By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Putting your name in the history books at Penn State is no easy feat. It takes hard work, dedication, desire and a work ethic that goes above and beyond what is expected of college athletes.
To leave behind an impression as powerful as the one Mackenzie Cyr leaves Penn State Lacrosse, well, that takes a work ethic very few have had.
Cyr will play her last game in front of the home crowd on Saturday. She will receive her blanket, her flowers, and a big hug from the coaching staff. It will be a highly-emotional moment for everyone involved, but it's just a singular moment from an amazing career.
"It's going to be bittersweet," Cyr said. "It's going to be sad that it's ending, but I'm ready to go out with a bang and beat Princeton because we haven't beat them yet. So I'm ready to do that."
For the last four years, No. 15 has been solid, to say the least. She has been as reliable as any attacker in the country and she has grown into one of the best attackers in the country. Her sense for her teammates and the game is terrific, and her ability to see a play develop steps ahead of the girls defending her has always given her an edge.
She has finished second on the team in points in each of the last three years, including 2010 when she lead the team as a freshman in assists. The Westminster, Md., native has seen it all over her career, and she has been successful in her own style.
It is no surprise she was named a captain this season, because Cyr is constantly setting a tone for her teammates. She works tremendously hard at practice, and has always sought more from her fellow Nittany Lions in all aspects of their game. You never see her complaining about a call, or getting frustrated on the field. She just lowers her head, and keeps moving forward, as she has done her whole career.
After putting together a three-assist performance against Johns Hopkins, Cyr currently ranks third in program-history with 102 career assists, an ode to that work ethic. It seems as if every time she has the ball in her stick, she just seems to know where she wants it to go and she is going to do everything in her power to get it there.
"I had no idea I even had that many until they announced it at the game," she said with a laugh, "but it's pretty exciting, good accomplishment. It's just exciting. It's a great accolade to have."
Cyr's successes on the lacrosse field are sure to continue. Against the Princeton Tigers, the senior has five career points and always plays them well. This season, her 21 assists are tied for the team-high and rank her third in the American Lacrosse Conference. Her 34 points on the season are the third highest on the team, and she has done it only 29 shots, the lowest of any player with 24 points or more.
Cyr has been the example for players like her younger sister, Madison, and Maggie McCormick. She has helped countless Nittany Lions develop into stellar players, and she has helped Missy Doherty build this program into a national championship contender.
As she prepared to take the practice field, in a humbled voice she spoke of her legacy: "I just hope to leave some sort of impact on the program."
Well, Mackenzie Cyr has done just that.
For one last time, after a fantastic career, Cyr will take the Penn State Lacrosse Field. Game time is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday.
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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the players, coaches, and all followers of Penn State men's volleyball, the most exciting time of the year is finally here as the EIVA championship begins. The coaches and players have spent countless hours training for and thinking about the end of the season.
Starting with the semifinals of the EIVA Tournament on Thursday, the Nittany Lions played in four matches to win against George Mason 3-1 (25-27, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22). Although the team got off to a slow start losing the first set, it did not let that determine the outcome of the rest of the night as they relied on their competitive edge.
"We were getting in our own way," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "The toughest match to win is the one you are supposed to. The good news is the league is getting more and more competitive. That was a fun match to play, it was a great competitive match. The emotions were high because there were some things on the line that Mason wanted to take away from us. I had great faith that these guys would settle into their game and that's exactly what happened."
Late in the second set, the Nittany Lions broke away from the Patriots and jumped out to a 9-3 lead. The experience of the Nittany Lion starters allowed the team to come together as one unit and walk away with a win in the semi-final round of the EIVA Championships.
"It's just been there, done that kind of thing," senior Peter Russell said. "It's hard to step on a college court with all eyes on you when it actually counts for something. Sometimes guys can get a little flustered with that. Having that experience and getting to go out these past few years definitely helps. Six of our seven starters were here last year. The experience was saying let's just play our game and we're going to be okay," Peter Russell said.
The match came down to the fourth set where it was a back and forth battle. The set was tied up 23-23 before Penn State closed out the night. It wasn't until Aaron Russell made the final kill that the Nittany Lions knew they were going to advance to the EIVA final.
The Nittany Lions will play against No. 2 Princeton on Saturday. The battle between the two Ivy league schools left Princeton defeating Harvard winning 3-1. Going into Saturday night, the Penn State vs. Princeton record is 1-1 for regular season matches this year.
"Princeton came in and took advantage of Harvard being off two and a half weeks. It looked like they were a little rusty in games two and three. We're going to see the two best liberos in the league battling it out. It's going to be a fun match. I know Princeton is going to be ready to play and if I know these guys, they're going to be ready," Pavlik said.
The Nittany Lions lost on the road 3-2 at the end of February against Princeton, but won a month later at home 3-0. The two teams will compete in Rec Hall at 7 p.m. this Saturday in the EIVA title match.
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State baseball team travels to Minneapolis to take on
Minnesota in an important three-game series in the Big Ten standings. We caught
up with head coach Rob Cooper and senior outfielder Steve Snyder to talk about
the upcoming series against the Gophers at Siebert Field.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball is 37 games into the season and outfielder Steve Snyder doesn't want to change anything about his final season in the blue and white. And why would he?
The Westchester, Pa. native is hitting .350 with an on-base percentage of .433. Along with those stats, his 49 hits and 13 steals all sit among the top 10 in the Big Ten.
Snyder said prior to the 2014 season he and the new Penn State coaches established an approach for him at the top of the Nittany Lion lineup and to date, it's safe to say it has worked. Now, as he and his Penn State team are chasing a Big Ten playoff berth, Snyder is working to stay on the hot streak he has been on all season long.
"It's was just establishing an approach, sticking to it and not trying to do too much at the plate," he said. "Sometimes when you are having success you try to do too much and I think right now I'm trying to just stick to what I've been doing."
Head coach Rob Cooper told Snyder before the season started the key for him to have a productive senior campaign at the dish was to simplify his at bats.
That simple tip has helped Snyder to his monster numbers with just four weeks remaining in the regular season.
"Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself and I feel like with his [Cooper's] mindset he takes away the pressure and I'm just trying to do what I know I can do," Synder said.
As the leadoff hitter in the Penn State lineup, Snyder's approach and ability to get on base has carried over to his teammates who have moved him over exceptionally when leading off innings.
Snyder has reached base 13 times in his last eight games and fellow outfielder James Coates said that sets the tone for him and the rest of the Nittany Lion lineup.
"He's been a table setter all season for us," Coates said. "We have so much confidence in him when he's at bat hitting first every game. You have a lot of confidence that he is going to get on no matter what and if he doesn't he will pick us up in the field or in his next at bat.
We feel comfortable with him [Synder] leading off and starting the innings off."
Additionally, Snyder's overall approach to the game has been noticed by Coates and the younger Penn State players throughout the 2014 season, as Snyder has established himself as a leader of the Nittany Lions.
"The biggest thing for me with Steve is his entire approach to the game this season," Coates said. "He does a great job at taking it one bat at a time and since I hit behind him I learn a lot from him watching his at bats."
For Snyder, it's a satisfying fifth season wearing the blue and white - he lost the 2011 season due to injury - and he has become a leader both in the dugout and on the stat sheet.
"It's feels great," he said. "It's my last year so you always want to go out with a good year. It's a good feeling and I just want to help us to continue and have success."
However, at the end of the day, he doesn't pay much attention to the numbers, outside of the number of wins and losses.
"I'm old," Snyder said. "I don't really look at conference statistics or where I am ranking in the Big Ten that much. It's my last year so I just want to win. That's about it."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While falling to Ohio State in both games of Wednesday night's doubleheader was not the desired outcome for the Nittany Lions, the team continues to excel and improve in one specific and very important area: pitching.
Penn State (14-28, 5-12 B1G) dropped the first game of the series against the Buckeyes (22-23, 8-9 B1G) by a final score of 3-1 and finished the night with a 3-0 loss in game two.
"I think both pitchers pitched good enough to win," said head coach Amanda Lehotak following the performances of freshman Marlaina Laubach and sophomore Macy Jones. "Marlaina again was very aggressive and attacked, and I thought Macy was the same way. She attacked the whole time and went right after the hitters. I was very happy with our pitching today."
Laubach made her appearance in game one, pitching a complete game. Throughout the entirety of her time in the circle, the right-hander threw a total of 88 pitches and allowed only three runs on seven hits.
Just as Laubach, Jones also went the distance in game two against Ohio State. The Virginia native threw 51 strikes during the game, accumulating three strikeouts and allowing only three runs.
"I think me and Marlaina did a really good job," Jones said. "We did give up three runs each, but with a big hitting team like that I think that's good. We hit our spots and were moving the ball like we're supposed to."
Since the start of the season, the Penn State pitching staff, which is led by both Laubach and Jones, has drastically improved. These developments have added to both the competitive nature and overall confidence of the team.
"I'm very proud of our pitching staff," said Lehotak. "They've come a long way. They're competing, and they're pitching the best they have all year right now."
Nevertheless, solid performances in the circle must also be accompanied by offensive production, which the Lions struggled with during the doubleheader. The Blue and White turned in eight hits in the first game, but only managed to record three hits during the second.
"First game, we had a lot of runners on base," Lehotak said. "We just could not get the big hit. It was just one of those games where we had opportunities, but we just couldn't punch one through. Game two we were just very uncharacteristic. Very rarely do we ever have nine strikeouts in a game. We weren't attacking early, and when we were attacking, we were going after pitches that were not good pitches to attack. We had a really hard time getting momentum, and I think we got frustrated. We just couldn't get out of it."
"Our offense just wasn't there today," added Jones. "We weren't putting hits together. We were having good at-bats, but when we needed the big hit, we just didn't come up with it."
With both positive and negative takeaways from its games against the Buckeyes, Penn State will regroup and prepare for its next Big Ten matchup against No. 12 Minnesota. The series will open with Friday evening's game one, which is set to begin at 7 p.m.
"The main focus is keeping the ball on the ground when we're hitting, putting the ball in play, and just working the counts with the pitchers," said Jones with regards to upcoming series. "Defensively, our pitchers just need to keep doing what they're doing."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- After 266 days, excited is probably too tame of a word to describe how Phil Davis will be feeling on Saturday.
When he steps inside the octagon opposite of Anthony Johnson on Saturday night, that is how long it will have been since the former Penn State wrestling national champion and current UFC light heavyweight contender will have appeared in a fight.
Despite not having been in the cage since a tightly contested victory over Lyoto Machida on Aug. 3, 2013, Davis is feeling anything but rusty. In fact, the no. 4 ranked light heavyweight apologized to fans expecting a close match.
"It's going to be a good fight but it's not going to be competitive," Davis said. "I'm going to win."
Entering Saturday's night's match with a 12-1 career record that dates back to 2009, the near nine-month wait isn't the first time Davis has had a long layoff between fights, with his longest having been just over 10 months (307 days) between March 26, 2011 and Jan. 28. 2012.
It's not as if Davis has simply been enjoying the down time since defeating Machida. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound fighter has been training non-stop in the gym, even making a visit to Penn State on Nov. 7 where he worked out with the team and even grappled with now two-time national champion David Taylor.
Going up against an opponent in Johnson who has most recently been competing in the World Series of Fighting since his last UFC appearance in 2012, Davis dismissed the notion that the time away from the cage would affect either fighter.
"(The layoff) doesn't really matter because I stay pretty busy in the gym," Davis said. "I've been able to focus on getting better with everything."
In a sport that involves the combination of both striking and wrestling techniques, Davis's background as a four time All-American wrestler with 116 career college wins gives him a clear advantage over many of his opponents because of his takedown skills and prowess on the mat.
Johnson, a former Junior College national champion out of Lassen College, takes a much different approach to mixed martial arts than the former Nittany Lion. While Davis relies on his speed and grappling technique, Johnson is a brawler who's best skill is his striking ability, with 12 of his 16 career UFC wins having come by either knockout or technical knockout.
On the other hand, Johnson has been susceptible to being forced into submission or "tapping-out" over his career, which happens to be one of the specialties of Davis. Having won four bouts by submission over the course of his career, Davis will have Johnson's three tap-out defeats in the back of his mind when the two square off.
"I think my skill set matches up well with his because he's not a well-rounded fighter so I'll make him look bad," Davis said. "My experience as a wrestler gives me a distinct advantage because I'll do what I want and he can't stop it."
A competitor by nature, the Harrisburg native will enter his match extra hungry, knowing that this victory could be the one that grants him an opportunity to fight for the light heavyweight title, which is currently held by Jon Jones.
As a proud alumnus of Penn State, Davis sees the athletic feats being accomplished by fellow Penn State graduates such as football players Michael Robinson and Jordan Hill winning the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks and Olympic rower Natalie Dell winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games and is motivated even more to become a UFC champion.
"Penn State has a history of greatness and if you look at every sport, we have stars everywhere," Davis said. "To win a (UFC) title would be no different than those accomplishments."
When he visited the school back in November and worked out in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, the 2008 national champion was struck by not only the talent but also the work ethic of head coach Cael Sanderson's squad.
Watching the Nittany Lions enter the final session of the 2014 NCAA Championships in a tight race with Minnesota for the team title, Davis had no doubt that they would win their fourth consecutive national championship.
"Winning four straight (titles) is pretty amazing but it's what I expect at this point," Davis said. "They're losing two of the best seniors in the country (Taylor and Ed Ruth) next season, and I still expect them to finish first. The intensity and the coaching in that wrestling room is like nothing else."
Davis laughed when asked if he spun the idea of fighting in the UFC to Taylor and Ruth when he met the fellow four-time All-Americans, but said that he sees the same fire in the two national champions that he has himself.
If there is one thing that man nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful" learned from former coach Troy Sunderland when he competed at Penn State, it's that a great competitor can't be persuaded to do anything, they have to want to accomplish it all on their own.
That's the attitude that attracted Davis to wrestling, and it's the same attitude that he carries with him not just in the cage as a mixed martial artist, but in everything he does in life.
"You don't wrestle because your dad told you to, you do it because you love the sport, and if you don't want it I can't help you," Davis said. "The most beneficial thing I learned wrestling at Penn State is that if I want something done, I get it done myself. There's no passing and no timeouts in wrestling so you have to create your own opportunities. It's a lot like life."
How his bout with Johnson turns out and whether he gets a title shot remain undecided, but whatever happens, there is no doubt that Davis will continue to strive for his goals, both as a fighter and as a person.
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Nittany Lions practiced these past few weeks - every serve, every hit, and every match had a little more focus to it as the team gets ready to host the 2014 EIVA Tournament in Rec Hall on Thursday and Saturday.
The teams competing are the top four ranked teams in the EIVA conference. No. 4 George Mason will compete against No. 1 Penn State on Thursday while No. 2 Harvard competes against No. 3 Princeton. The winner of the two matches will face off in the finals on Saturday.
"My favorite part is watching the team really get its focus on now," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "To me it's very interesting to watch teams hone their competitive focus and all of a sudden practice takes on a different timber. Guys are very involved, very invested in practice from the top to bottom of our roster. It's fun to see they're knocking on the door of the goals that they had set for themselves about nine months ago."
As the team continues to compete, the players will use this tournament as another step towards their ultimate destination in their journey.
"We know that we can play at a high level and we're expecting to win a national championship this year," Peter Russell said. "Knowing that every match has a little more worth than what it did in the regular season is exciting. It's a lot more fun because we're competitors and knowing that we are competing for something a lot more than a regular season game is something special."
Knowing that the stakes are the same for everyone as they approach the EIVA tournament adds to the championship season and the competitive nature that comes with the top teams in the EIVA.
"Everyone's in the same position. If you lose you're done. The playoffs really matter and we were anxious to see who we were going to get. You don't overlook anyone because everyone's competing for the same thing," Matt Seifert said.
During the regular season, Penn State competed against each of these teams twice. In their first match against George Mason they won on the road 3-1. When they played the Patriots at home, they won 3-0. Against Princeton, the Nittany Lions lost 3-2 in Princeton, N.J. but won 3-0 when they returned to Rec Hall. When they played Harvard, they won both matches 3-0.
Although facing these teams twice may seem like an advantage, both teams know the same amount about each other and still have to prepare for the aspects of the game they may not expect.
"I don't think any team gets an advantage by playing the same team," Pavlik said. "Both teams have the opportunity to see each other and gather information to get comfortable with what's going on. It's another step in the process that we take in the goal of winning a national championship. We have to make sure we go back and take a look at what worked well against Mason and what worked well for them and come up with a game plan."
Here's a closer look at each of the team's competing and what head coach Mark Pavlik expects to see out of these three teams this weekend.
Entering the weekend with an 8-6 conference record and a 14-13 overall record, George Mason won against Harvard 3-0 at home and lost to them earlier in the season 3-0 when they played on the road. Against Princeton, George Mason won 3-1 at home and lost 3-1 at Princeton.
"George Mason is a team that is coming back from Fred Chao having to replace all seven of his starters. They had a very tragic death in the George Mason family this summer with one of the guys they were counting on being on the court for them. I think they've spent a better half of this year trying to find their personality and find what works. The past three to four weeks they've been playing very, very good volleyball so we are going to have our hands full in the semi-final," Pavlik said.
With a conference record of 10-4 and an overall record of 15-9, Princeton lost at home and at Harvard 3-2 both times. Against George Mason, they won 3-1 at home and lost 3-1 when they traveled.
"Princeton has shown they are very capable of playing big boy volleyball. They have shown they have really strong arms. Tony (Ensbury) is as good as a libero as there is in the league and they've been in some recent EIVA finals and most of those guys are still on the team so they're coming in here saying been there done that," Pavlik said.
Harvard enters the tournament with an 11-3 conference record and 15-7 overall record as they bring experience to the court. Against Princeton they won 3-2 both at home and on the road. George Mason fell to them both times 3-0.
"Harvard replaced a setter this year, (Nick) Bendell has kept their offense running in between DJ White and his brother Casey and Chris Gibbons. They've had some pretty good ball control and arguably they have two of the best middles. It's a team that's been together also the past couple of years," Pavlik said.
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014 outdoor season underway, the Penn State track and field team isn't taking any breaks as it looks to continue a record-breaking year.
This year, the Nittany Lions have showed off every last bit of sweat, every extra minute of effort, and every ounce of dedication they've shed at practice. Their perseverance has been reciprocated with new record times and numerous event sweeps.
A big component of the track and field team is the group of women that make up the 4x400 meter relay team: One freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one graduate student who not only won at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but also broke a university record at the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish.
Relay and sprinting assistant coach to the team Randy Bungard says this group of women is one of the hardest working on the team.
"They do everything I ask them to do," Bungard says. "They always want to do better and I believe they can."
The relay team has brought together four women who are accustomed to individual competition and created a team of champions. That being said, a Big Ten title and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA level does not come without adversity and obstacles.
When the sun rises and the mind is racing and the nerves are wired and the adrenaline is pumping, it can only mean one thing - it's race day.
The starter pistol fires and off she goes, baton in hand, at full-blown All-American speed, the lead runner of the Penn State women's track 4x400 meter relay race, junior Dynasty McGee.
For McGee, race day is when you show how much you've been putting into practice. Race day is a reflection of dedication and time.
"How you practice is how you run. Practice makes perfect and if you practice hard, you run hard," McGee said. "And when it's time [to race], we're serious and we're praying. I'm trying to calm [the team] down while keeping myself calm."
This season is McGee's third with the team and, so far, her dedication and commitment to the track is evident. She's consistent in victory, as most all-American athletes are.
In the 2013 outdoor season, she won the 200m race at the Jim Thorpe Open, she won the 400 m race at the Bucknell Team Challenge, and she finished fourth overall at the Big Ten Championships, to name a few.
There is always room for improvement, she says, and she will continue to work on the things she needs to work on to reach her goals, individually and with her team.
"Practices are going really well. We are working on the things we need to. As a team, I feel like we are getting along really well," she said. "The team now is a totally different team than it was my freshman year. We get along a lot better and we support each other a lot more."
She reflects on the changes she's seen in herself and her team throughout her three years.
"As a freshman, it was hard for me [to transition] so the things that they did to me that I didn't like, I make sure that I don't do that. Freshman year we have a bunch of divas and we weren't walking around holding hands, but now we have a good relationship. I make sure that I'm easy to talk to. If they need something, I will do my best to provide that," she explains. "Without [the other team members], I wouldn't have these accolades. I'm very grateful to them."
Coach Bungard is a fan of McGee's consistency and ability to mentor those around her. He is certain that her tenacity will lead her to her goals.
"Dynasty is steady," Bungard said. "She will probably get to first rounds, which is the NCAA qualifying. She didn't get there last year and having a shot to make the NCAA championship is a big thing."
On race day, she nears the end of her lap and hands off the baton to the second runner of the relay team All-American sprinter and veteran member, Mahagony Jones.
Jones is finishing her fifth and final season with Penn State where she's spent five years growing into the person and the athlete she is today. In 2013 alone, Jones was an All-American, a two-time Big Ten Champion (200 m and 4x400 m relay) and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Women's Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year.
"Mahagony is just Mahagony. She's always there when she needs to be," said Bungard.
She, like her teammates, spends day in and out on the field working on her goals.
"It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of motivation, and staying focused," she explains. "You can't get in your own way. You need confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself and in your teammates."
This season is more than just another one for the record books for Jones. This season is her final chance to leave her legacy at Penn State before venturing out to the world of post-collegiate track.
"Penn State track has raised me these past five years. I've definitely grown a lot since I got here," Jones said.
She wants to capture some more All-American moments, she says, which she will focus on for the rest of this year.
As for her post Penn State career, let's just say Jones does not plan on leaving the track behind her just yet. She hopes to one-day stand on a bigger podium, one where she will have the opportunity to represent something bigger than herself.
Halfway through the race.
Up next on the spotlight, the third runner of the relay and the youngest of the Nittany Lions, freshman Tichina Rhodes.
Rhodes is in her first season as an NCAA Division I athlete and it has definitely a road of adjustments.
"When she first came in, she lacked a little bit of confidence. She wasn't sure what to expect and probably never expected to make this relay," said Coach Bungard. "She was overwhelmed with academics and the training was a bit different than she had done and I think without the other three [relay members] she probably wouldn't have survived."
"It's been a lot of fun but it has also been a lot of hard work. In high school, I was at the top. I was leading workouts and [I] come to college and [I] have to work my way up," said Rhodes. "[My teammates] push me a lot to better myself. Here I'm not always leading the workouts and they help out a lot."
Confidence is a fundamental for success and Rhodes has put all her trust in herself, her teammates, and her coaches, who have been working all season to mentor her to become the best she can be. Being a top-level athlete is no easy feat and coming off an up and down individual season, Rhodes is just working on progress.
She steps up the plate when necessary and her teammates smile when they talk about her dedication.
"She hasn't let us down yet," they say.
Almost at the finish line.
Anchoring the relay and running one of the most crucial last moments of race is sprinter, hurdler, All-American sophomore Kiah Seymour.
Last weekend, Seymour broke a 200-meter race facility record at the Bucknell Team Challenge finishing in 23.66 seconds.
Seymour is in her second year with the Penn State Track and Field team where she's already established her ability.
"Kiah is very mature and she's one of the top athletes on the team. She came in in such better shape this year," said Bungard.
"From this year to last year I would say I made a 180-degree change. I've progressed a whole lot more because I want it more now. I love what I do. I love the sport and that makes it easier for me and this is where I feel the most comfortable. That's really what motivates me and drives me to keep going," Seymour said.
Seymour is a quiet individual with a fierce competitive attitude. She sits quietly, still, and focused. As her time at Penn State passes, her drive only becomes greater.
It's evident to her teammates and those around that while she is great at what she does, she will one day be phenomenal. She's a force to reckoned with.
End race day.
This race day, however, ended with more than just tired legs. This race day ended with history. At the end of the day at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the women earned a fifth-place finish in their relay race, a Penn State record.
They just went out there and did what they know how to do: run hard, they said.
"We weren't expecting to break a record," said Jones. "We just went out there and did our best."
Modesty at its finest.
"But it was great," Jones said with a smile on her face.
Her teammates laughed with her.
The Nittany Lions are more focused now than ever as they enter the prime of their outdoor season.
This is what they train for, they said.
All four women agree that the most important part of racing is believing in yourself and in your teammates.
"Don't get into your own head," they all said. "Confidence is key."
McGee says their relationships on and off the field are great and they are key components in team performances.
"We have gotten a lot closer this year. Relationships outside the track definitely contribute [to success]," said McGee.
"They've got a pretty good natural chemistry and that's one of the things that I think is special about this relay," said Bungard.
For now, all four athletes will focus on their individual events.
McGee will look to qualify and impress at a national level.
Jones will strive for All-America status and she will look to break her own personal best.
"Mahagony was third indoor in the 200 [meter race] so she wants to at least be that good outdoor and [she] want to make the 100-meter final," said Bungard.
Seymour will look to surpass even her own expectations.
"Kiah didn't win the Big Ten in 400-meter hurdles last year so I know that's a goal of hers and she's leading the Big Ten; she wants to finish high in the NCAA," said Bungard.
Rhodes will look to grow to full Nittany Lion Division I potential. She will continue to work on her confidence and hopes to truly prepare herself and to make her presence known.
When they compete as a relay team, the women bring together their most valuable assets and they hope to outshine to competition.
While Penn State will be losing a valuable runner in Jones come graduation, the future looks very bright. McGee, Rhodes, and Seymour will return next year with the Nittany Lions in search to break more records and Coach Bungard is confident that fans can expect nothing but great things from these four superstars, both individually, as a team, on and off the field.
Look out for these four dominant girls and the rest of the track team as they venture through their outdoor season. Up next is the Penn Relays held in Philadelphia, which begin on Thursday.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- During a sunny Easter weekend in Happy Valley, the Penn State men's lacrosse team took down Delaware behind a disciplined defensive game plan and a potent offensive attack.
"We harped on discipline and hustle all week," said senior defender Tyler Travis.
The Nittany Lions put on a fundamentally sound performance in front of their home crowd en route to a 10-6 victory over the Blue Hens. A display of patience on offense and composure on defense earned the win for the Blue and White, moving their record to .500.
"I thought that collectively they made a lot of big plays," head coach Jeff Tambroni said of the defense after last Saturday's win. "We just asked each one of those guys to do their part and Coach Toner did a great job of putting a game plan together."
On the attack, senior Shane Sturgis's stick came to life in front of nearly 1,500 fans in attendance. A six-point performance (4g, 2a) was exactly the spark that the offense needed to rally behind.
"He took charge of the offense," Tambroni said. "He's by far our biggest and most dynamic leader in the offensive end and typically when he's playing well, everybody feeds off his energy and confidence."
Sturgis' big game increased his goal total to 30 on the season, which is already three more than what he scored in 2013. The senior has been a staple in Tambroni's offense since his freshman season, and the coaching staff is pleased to see him finish his career strong.
"Earlier in the year he was playing hard and productive; in the middle of the season he was playing hard but shots weren't falling, but today he was the one guy that was shooting consistently," Tambroni said.
The offense went on a 6-1 run that spanned three quarters against Delaware, fueling the Nittany Lions with all of the momentum. The scoring run was sparked by the timely decision-making and poise displayed by Sturgis.
"He did a wonderful job of reading Delaware's offense and getting our guys organized on the fly," Tambroni said.
Sturgis and fellow senior Tom LaCrosse have been tremendous leaders to the younger players this season, enabling them for success in seasons to come.
"Between TJ Sanders and our freshman crew, it's taking a little while for those guys to season and develop," said the fourth-year coach. "It was nice to see those guys (the seniors) come out and play the way they did because they complemented that group of freshmen very well."
Seniors on the defensive side of the ball were extremely impactful as well. Travis and Steven Bogert combined for 11 ground balls while goaltender Austin Kaut was locked in to the Delaware shooters and made 14 saves.
"I thought what stood out is some of the seniors made some consistent efforts and consistent plays that made us comfortable in the offensive end," Tambroni said. "Travis, Kaut and Bogert were so reliable and they just made such a difference to holding Delaware to low-angle looks."
The Nittany Lions are down to just one game left on their 2014 slate as they prepare to host CAA rival Hofstra next Saturday. Faceoff against the Pride is set for 12 p.m. on senior day.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a beautiful night in State College, the Penn State Nittany Lions turned in a superb performance, beating the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, 12-10, to earn their ninth win of their season.
Simply put, the Blue and White buckled down, did their jobs, and got the win.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Nittany Lions went into halftime trailing the Blue Jays, 7-4. Penn State had some success in the first half, but Johns Hopkins made huge defensive stops to limit an offense getting into their groove.
That all changed as soon as the second half got underway.
"Well, again, I wasn't necessarily mad about the first half," Doherty said. "We needed to make some saves, we needed to come up with some momentum-turners, and we needed to put our shots away. Thankfully, [in] the second half the girls got their heads up; we put our shots away, got a couple goals in transition.
"We know we can score quickly, so the girls took advantage of that in the beginning of the first half. I was saying, 'we need to make them stop us,' because sometimes we're going up and we're not being stopped yet. So keep going until they stop you and they did a good job of doing that."
As we have seen before, the Nittany Lions seemed to just turn a switch and dominant games. They opened the second half by scoring five goals in a row to take an 8-7 lead. Madison Cyr scored three goals in a 26-second span and completely put the Blue Jays on their heels.
"You score one you want to keep going," Cyr said. "You score two you want to keep going. It definitely helped."
The three goals in 26 seconds are not that unusual for a player like Cyr, according to her coach.
"We're trying to get her to score four in 30 [seconds]," Doherty said with a laugh. "So we just missed the mark. She's great. She's great because she is a smart cutter and a smart challenger. She knows when to come in and make the most of a situation and she did that tonight."
Part of what made the Nittany Lions' comeback look so smooth was their play in transition. The turnovers they were creating on the defensive end were becoming excellent offensive opportunities, and they were continuing to capitalize on the Blue Jays not having their feet set defensively.
"Despite Hopkins, I think we are a good transition team," Doherty said. "I think we see each other well. We go hard to goal well. We can score quickly. We took more advantage of it in the second half than we did in the first half."
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the game was tied at 9-9. Cyr scored her fourth goal of the game when fellow midfielder Jenna Mosketti hit her in stride and she beat goalkeeper Caroline Federico five-hole to take the lead. The Nittany Lions outscored the Blue Jays 2-1 in the games final minute to secure the victory.
One of the major storylines in the second half was the play of freshman goalkeeper Cat Rainone. She stepped in mid-way through the first half and helped provide a serious spark to the Nittany Lions. She made five saves to earn the win, including some sensational saves on free-position shots.
"In the cage, it's not a mental thing," Rainone said. "You just have to go in there and do it. Get your body behind the ball and just make the save.
"It was a great game for everybody; it's definitely a team effort. The one play that I made doesn't make he game. So I am definitely proud of everybody on the field, especially our sideline, being our support system, being there when we have turnovers and when we make good, big plays. They are always there to support us."
The Nittany Lions will now head back to the practice field as they prepare to go for win number 10 against Princeton on Senior Day this Saturday.
"We have great character on our team," Doherty said. "We work hard all game long and sometimes the breaks go your way, and sometimes they don't. This game we were able to put our shots away when it counted and we were able to make huge defensive stops. We had a great couple charge calls when the girls got in position to take that charge, and those were momentum-turners for us. They stepped out when they needed to, defensively, and got in front a lot of the players. They were just on it tonight; it was great to watch."