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What's in a
name? The age-old question makes an attempt to understand what someone's name
means and how it defines them.
Honors College student Maya Evanitsky is taking a unique approach to answering
that question. Evanitsky, Dr. George Perry and a team of undergraduate students
will research and compare the "original" Nittany Lion's DNA sequence in
comparison to other ancient and current lion populations in the United States.
"original" Nittany Lion that inspired the beloved Penn State icon is a brush
lion that was killed in 1856 by farmer Samuel E. Brush. Now extinct, the brush
[Nittany] represents more than just Penn State's mascot; it is a small piece of
Central Pennsylvania's history.
Sequencing the Nittany Lion Genome
and Dr. Perry opened the "original" Nittany Lion's showcase for the first time
on April 13, 2015 to begin the first phase of her research, carefully removing
a DNA sample from the lion's leg.
hoping to get DNA from that," said Evanitsky. "The ultimate goal is to sequence
the DNA and compare that to DNA sequences in genes of populations of current
mountain lions. We're hoping to compare how diverse the species has become and
how much they've differentiated over time."
The "Original" Nittany Lion's Preservation
the word "hoping" because this lion has gone through two restorations since its
original stuffing of tow. The first restoration took place in 1934 followed by
the next in 1992, where various substitutions had to be made to preserve the natural
look of the lion using resources like deer fur and polyethylene.
nearly 40 years in the basement of the Carnegie Museum, the lion was displayed
in various locations including the St. Louis World's Fair, Chicago World's Fair
and the William Penn Museum prior to permanently moving to Happy Valley.
substitutions make it difficult to remove an authentic sample, but Evanitsky is
confident that hers is authentic.
Ancient DNA laboratory at University Park, the junior biochemistry and
molecular biology major and her team will compare the DNA from her sample with
various other ancient lion samples including mountain lions that currently alive
in the western US and Florida.
samples and local displays in the region are located at the Lycoming County
Historical Society and Taber Museum as well as the Ecology Lab in Science Hall
at Albright College.
development in ancient DNA methods has made 2015 the right year for this research
technology and ancient DNA methods have improved so much that our chance of
success is a lot higher than it would have been in the past," explained Dr.
Perry. "There are important things that we can learn from studying things that
How You Can Help
Lion and Mount Nittany are just two of many symbols of Penn State that are near
and dear to every Penn Stater's heart. Evanitsky, Dr. Perry, and their team look
to find out what could have happened to the beloved Nittany Lion.
important science project but there's also the conservation outreach
opportunity, the engagement with the community, sports fans of the university
as well as alumni, and undergraduates are involved in the research," explained
plans to have all of her samples sequenced by fall 2015 in which she will spend
the semester writing her thesis on her findings.
more on the project or to donate, click here.
Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student
No. 8 team in the country visiting Medlar Field at Lubrano Park this weekend
and after a 10-1 setback in the series' first game, Penn State battled and
nearly came up with an upset victory over the team with the conference's best
coach Rob Cooper hasn't backed away from the fact that he wants his team to win
games, he knows that Saturday's 15-inning 4-2 loss and Sunday's 6-3 loss are
games with a few takeaway points to build on moving forward.
our guys competed and battled," Cooper said. "When you're trying to build a
program you look for things like that. Illinois is a team that's probably going
to host a regional and be a national seed."
Penn State took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning after seven shutout innings
from freshman Taylor Lehman. With the Nittany Lions just six outs away from the
result, the Illini bats came alive to take a 2-1 lead. Then, just as the upset
seemed out of reach, Penn State came right back and tied the game in the ninth
on a Taylor Skerpon RBI double.
six extra innings, the Illini broke through to take the lead in the top of the
final inning to get the win. Cooper noted how his team battled in the series'
final two-games are what he wants to see.
"For us to
have a chance to win Saturday and be in that game all day today like we did it
shows that our guys won't quit and we're building toward the right things," he
toward the right things, freshmen are going to be a big part of that. While the
Nittany Lions have a strong group of upperclassmen, younger players are now
working into becoming key parts of the Penn State lineup.
freshman catcher Nick Graham, caught the eye of his upperclassmen teammates
after going 3-for-6 with two runs scored between the final two games of the
great," redshirt junior Greg Guers said. "Their pitching staff is pretty good
and he battled all day and had two doubles and did a great job behind the plate
too. It was great seeing him have success against one of the top pitching
a freshman too and he's came a long way since the beginning of the year and has
been putting some great at bats together," senior Aaron Novak said.
agreed that the play of Graham and a few other freshmen namely those in the
pitching staff or bullpen has been promising, but the team as a whole still has
a few areas they need to clean up.
which is limiting free bases for opponents.
"We have to
clean up some things as far as playing the games," Cooper said. "We walked or
hit nine guys and even though none of them scored, after the seventh inning we
had thrown 142 pitches and they had thrown 97. You're working almost twice as
hard just to stay in the game."
even though the team was hitting the ball hard Saturday and Sunday, Cooper
still knows his team has the ability to come up with runs with runners on.
"We have to
find a way to break through with runners in scoring position," Cooper said. "We
hit the ball on the nose but had nothing to show for it. With bases loaded
Jimmy Haley hit the ball on the screws, but we have to find a way to push one
of those through."
three Big Ten series remaining, Cooper said his team could have given up on the
season, but it's clear they have not. Novak noted there was never a point in
the weekend where he and his teammates thought they were not in the game, even
against a stout Illini club.
just trying to keep our heads up," Novak said. "We are just trying to finish as
strong as possible and we are confident in our abilities that hasn't changed so
we are going to play until the end."
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- This weekend was full of plenty of
action at Beard field as the Penn State softball team dominated Rutgers
for the first Big Ten three-game sweep of the season
To open up the weekend, the Nittany Lions
secured a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth with junior Shannon Good's first
career home run. Good was one of five Penn Staters to make a presence at bat
during the first game of the series.
"I think this series was good for the
team, Rutgers is highly respected team and when playing a team like them we
have to always show we're willing to fight for the win," said head coach Amanda Lehotak.
The team honored three seniors before the
start of Saturday's game, Meghan Bradley, Marissa Diescher and Alicia Walker.
Jessica Cummings, who was the team's star
pitcher Friday night, continued to throw a great game on Saturday. She pitched
the first five innings, then teammate Macy Jones close the game on the mound. Despite the Scarlet Knights getting on
the board in the first inning, the Lions brought their batting game and ended
the game with a 12-6 victory.
Freshman Alyssa VanDerveer lead the
charge offensively with her 13th home run of the season and drove in three
additional runs to help the Nittany Lions take the win.
"Rally innings are a huge part of our
game, every time I get a hit I know I'm helping my team win," said VanDerveer.
Coming off of another victory over the
Scarlet Knights, the Blue and White entered the third and final game hungry for
Rutgers got on the board early and
finished the first inning with two runs and four hits. After four innings, both
teams remained scoreless until the Scarlet Knights widened the lead with a
single home run by Sierra Maddox in the top of the sixth. Despite being three behind Rutgers,
PSU entered the bottom of the seventh inning determined to fight.
At the top of the batting lineup, Jones
singled and VanDerveer walked, however due to an illegal pitch both Jones and
pinch runner Maegan Tupinio advanced to second and third. Pond stepped up to
the plate and homered to right field, making the game tied 3-3 and giving the
Lions back life in the game. Pitcher Marlaina Laubach prevented the
Scarlet Knights from scoring in the eighth and ninth inning as the rest of
defense made sure to stop any ball that came its' way.
Going into extra innings, Penn State and
Rutgers remained tied until Knief singled to centerfield to send Walker home to
finish the game and complete the sweep.
"Although we were behind, we never gave
up. We pride ourselves on being a team that fights until the end and that's
what gave us the win today," said
The Nittany Lions are 27-24 overall and
are 9-11 in Big Ten play. This weekend also marks the team's 11th home victory
of the season, the most since 2012.
"This series gave us some confidence I
think we needed as we prepare for Pitt and Michigan," said coach Lehotak.
Although the Blue and White are done with
home games this season, the team will travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday for a mid-week
matchup. This will be the second time Lehotak and the team will face the
Panthers this season. The first pitch is to be thrown at 6 p.m. After
Pitt, the team will take on the last regular season series against No. 4
Michigan in Ann Arbor for a three-game weekend. The first of the series is set
to begin at 6 p.m. Friday night.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Pa. - A strong contingency of Blue and White fans witnessed history Saturday
afternoon at DeGol Arena as the Nittany Lions defeated St. Francis in straight
sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-22) in their final match of the regular season to give
Mark Pavlik his 500th career victory.
Pavlik, who is in
his 21st season as head coach of the men's volleyball program,
embodies everything that Penn State stands for academically and athletically.
His love of teaching and respect for others reflects the true heart of a
"In those 500 wins
I have not served a ball in the court," Pavlik said. "I have not put a ball
away. I have not set a ball. I just happened to be here that long to see it.
More than anything else, I think it speaks to the true foundation that Tom Tait
laid for this program back in the late 70s. We've been able to represent the
university and the athletic department, not only with our current teams, but
also with our alums."
It was a fitting
end for No. 7 Penn State (18-9, 12-0 EIVA) over St. Francis (6-20, 4-8 EIVA). Immediately
after senior outside hitter Aaron Russell earned the final point of match, the
entire team rushed to Pavlik and paraded him with silly string and a
win is a lot of proof to what he's done for the program and the experience that
he has," Russell said. "What a great coach he is. He's coached a lot of good
players, and he's given a lot to me and my family. It's nice to be able to play
for him, and his 500th win to be able to give something back to him."
Under the tutelage
of Pavlik, the Nittany Lions have gone from losing their first six matches of
the 2015 campaign to finishing the regular season on a 14-match winning streak.
Even further, the
program is now a perfect 36-0 all-time versus the Red Flash, having dropped
just seven sets ever against the university just down the road from University
Park in Loretto.
"It's not something
that [Pavlik] shows a lot, but you know it really means something to him,"
middle blocker Matt Seifert said. "To be able to get it on the last regular
season match of the year, and to be able to celebrate with him the way we did,
it's just special. I'll remember this with him for as long as I play."
The Blue and White utilized
experience to slip past the Red Flash. Sixteen kills from Russell, nine kills
from redshirt senior Nick Goodell, 34 assists from setter Taylor Hammond, and
11 digs from libero Connor Curry paced Penn State. Sophomore outside hitter Chris
Nugent added five more kills and Seifert and Matt Callaway each had four kills to
balance out the Nittany Lions.
Penn State had
already clinched its 17th straight EIVA regular season title two
weeks ago after wins over Harvard and Sacred Heart. That means the Nittany
Lions will once again have the top seed and home court advantage for the EIVA
Championship coming up on April 29 and May 1 at Rec Hall.
"Just keep things
rolling," Russell said. "I think we're doing a good job now. We're going to
turn it up more in practice knowing what's at stake. You can always see a
difference between playoff play and regular season play, in our mindset even.
I'm just looking forward to the focus and the fun we're going to have competing
on the court. I'm looking forward to the postseason."
With George Mason
topping Princeton and NJIT this past weekend, the Nittany Lions will face
Princeton to open the EIVA Semifinals on April 29. First serve set for 7:30
p.m. at Rec Hall.
"There's three different
seasons, and now that two of them are in the books, the most exciting one
starts," Seifert said. "It's business for us. Getting the first seed and
winning the regular season conference title is something that we've done many
times while I've been here and many times before I've been here. It's the same
type of approach. It's all business, and we have a couple more goals that we
want to accomplish before we're done this year."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
ANN ARBOR, MI. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team (5-8, 2-3 Big Ten)
secured a playoff spot after defeating Michigan (5-8, 1-4 Big Ten), 10-9, on
Saturday. Penn State will be the No. 4 seed in the inaugural Big Ten Lacrosse Tournament.
The Nittany Lions came out strong offensively during their matchup
against the Wolverines. Nick Aponte and TJ Sanders led the team in goals,
netting three apiece to add to Penn State's dominant offensive start against
"I think in the offensive end Nick Aponte did a great job just managing
our attack, managing our offense once again, so that was a bright spot for us,"
said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You know when we were lacking a little
creativity and a little ability to run by [Michigan] early, he was the one guy who
stood out and made the plays. I think the other side of it is it was nice to be
in a close game and learn how to win."
Associate head coach and defensive coordinator Peter Toner had said
earlier in the week that his goal for the defense was to begin the game strong
and not give up early goals, as they had in weeks past. Head coach Jeff
Tambroni believed the defense was able to get their best start of the season,
holding off any Wolverine goals until the second quarter.
"I thought [the defense] played really well for two and a half
quarters," said Tambroni. "I thought the first half, Connor [Darcey] was
playing well but I also thought that our defense was playing really well. I
thought we managed two or three sizeable threats in the offense and I thought
our guys did a pretty good job of managing possession time and did a pretty
good job at limiting quality looks."
During the second half, Michigan mounted a comeback. The Wolverines were
also fighting for the fourth Big Ten tournament spot, and were determined to
not give up a postseason spot so easily. It was up to the Nittany Lion defense
to stave off the relentless Wolverines and hold on for a win.
"I thought late in the third, early in the fourth, Michigan made a run," said
Tambroni. "They were winning more than their fair share of face offs and I
think we ended up having two or three possessions in the fourth quarter
offensively. The good thing is not only did we get off to a good start but we
found a way at the end to just doing us to walk away from Ann Arbor with a
Penn State's defense was able to hold off Michigan's attack men and come out
with a 10-9 win. This win validated the last few weeks of hard work the team
has put in during long practices.
The Nittany Lions, the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament, will face
No. 1 Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten) on Thursday in the first round. All Big
Ten tournament games will be held on the campus of Maryland in College Park.
"I think just being fresh is going to be the most important thing right
now," said Tambroni. "It's been a long season, a lot of travel, and the premium
will be having a fresh team walk on to the field on Thursday."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff WriterUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Big Ten title on the line, the Penn
State women's lacrosse team prepared to go up against an undefeated Maryland
team. The Nittany Lions knew they were in for a challenge, but they would not
go down without a fight.
Following a slow start, the Blue and White returned to the field for the final
30 minutes of play trailing the No. 1 Terrapins, 8-3. Unfortunately, after a
tough battle and hard-fought second half, Penn State suffered its first
conference loss of the season. Despite outscoring the Terrapins in the final
minutes, the No. 8 Nittany Lions (12-4, 4-1 B1G) fell to No. 1 Maryland (17-0,
5-0 B1G), 13-10.
"I thought it was a good game," said head coach Missy Doherty. "We came out,
and the first half was really tough. We couldn't manage to get the draw. That
made it hard to get any goals. So, I think in the second half we did a much
better job of getting the draw, and turning the game around."
The Nittany Lions came out as a different, more aggressive and determined squad
in the final half. They worked to swing momentum in their favor. The team could
not find a way to win the draw in the opening 30 minutes but was determined to
make a change. It knew possession would be key to winning the game.
Leading the way for the Nittany Lions in that aspect of the match was junior
Jenna Mosketti. She secured six draw controls alone, helping the team win the
draw in eight of the second half's 13 attempts.
"I don't know if it was as much words as it was just a better effort there in the
second half," said Doherty. "I mean Jenna came up really big, coming up with
some huge draw controls in the second half. She really helped us change the
momentum around. Then the offense got a little bit more aggressive going to
goal and finishing their shots."
In addition to the draw, Mosketti registered a hat trick, assisting her team in
as many ways possible. Sophomore Steph Lazo also recorded three goals, and
captain Maggie McCormick continued building on her assists record, adding five
more to her total.
Throughout the game, the Nittany Lions saw goals from six players, as Madison
Cyr, Katie O'Donnell, Tatum Coffey and Ally Heavens all added goals of their
own. Nevertheless, the Blue and White were unable to capitalize from the free
position, which ultimately hurt them in the end.
Also taking away from the team's momentum was an injury to goalie Emi Smith.
The junior played the first 42:34 of the game, allowing nine goals and stopping
seven attempts before being helped off the field. Freshman McKenna Coyle
stepped into the cage for the final 17:26. She made three saves and allowed
four, giving a strong performance as well.
"I think McKenna came in and did a really solid job for us," Doherty said. "I
think from a motivational standpoint, it hurts a little when someone like Emi
leaves the game. But, thankfully McKenna came in and stepped up and came up
with some pretty big saves."
Overall, the Nittany Lions' performance showed that they can play with the best
in the country. The loss gives them the opportunity to learn from their
mistakes. Had they come out a little stronger, not putting themselves into such
a deficit, the outcome could have been different.
Penn State may not have captured the Big Ten title yesterday, but they know
they have the ability to beat a team like Maryland. That confidence will be
huge in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, which will be the team's next
"I think we've seen that we can compete, and we have to do that for 60
minutes," said Doherty. "We had a little bit of a slow start, and against a
team like that you need every advantage. But, I think the way we competed for
the full game was awesome. I'm really proud of the team."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - After a strong win on Sunday over Rutgers, Penn State (4-8, 1-3 Big
Ten) looks to finish the regular season on a high note when they take on
Michigan (5-7, 1-3 Big Ten) on Saturday Saturday in Ann Arbor.
by an outstanding performance by the Nittany Lion offense last weekend, Penn
State looks to gain a playoff birth with a win against the Wolverines. The
winner of Saturday's contest will secure the No. 4 spot in the Big Ten
tournament, a spot the Nittany Lions hope to find themselves in.
head coach and defensive coordinator Peter Toner is hoping this game will prove
the final piece to the puzzle that was a trying 2015 regular season. A win
against Michigan and a playoff spot will bring validation to the young group of
men who have worked hard throughout the season.
on where we're at in the Big Ten we have to kind of treat this as a playoff
game," said Toner. "I think at this point I wouldn't say it's do or die but obviously
if we don't win our season probably comes to an end mathematically. For the
guys we're excited about the opportunity to go to Michigan and do what needs to
be done on the field and earn our way into the Big Ten championship series."
State has faced Michigan every season since 2012. The Nittany Lions have won
all three contests in those years, including a dominant 22-7 win to open the
2014 campaign. Despite recent successes, this weekend's game will not be
Nittany Lions, having come back from a two-goal deficit against Rutgers, will
need to come out strong on defense to stay confident in all 60 minutes of play
still have yet to start a game defensively on the right note," said Toner.
"Unfortunately we always seem to go down by a couple and I'm not sure if it's
our guys overthinking or if they're a bit nervous, I don't know, but we keep
working on it during practice. We keep using these scrimmage opportunities and
adding emphasis on the early portion of the scrimmages and hopefully our guys
will just continue to just have a better focus when the game starts."
will be another key for the Nittany Lions this weekend. In previous years the
Nittany Lions have been strong away from University Park, but this year have
been inconsistent on the road. This weekend's matchup, in Michigan's "Big
House," will prove a challenge for a team that needs one final win. The bus
ride will give the players and coaches time to focus and strategize on their
one goal of the weekend: to win.
the season, the team's motto has been "one game at a time." By never getting
ahead of the next game on the calendar, the Nittany Lions focus all of their
energy on one opponent at a time. Coach Toner emphasized that although this has
given the team a new perspective on their season, he does still see room for
improvement even as the season winds down.
think we just got to keep working on us," said Toner. "I think that's the key.
We were talking to our guys last week about just doing what we do, but just
doing it a little bit better. I think a lot of our focus earlier in the year
tended to be on our opponent versus fixing the things that were going on within
our own team."
other area of improvement the team looks to tackle this weekend is possession
time. To start, faceoff specialists like Drake Kreinz will need to win face
offs, it then comes down to Penn State's ability to keep and possess the ball.
of possession in this game is going to be key," said Toner. "It certainly
highlights our ability to clear the ball effectively. To tip the scales a
little bit more in our favor in terms of possession time for our offense and
limited possessions for [Michigan's] offense. The fewer times we have to defend
them the better off we'll be."
every game offers the opportunity for improvement, the little changes that the
Nittany Lions are focusing on this week could be the difference between extending
their season and cleaning out their lockers sooner than they would like.
think this is an exciting opportunity for them and for us, knowing that we can
extend our season with a win and we certainly look forward to the challenge,"
State will face Michigan Saturday in Ann Arbor at 6 p.m. The game will air on
the Big Ten Network.
Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2015 season didn't
quite get off to the start that James Coates wanted it to.
After entering the campaign as Penn State's
expected leadoff hitter and a team leader, the junior outfielder went hitless
in the team's opening series against Elon and pulled his hamstring. By the time
the Lions home schedule started on March. 18, Coates was just 2 for 19 on the
season and fighting to get healthy and earn a spot back in the lineup.
"I had a rough first weekend, I hit the ball
hard but got a few tough outs and then I was injured for a while," Coates said.
"Just trying to fight through the injury but when you don't get to see a lot of
live pitching it's hard to just come in and get hits and that was a big problem
While it was starting to look like a lost year
for Coates, his hamstring healed by the start of April and head coach Rob
Cooper placed him back in the starting lineup. It didn't take long for the
results to start showing.
Since April 7, Coates has hit .316 and worked
his way back to the front of the order. Even with his slow start, the 5-foot-8 outfielder
has a .352 on-base percentage this season and has looked like the player that
hit .287 with a .393 on-base percentage over his first two seasons.
What has led to the drastic improvement?
According to Coates, it's been about receiving consistent playing time and not
being expected to turn things around in just one game.
"For me, it was about getting more at-bats and
seeing more pitches and getting more comfortable in the box," Coates said.
"Just trusting myself is what it comes down to."
For Cooper, the biggest difference between
Coates right now and at the start of the season has simply been his health. The
outfielder first began struggling with his hamstring at the end of last season,
and the second-year coach said the injury was the only thing holding Coates
"He's healthy and has confidence in being
healthy," Cooper said. "He's a guy that really cares about playing for Penn
State and has a lot of pride in himself. Last year he was doing a good job for
us before he got hurt and it ate at him and then to have it early on [this
season], it's like, 'Gosh, is this ever going to heal up'. So one, he's healthy
and two, he's mentally healthy."
Not only does Coates feel better than he has all
season, his presence in the leadoff spot has Penn State's lineup ready to reach
Although Cooper used second baseman Taylor
Skerpon and even power-hitting outfielder Aaron Novak in that spot at times
this year, neither player was a perfect fit there. With Coates sliding back in,
Novak is back at his normal No. 3 spot while Skerpon has gone down to seventh,
where he went 4 for 5 with two RBIs on Tuesday against Kent State.
But Coates hitting leadoff has done more than
just help his teammates succeed. It has also allowed him to do what he does
best, which is work counts, get on base and use his speed to his advantage.
"Unless you're able to watch him play, if look
at look him on paper at his stats you might say, 'Why is this guy leading
off,'" Cooper said. "Even when he doesn't get a hit he finds a way to get on
base and when he is on base, because he can run he generates offense that way.
And him being a leader, being on the field and being able to not just talk and
lead but play and lead helps."
That's part of the reason why Coates enjoys the challenge of starting things
off for the Lions. Not only does he feel it plays to the team's strengths, it
also allows him the opportunity to lead by example.
That chance was once the things that the Girard,
Ohio, native, looked forward to before the start of the season. Although he
tried to remain a leader even when he wasn't playing, being back on the field
has made it much easier.
"I always try to be a leader, that's the role I
want to take on this team," Coates said. "I felt I had a duty to the team and
responsibility to be a leader.
"I like having the leadoff role because for me,
it's about doing anything I possibly can to get on base so the guys behind me
can get me in and see more pitches. It definitely seems to have put our lineup
back in synch."
On Tuesday, Coates put on a leadoff hitting
clinic against the Flashes, going 2 for 4 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs
scored. His ability to come through for his team didn't stop after the final
With Coates' family living less than an hour
from Kent State, his aunt provided the team with two-dozen homemade pepperoni
rolls, which the team enjoyed on the bus ride home.
While he can't promise post-game snacks the rest
of the season, Coates is determined to keep his hot steak going.
"They were a big hit on the bus for sure,"
Coates said with a smile. "Just a one time thing since we were so close to my
home. I come from a big Italian family, we're really big into food, probably a
lot of excess food."
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Pa. - In his 21st season as head coach of the men's volleyball
program, Mark Pavlik is on the brink of his 500th career victory.
After wins over
NJIT and Princeton last weekend, Pavlik now sits in his Rec Hall office with
499 wins under his belt at the helm of Penn State Men's Volleyball heading in
to Saturday's match at Saint Francis.
"It's a nice round
number that people tend to remember," Pavlik said. "You get a chance to look
back on it. If it happens this weekend, I'm glad it happens with this group of
guys. I really enjoy this team. They've been so resilient, so much fun to be
around, and they've worked so hard. It's just a time where you get a chance to
think about what's come before you."
owns a lifetime record at Penn State of 499-151. He has won more than 77
percent of the matches he has coached, a statistic that speaks volumes to the
standard he has set in Happy Valley.
He captured the
2008 NCAA National Championship and has made University Park one of the premier
spots across the country to play Division I men's volleyball. He has helped
Penn State earn 17 straight EIVA Regular Season Championships, EIVA Tournament
Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.
The maestro has
coached 21 different players to 41 All-America awards. Even further, each
season at least three of his student athletes have earned first team
"Any coach will
tell you 500 [wins] is a great accomplishment, but it really means that you've
been doing it for quite awhile with some really great people around him,"
assistant coach Jay Hosack said. "He's been lucky enough to be in a place like
Penn State where they've been very supportive of the program and supportive of
him. The quality of the kids that he gets here, you look at the whole package,
and that's really what that means."
For Pavlik, winning
has always been important, but what he takes pride in is the way in which he
develops his players into well-rounded student athletes who positively impact
both the program athletically and the university academically and socially.
"I think Pav will
tell you that the 500 wins belong to the players, and he's just happy to be a
part of all the great players that have come through that have provided him
with the opportunity," assistant coach Colin McMillan. "He's been a great
shepherd and steward for the program throughout his 21 years as head coach."
sealed the top spot atop the EIVA standings, the Nittany Lions will host the
EIVA Tournament for 17th straight season under Pavlik. Garnering
home court advantage is an area that Pavlik understands is integral to the
success of his team in the postseason.
"It's huge," Pavlik
said. "You look at our history, and I think our guys, over the course of all
the EIVA Championships that have been hosted by us, we've been able to stay in
our routine and embrace the pressure that's on us to win these matches. They've
done that really well. This year, with the other three teams involved, we're
going to have two tough matches to play, and we're going to have to be ready
for them. That's the beauty of hosting."
The Nittany Lions
will look to not only help get Pavlik his milestone victory, but also close out
their regular season a perfect 12-0 in EIVA Conference play when they travel to
Loretto to meet Saint Francis at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
"The way we've been
playing, we've shown that we can play a pretty high level game, and we're
playing for a longer and longer period of time during a match, and I just want
that to continue," Pavlik said. "Let's keep building. Let's keep getting
stronger because after this weekend, their season can end in one match, and I'd
like to stay with this group for as long as I can."
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Embarking on yet another stepping stone toward a
championship, Penn State track and field is headed to Philadelphia to compete in the Penn Relays Carnival.
Unlike any other meet, the Penn Relays is the oldest, largest track meet
in the country celebrating its 121st year this weekend and with over
15,000 athletes, of all levels, from around the country competing in over 120
events, the Nittany Lions have a big three days ahead.
"I don't think it's that you prepare any differently. I think it's that
you have to respect and understand what the history and the tradition of the
Penn Relays are. It's one of the oldest track meets in the country. Right now,
if you get a sunny day, from the attendance stand point it will be one of the
largest attended track meets in the country," said head coach John Gondak.
With its long-established tradition, the Penn Relays has bred more than
just another exciting meet weekend. The carnival-style display has sparked
careers, dreams, and motives.
"There have been so many Olympians and champions whether it's at the
high school, college, or professional level that have competed at the Franklin
Field. It's a very hallowed ground of our sport," said Gondak. "It's the track
meet I attended that got me into the sport back when I attended in the 10th
grade and it has been, in my opinion, what launched my career."
"Although the Penn Relays are
hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, at Penn State we still take pride in
having one of the largest track and field meets in the country being held in our
home state. [There is] pride that is involved with [being a part of] the blue
and white...Talking about the history we are involved in gives you a little bit
of added motivation and a different type of respect for the meet," said Hill,
"It's always really exciting to get into the Philly area and compete.
It's exciting to have my parents come out and support me. I know the facilities
and some of the officials...and it's the Penn Relays. It's always exciting to go
To add to the motivation, Penn State is entering this weekend as the
sole owner of the men's 4x800-meter relay record time of 7:11.17 for the 30th
"It's an incredible sense of pride for our alumni, those that ran in
that relay and the program in general. It's talked about at every alumni
gathering and event," said Gondak. "Records are out there in an attempt to be
broken but it has been 30 years and no one has broken this one. It's something
that I know is in the back of our minds for our team to go out there and try to
Returning shot put champion, Hill knows very well the excitement that
comes with big accomplishments but notes that the most important part is to
focus on the now.
"You have to stay focused on the task. It goes on for a few days but the
excitement about it helps you soak in the atmosphere and use [it] to your
advantage. You have to be focused on the goal," said Hill. "I understand that it's
a new year. I won last year, which was cool but it's a new feel and a lot of
good competition so it's going to take a good day to repeat a championship. I'm
prepared and that's the goal but I understand that it's going to take [a lot].
I can't underestimate anybody."
The most exciting weekend of the year begins Thursday, April 23 and
lasts through Saturday, April 25th.