Knights, and he enters the weekend playing with great confidence. Nova is the Big Ten's leader in pass efficiency (208.9) after opening the season with six touchdowns and just one interception. Junior Leonte Carroo is Nova's primary big-play target in the passing game. Carroo has two touchdown catches this season, both of which coming on plays of more than 35 yards or more. In his career, Carroo has 10 scores of 60 yards or longer. Junior running back Paul James spearheads the rushing attack. James enters week three with 216 yards and four touchdowns. The Scarlet Knights return all five offensive line starters from 2013.

3. Sophomore linebacker Steve Longa is the top tackler on the Rutgers defense. Longa has 15 stops this season. Redshirt freshman Komoko Turay leads the unit with 3.5 sacks during the first two weeks of the season. As a group, Rutgers has allowed 31.5 points per game and 482.5 yards per contest, but the Scarlet Knights have averaged two turnovers forced during the first two games of the season.


The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions will play their 19th night game during the past 10 seasons on Saturday at Rugers. Penn State has played in at least one primetime game in each of the past 15 seasons. In 2014, the Nittany Lions will play three night games, including two on the road. The Lions last played to night games on the road in 2008 when they met Wisconsin and Ohio State under the lights away from Beaver Stadium. In a series that began in 1918, Penn State and Rutgers have met just three times on the Rutgers campus. The Nittany Lions have traveled to New Jersey to meet Rutgers nine times, with six of those games coming at Giants Stadium, including the most recent meeting in 1995. Penn State has not played on the Rutgers campus since 1955. Kickoff is slated for just after 8 p.m. on Saturday inside a sold out High Point Solutions Stadium.



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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While starting every game for the Nittany Lions' women's soccer team and excelling in Penn State's architectural engineering program, Kori Chapic shines both on and off the field. 

Last season, Chapic punched in the third most minutes on the field and continues to put in hard work and dedication as the 2014 season rolls. Her excellence comes as no surprise. Chapic earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in both 2012 and 2013.

Kori Chapic is the all-around definition of leadership.

"Architectural engineering is a passion of mine," she said. "When you have something that is a passion of yours, like soccer, it seems less of a job and more of something you do for fun. It's a lot easier dedicating the time and managing it because you enjoy it and want to be involved."

Not only is Chapic a serious student and tremendous athlete, but she is also a member of a few leadership programs on campus. Chapic is one of 30 students in her class who were selected to the Presidential Leadership Academy and
 is also involved in the Athletic Director's Leadership Institute, or commonly known as ADLI.

"I just love staying active," said Chapic. "I want to make use of everything this school has to offer since Penn State is full of opportunity."

Staying committed and continuing to better herself on and off the field, Chapic stepped up and became a role model on the team for her senior season.

"Kori is the ideal student athlete," said head coach Erica Walsh. "She
's grown both technically and tactically the last few seasons. But most importantly, she has grown as a leader on this team."

Chapic moved from Russell, Ohio to become a Lion. However, her passion for Penn State is rooted back to when she was a little girl.

She explained how she fell in love with Happy Valley when she was younger and on a college visit for one of her two older sisters. When it was Kori
's turn to find her school, she noted that both Penn State's amazing engineering program and highly competitive soccer program won her over.

"I was told when it
's the right field and the right team you'll know. I fell in love with the school as soon as I stepped foot on it," said Chapic.

Playing alongside Chapic is one of her best friends, and roommate, classmate
 Kindrah Kohne. 

"Since freshman year, she has always been my sounding board for anything going good or bad in my life," Kohne said. "It's fun always having her around."

Competing the last four years together has led the pair to become extremely close. The two have been a part of the women
's soccer team since their freshman year and continue to put as much effort into their schooling as they do soccer.

"We both are each other's motivation factors," Chapic said. "When I see her working so hard in the classroom, it makes me want to be better. I look up to her as a person and as a friend."

Known as one of the hardest workers on the team, Chapic works through any challenge that comes her way. Chapic handles everything that is thrown her way with ease and determination. 

Walsh stated that
 Chapic is essential to the team because of her mental strength to not only accept any challenge, but to conquer it, as well.

Chapic and the other Nittany Lions are prepared and excited to go back on the road for this weekend's
 matches at Purdue and Indiana.

It
's Chapic's motivation for success that keeps the Lions doing their best, reminding them to embrace every challenge thrown their way.

"Part of what keeps me motivated is this team," she said. "It
's about having a great team and great chemistry. We're a family that sets expectations for each other and we want the best for one another."