Recently in Cross Country Category
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2012 calendar year was one marked by
excellence and achievement from numerous Penn State teams.
Men's Track's Robby Creese Breaks
As we close in on the final days of 2012, GoPSUsports.com wanted to take time
and reflect on a tremendous year for Penn State Athletics. The hiring of head coach Bill O'Brien on Jan.
6, in many ways, set a tone for the athletic department throughout the calendar
year. O'Brien's introductory press
conference highlighted a clear vision for how the football program would try to
do its part in helping the athletic department move forward as One Team.
The results speak for themselves, and all 31 Penn State teams across the
University Park campus should be recognized for their efforts in 2012. The list of achievements on the field of play,
including one national title and seven Big Ten titles, and in the classroom,
including more than 270 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, is tremendous.
The spring season included a Big Ten and NCAA title from the wrestling team for
second-straight season. Three Nittany
Lion wrestlers - Frank Molinaro, David Taylor and Ed Ruth - won individual
national titles. The Lady Lions, who
clinched a Big Ten title on the BJC hardwood in February, earned a spot in the
Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history. The men's volleyball team earned a trip to
the NCAA National Semifinals for the 27th time.
The women's lacrosse team reached the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Additionally, 171 Penn State student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten
accolades during the winter and spring seasons.
Men's gymnastics' Miguel Pineda was named a first Academic All-American.
The fall campaign was one for the Penn State record books. Penn State won five Big Ten championships and
had five coaches selected conference coach of the year. The field hockey team (Char Morett) won the
Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the men's soccer team (Bob
Warming), women's soccer (Erica Walsh) and women's volleyball (Russ Rose) teams
all won Big Ten championships.
Additionally, after leading the Nittany Lion football team to an 8-4
campaign, including six Big Ten wins, Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of
In postseason competition, the women's soccer team reached the NCAA College Cup
Final for the first time in program history.
The women's volleyball team played in the NCAA National Semifinals for
the 10th time in school history. The
women's cross country team captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional crown on its
The story was much of the same in the classroom. A fall record 100 Penn State student-athletes
achieved Academic All-Big Ten recognition this semester, including a trio of
4.0 students - football's John Urschel, women's volleyball's Maggie Harding and
women's cross country's Katie Rodden.
Football's Pete Massaro and Urschel earned first team Academic
All-America honors. Harding won the
Elite 89 Award for the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship for having the highest
cumulative grade point average of student-athletes participating in the
With so many events to choose from, narrowing down the list of outstanding Penn
State sporting events from 2012 to just 10 was a challenge, but here are your
10 nominees for the top sporting event of the outstanding 2012 calendar year
for Penn State Athletics.
From now until Dec. 28, cast your vote for the top event of the year.
February 12, 2012 - Seattle, Wash. -
Freshman Robby Creese runs 3:59.52 mile
Freshman phenom Robby Creese etched his place in Penn State history by becoming
just the third athlete in school history to break the four-minute barrier in
the mile run at the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington. Riding the wave of momentum following a
superb start to his first indoor track season in Happy Valley, Creese ran a
3:59.52 mile, which was the second fastest in Penn State indoor track
history. Creese joined Ryan Foster and
Larry Mangan as the only three Nittany Lions to crack four minutes.
Wrestling Clinches Second-Straight NCAA
March 17, 2012 - St. Louis, Mo. -
Penn State Clinches NCAA Championship
Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Penn State wrestling team reached the
mountain top of the wrestling world for the second-straight season with a truly
dominant performance at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. The Nittany Lions mathematically clinched
their third all-time team national title during the morning session inside the
Scottrade Center on final day of competition at the three-day tournament. Penn State put icing on the cake with three
individual national champions, including senior Frank Molinaro (149), sophomore
David Taylor (165) and sophomore Ed Ruth (174), who finished the 2011-'12
season with a combined record of 88-0.
Penn State cleared second-place Minnesota by 26.5 points in the final
Women's Basketball Beats LSU for Sweet
March 21, 2012 - Baton Rouge, La. -
Penn State 90, LSU 80
When the 2012 NCAA Tournament draw was released, the fourth-seeded Lady
Lions knew their road to the Sweet Sixteen would likely include a clash against
fifth-seeded LSU on its home floor. The
Big Ten regular season champion Lions dispatched UTEP in the first round in
Baton Rouge, setting up a showdown with the host Tigers for a trip to the Sweet
Sixteen. LSU led 37-36 at halftime
before claiming a 50-44 edge in the second half. However scoring runs of 9-2 and 8-2 from Penn
State in in the second half, along with a 30-point night from Maggie Lucas
fueled the Lions for a 90-80 victory over LSU in a hostile Maravich
Center. The Lady Lion victory sent Penn
State into the Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history.
Men's Volleyball Tops George Mason for
14th-Straight EIVA Crown
April 28, 2012 - Rec Hall - Penn
State 3, George Mason 1
Penn State's string of success in the EIVA is unmatched. On the heels of the heels of claiming the
best record in the conference in 2012, Penn State earned the luxury of hosting
the championship match on its home floor.
The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions used 15 kills from Joe Sunder and 11
kills from freshman Aaron Russell to claim a 3-1 victory over George Mason in
the EIVA title match inside Rec Hall.
The Lions quickly built a 2-0 lead after a strong start to the match,
but George Mason answered by winning the third set. Nonetheless, Penn State erased a 12-9 Patriot
lead in the fourth set en route to the victory, automatic bid in the national
semifinals and its 27th appearance in the NCAA Championship.
Football Downs Navy for Bill O'Brien's
September 15, 2012 - Beaver Stadium -
Penn State 34, Navy 7
Following an 0-2 start to the 2012 season, the Nittany Lion football team had
one of the best practices of its season on the Monday of Navy week. Penn State did not look back from there. Led by three touchdowns from standout
sophomore receiver Allen Robinson, the Nittany Lions rolled past Navy, 34-7, en
route to the first victory for head coach Bill O'Brien. The Lions led 20-0 at halftime following a
pair of Robinson scores and a third touchdown pass from Matt McGloin to Jesse
James. McGloin finished with four
touchdown passes, and sophomore Mike Hull put an exclamation point on the
victory with a 74-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second half. O'Brien received a shower of water when the
clock ticked to 0:00, and the win kick-started a string of five-straight
victories for the Nittany Lions.
Field Hockey Shuts Out Michigan for Big
Ten Title Sweep
November 4, 2012 - Iowa City, Iowa -
Penn State 2, Michigan 0
On the heels of winning the Big Ten regular season title, the Nittany Lion
field hockey team capped off an impressive run through the postseason
tournament draw with a dominant defensive performance against third-seeded
Michigan. Standout senior forward Kelsey
Amy tallied both of Penn State's goals to lead the Nittany Lions to a 2-0
victory over the Wolverines and their second-straight Big Ten Tournament
championship. Senior goalkeeper Ayla
Halus notched three saves and earned her fourth shutout of the season. The victory boosted the Lions into hosting
NCAA Tournament competition for second time in three seasons.
Women's Cross Country Claims NCAA
Regional Title on Home Course
November 9, 2012 - Blue/White Course
- Penn State Clinches NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional
There is no better motivation for a team to enter a season knowing it has an
opportunity to host postseason competition at home. When the Nittany Lion cross country team
began its formal preparations for 2012 at the end of the summer, it knew the
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals loomed on the Blue/White Course loomed in early
November. Penn State took full advantage
of the opportunity and unseasonably warm weather to edge No. 9 and defending
NCAA champion Georgetown (61-63) for a victory.
Junior Victoria Perri and senior Brooklyne Ridder led the way with
fourth and sixth-place finishes, respectively.
The Lions went on to finish 14th at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17.
Football Ousts Wisconsin on Senior Day
November 24, 2012 - Beaver Stadium -
Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21 OT
It would have been hard to script a better ending to the 2012 football
season. A senior class that will forever
be remembered for its commitment to Penn State had to earn ever ounce of
success it achieved, even on its special day.
After an emotional senior ceremony to honor the 31 members of the senior
class, the Nittany Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 to Wisconsin. The Lions rallied back to take a 21-14 lead
until the final 18 seconds of the game when the Badgers sent the contest into
overtime with a late score. Sam Ficken's
leg put Penn State up 24-21 in OT before a missed field goal preserved the
Senior Day win. Defensive tackle Jordan
Hill was the star of the show. Hill was
simply not going to let the Lions be denied in his final game, notching 12 tackles
in dominant fashion.
Women's Soccer Edges Florida State in
Dramatic Fashion for first Trip to College Cup Final
November 30, 2012 - San Diego, Calif.
- Penn State 2, Florida State 1 OT
After winning its 15th-straight Big Ten title, the Nittany Lion women's soccer
team etched its place in program history with a remarkable run through the NCAA
Tournament. But the string of postseason
victories will be trademarked by a soggy night in San Diego on the final day of
November. The Nittany Lions had been to
the College Cup three times before their trip to the West Coast, but never to
the College Cup Final. Senior midfielder
Christine Nairn changed that with an overtime goal that will live in Penn State
women's soccer lore forever. After
taking a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, Penn State held on until the final 48
seconds when Florida State tied the contest in improbable fashion. Nevertheless, Penn State's senior class was
not going to let the season end. A long
pass from Maddy Evans on the right wing into the box set up Nairn's tap-in,
game-winner from six yards out, sending Nittany Lion women's soccer into the
College Cup Final for the first time in program history.
Women's Volleyball Punches Ticket to
10th NCAA Semifinal
December 8, 2012 - West Lafayette,
Ind. - Penn State 3, Minnesota 1
Faced with the task of needing a third victory over the same team to earn a
spot in the NCAA National Semifinals, the top-seeded and Big Ten champion
Nittany Lion women's volleyball team entered its regional final match in
Purdue's Mackey Arena focused on the task at hand. Penn State built a 5-0 lead over
eighth-seeded Minnesota in set one en route to a 1-0 lead in the match. No strangers to adversity, though, the
Nittany Lions dropped set two and found themselves in a 23-21 deficit in the
third set. Just two points from going
down 2-1 in the match, Penn State answered.
Micha Hancock and Deja McClendon combined for four-straight tallies to
make it 25-24 before Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Scott finished the match
with a kill, punching Penn State's ticket into the NCAA Semifinals for the
fifth time in six season and the 10th time in school history.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - On an afternoon that presented perfect running
conditions, the Penn State's women's cross country team raced to a first place
finish in team standings at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, while the men's
squad took fifth place.
Competing against 31 schools, the women edged out defending national
champion Georgetown, 61-63 in points, while the men (147 points) finished
behind Georgetown, Villanova, Princeton, and American University in that order.
For the women, the victory was extremely sweet, as the squad entered the
race ranked behind Georgetown and had expected to battle Villanova and
Princeton for the second spot.
Instead, they found themselves in first place, something head coach Beth
Alford Sullivan stated she could not be more proud of them for.
"To beat the defending national champions is a big feather in the cap,"
said Sullivan. "It's a well earned victory for these gals."
Leading the way for the women's squad was junior Tori Perri, who finished
fourth overall with a time of 20.31. The Nittany Lions also got top 25 finishes
from senior Brooklyne Ridder (sixth), Junior Rebekka Simko (10th),
sophomore Leigha Anderson (20th), and junior Emily Giannotti (21st).
Perri, who stated that she was surprised to have finished so high, seemed more
excited by her team's victory than her own impressive performance.
"I'm really happy with how our team ran today," said Perri. "It's really exciting
to do as well as we did and that's definitely the best part."
Something that both Sullivan and Perri stressed was key to the squad's victory
was their ability to run together in a pack at the front of the race.
"The way we ran is certainly the way to do it in cross country," said Sullivan.
"You have to have a pack on top if you want to do well."
Perri agreed that her teammate's ability to stick together made a big
difference during the course of the race.
"It always helps to have someone by your side," said Perri. "It keeps you
comfortable and relaxed and makes you want to work hard for the girl next to
On the men's side, the star of the day was senior Sam Masters, who finished 12th
overall with a time of 30.48, and put himself in place to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
"I put everything I had into that last mile," said Masters. "This race meant a
lot to me and it means a lot to make it to Nationals."
Masters stressed that the extra training he put in to prepare for the team's first
10K was what gave him the ability and confidence to perform well.
"I put in 120 miles a week for about a month straight," said Masters. "I knew
that I was ready to go and I felt so confident."
While the longer course made the race more of a challenge for the men, their
familiarity from running in it in practice gave them the strength to handle the
"This is the first time for the entire field to run a 10K so it really becomes
a grit race," said Sullivan. "It's a very difficult course but having the
experience practicing on it really did pay off."
Being familiar with the course was a factor that helped play into the women's
race as well.
"It's one of the more difficult courses we run," said Perri. "Having the
opportunity to work out on it and get familiar with it really helps."
Overall, Sullivan stated she was thrilled with the efforts of both squads.
"I think we've had this kind of race in us all season," said Sullivan. "We've
been building towards this and everyone really pieced together a great race."
The Nittany Lions will finish their season at the NCAA Cross Country
Championships, which take place Nov. 17 at the University of Louisville.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - It's been two months since the Penn State cross country
teams have had the opportunity to race on their home course.
That will change on Friday when the Nittany Lions play host to the 2012 NCAA
Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
Both the men and women's squads have been looking forward to running on the
Blue & White Golf Course, where they have not had the chance to compete
since Sept 8.
"We're really excited to have another chance at home," said head coach Beth
Alford-Sullivan. "It's an electric environment to compete at."
Not only are both squads looking forward to running in front of their own fans,
they also believe their knowledge of the course gives them a strong home field
'We know this course, we practice on this course, and we own this course," said
junior Emily Giannotti. "That makes it even more exciting."
Senior captain Tyler Corkedale agreed that being familiar with the course
should benefit the team.
"It's a tough course but that benefits us because we run it so much," said
Corkedale. "The teams coming in may have seen it once or twice but they don't
know it like we do."
Another aspect that could play to the Nittany Lion's advantage is the distance
of the race.
While the women will be running their usual 6,000 meters, the men will be
running a slightly longer distance than usual at 10,000 meters, something they
are accustomed to doing on the course in practice.
"We add a mile on which goes in our favor," said Sullivan. "As long as our guys
stay tough and stay in a pack we should be able to close well since it's our course."
One factor that will potentially affect strategy is the amount of teams
competing in the meet.
Coming off of the Big Ten Championships that featured just 12 schools, the
Nittany Lion's will now be facing more than 30 schools on Friday.
Despite this, Sullivan believes her teams can make the race seem smaller by
staying up at the front of the pack.
"Both of our squads are front end teams," said Sullivan. "It may be a lot of
people but we should be able to make it a relatively small race up front."
Both squads enter the meet with the aspirations to qualify for the National
The women, who are currently ranked behind defending national champion
Georgetown, will be looking for the automatic bid that comes with a top two
While Sullivan knows her team will be challenged for the second automatic bid
from schools such as Villanova and Princeton, she is optimistic about her
"We got to really compete for it and we can't afford to fall asleep," said
Sullivan. "We're going to fight a really good battle though and it should be
The men's squad, who enter the race ranked behind Georgetown and Princeton,
will be in tough competition with a number of schools including Villanova for
an at-large bid.
"We're going to try to put ourselves in a position to upset somebody," said
Sullivan. "Hopefully we can knock somebody off."
Between both their training and their experiences competing in meets both large
and small this season, Sullivan believes her runners could not be more prepared
to race on Friday.
"I think we've really come together well," said Sullivan. "We understand our
goals, we're well prepared, and we're healthy and feeling good."
Since it is the team's last chance to compete at home this season, a pair of berths
to National Championships would mean that much more to the seniors whose
careers are winding down.
"It's going to be emotional," said Corkedale. "It could be my last cross
country race and it's my last chance to run in front of our home crowd."
Sullivan agreed that the meet will be extra special because of the seniors.
"I'm very excited for our seniors," said Sullivan. "Having a second chance for
them to compete at home is very important to us."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer will feature all 12 teams that make up the Big
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They've
been looking forward to this moment all season, and on Sunday both the Penn
State women's and men's cross country teams get the chance to prove themselves
against their conference at the Big Ten Championships.
The meet, which takes place
at Michigan State,
When asked about the meet, head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan couldn't contain her
excitement about facing their competition.
"It's a great opportunity to
go head to head with everybody," said Sullivan. "It's a rare sport that gets to
do that and our kids and I are excited for it."
Sullivan was also quick to mention
how her teams training in preparation for the meet has kept them in excellent
"We've had a great cycle of
workouts starting from the end of last week," said Sullivan. "Now we're trying
to make sure their legs are good and fresh going into this weekend."
Along with making sure her
team is in top physical shape, Sullivan wants to ensure that they are mentally
prepared to handle the pressure of a big race as well.
"I just tell them to embrace
the fun and get excited about what's at hand," said Sullivan. "It's all about
keeping it relaxed, loose, and being confident.
Junior Nick Scarpello agreed
with his coach and stated that the key to staying calm for a race of this
magnitude is to keep your mindset the same as always.
"For a meet like this, we
like to approach it like any other race," said Scarpello. "For us it's like
business as usual."
One thing that Sullivan did
stress is how the team's strategy changes with only nine runners competing from
"The tactics change because
the runners have a clear vision of the race," said Sullivan. "They can see
their teammates better and run in a pack better so the strategy changes so they
can team perform."
This is a factor that
Sullivan believes could play into the Nittany Lions favor, as they have raced
in both large and small meets this season.
"I think we're really ready,"
said Sullivan. "We've run the gamut on all the things that the sport produces
and we've seen a lot of the Big Ten.
Junior Rebekka Simko agreed
that the Nittany Lion's are prepared for the challenge, since they have already
faced some of the best competition the country has to offer this season.
"We've been against the best
in the country," said Simko. "We know we can run with these schools.
Both squads enter the race
with high aspirations for themselves. Sullivan believes the men's squad can
place in the top five.
"We finished sixth last year,
so we're looking to crack that top five," said Sullivan. "That's the standard
and hopefully we can get into the upper echelon.
Scarpello shared Sullivan's
opinion on the goal for his team.
"We're standing by our goal
at the beginning on the season which was to finish fifth," said Scarpello.
"We're going to have to run well but it just means performing up to our
Some of the schools that the
men's squad will be sure to keep an eye on are the defending national champion
Wisconsin Badgers, as well as Michigan.
"Wisconsin looks to be highly
the favorites," said Sullivan. "Michigan has also been running extremely well
On the women's side, the 13th-ranked
Nittany Lion's will be in tough competition with seventh-ranked Michigan and 15th-ranked
Michigan State for the title.
"Michigan State is the two
time defending champs and they've got the home field advantage," said Sullivan.
"Michigan is having a phenomenal season and they're the one team we haven't
In Sullivan's opinion, the
school that ends up winning will be the one that manages to get some unexpected
"The team that wins this
weekend is going to be the one that pulls off some surprise performances," said
Sullivan. "If someone comes through with a bigger race then they have all year
and gives their team an extra punch then that could determine it."
The one factor that Sullivan
believes will be huge for her runners is their ability to run together.
"Our girls have been running
so tight amongst each other," said Sullivan. "If that pack can stay tight on
the front end then we're going to be really dangerous."
Sullivan also expressed how
much it would mean to see this group of girls win the title.
"This would be huge," said
Sullivan. "We've been in contention every year and to pull off the win would
really set the standard for the program."
Simko echoed her coach's sentiments
on what winning would mean to the program.
"It would be unbelievable,"
said Simko. "It would be a great way for the seniors to end their careers."
Though the competition will
be tough, the Nittany Lion's believe that can pull off their goal.
"We're looking at it as it's
ours to steal, not ours to lose," said Sullivan. "If we keep that attitude
we'll have a great shot."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four years ago, they were starry-eyed freshmen, honored
to be apart of a team that won the Big Ten Championships.
Now as seniors, Brooklyne Ridder and Natalie Bower want nothing more than to
lead the Penn State women's cross country team to that same goal in their final
"Winning the Big Ten Championships would be the perfect ending to our four
years on the cross country team," said Ridder. "I couldn't imagine a better
Bower couldn't have agreed more with her teammate's sentiments.
"It would be a dream come true," said Bower. "We would love to have that goal
With the Nittany Lions ranked 13th nationally and only trailing Michigan
(seventh) in terms of Big Ten schools, the two senior captains know that their
goal is attainable, and are extremely proud of their team's performance up to
this point in the season.
"It's been really exciting to perform well and to run strong," said Ridder.
"It's definitely giving us a lot of confidence."
After having both qualified for the NCAA Championships their first three years
at Penn State, Ridder and Bower have continued to give strong individual
performances this season, having both finished in the Nittany Lion's top five
in every race they have run this year.
They maintained that they have welcomed the pressure of having the team count on
them, since they have extremely high expectations of themselves, as well.
"Natalie and I have had good performances since freshmen year, so we knew
expectations were going to be high," said Ridder. "We expect a lot out of
ourselves too though."
Not only have they embraced the pressure of being among the team's top
performers, but also the pressure of leading the team as captains.
"Being a captain you automatically put some pressure on yourself," said Bower.
"But it's all part of being a senior on the team."
Ridder added that being a captain is easier knowing that she has both Bower and
fellow senior captain Lindsey Graybill to count on.
"The three of us work together really well," said Ridder. "I know that the two
of them always have my back."
Both Ridder and Bower also stated that the underclassmen on the team have made
their job easier with their strong performances.
"The younger girls stepping it up have been a great help," said Ridder. "Being
able to have a team that runs together as a pack has been amazing."
Bower was quick to add that the entire team's work ethic during the course of
the season has also been a source of pride.
"We've been working really hard in both our workouts and our daily runs," said
Bower. "Not just our mileage but also our strength and our core."
Along with their teammates, Ridder and Bower both made sure to credit head
coach Beth Alford-Sullivan with their continued success.
"Every year she sets the expectations a little bit higher," said Ridder. "She's
been great to work with and I love having her as a coach."
Bower also praised Alford-Sullivan on her ability to get the best out of her
and her teammates.
"She realizes we need to work hard to achieve what we want to do," said Bower. "I
really appreciate her working with me."
With their final season winding down, both girls have been trying to put their
cross country careers in perspective.
"It feels like a few days ago that we were freshmen," said Bower. "It shows you
got to make it count while it lasts."
Ridder shared her teammate's opinion on the subject.
"I look back and I feel like I was just starting," said Ridder. "It's
definitely hitting me now that I have three races left in my senior year."
Whether or not this season ends in a Big Ten title, Ridder and Bower both
cannot believe their time with the Penn State women's cross country team is
coming to an end.
"It's sad that I only have three races left," said Ridder. "It would be great
to end this season on a good note."
Bower agreed, and stated she will miss the camaraderie between her teammates.
"It's something special to have this many girls work together so well," said
Bower. "It'll be sad to move on."
The Nittany Lions will compete at the Big Ten Championships on Oct 28 at
Michigan State University.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Last year, the Penn State men's cross country team
finished the season with a bad taste in their mouths, after they didn't qualify
for the NCAA Championships.
It is a feeling that redshirt sophomore Matt Fischer is not intent on repeating
for the second-straight year.
"The biggest thing for us is to make it to Nationals as a team," said Fischer.
"Its something that we missed out on last year, unfortunately."
Fischer and the team hopes to build on a strong outing at home earlier this
After sitting out the squad's first meet at Lock Haven, Fischer led the lions
with a second place finish at the Harry Groves Spike Shoe Invitational, a
performance that he expected from himself.
"I expected to do well," said Fischer.
"It's a small field and it came against guys that we race against pretty
often so I knew what to expect."
With the Nittany Lions set to race again next Saturday at Louisville, Fischer
stressed how excited he is to get back to competition.
"Its definitely exciting," said Fischer. "We get a chance to score some
at-large points for later in the season."
One aspect about the remainder of the season that Fischer is particularly
excited about is the opportunity to compete on a larger scale.
"It's exciting to get out there and see some bigger meets," said Fischer. "It's
a fun way to start up the season again by traveling."
While Fischer has gotten off to a hot start this year, he maintained that he is
looking to continue this type of performance for the rest of the season.
"I want to keep a level performance throughout the season," said Fischer. "I felt
I was a little inconsistent last year."
While Fischer's redshirt freshmen campaign consisted of him finishing in the
top seven for the Nittany Lions in every meet he competed in, he still feels as
if he has made major strides entering this year.
"I have a lot more confidence this year," said Fischer. "I definitely have a
better handle on the way to train."
Fischer was quick to attribute his ability to compete to the training he put
forth this summer.
"Last season I trained too hard during the summer but this season I figured out
how to have a better summer," said Fischer. "There's a fine line between
quality and quantity."
Now entering his second competitive cross country season, Fischer feels as
though he has a firm grasp on how to toe that line.
"You don't want to go too hard in the summer but you do want to keep your
mileage up," said Fischer. "I think I did a good job keeping my training steady
Training was just one element that Fischer had to adjust to when he made the
decision to redshirt his freshmen season.
Looking back, he feels as though he has come a long way.
"It's a whole different atmosphere with longer distances in college," said
Fischer. "You just have to build on it every year and stay consistent and it'll
take you to a higher level."
Along with making his own adjustments, Fischer credited head coach Beth
Alford-Sullivan for the influence she has had on both him and his teammates.
"She brings a great atmosphere that reverberates to the rest of the team," said
Fischer. "We build off of what she preaches."
This atmosphere has created what Fischer believes is a brotherhood among the
cross country runners.
"I can't imagine any team in the NCAA being closer than we are," said Fischer.
"We're just like a family."
Moving forward, Fischer believes the Nittany Lion's can be successful not just
this season, but also for many seasons to come.
"We want to create a culture where we can compete at the National Championships
every year," said Fischer. "We want to be the team that starts that tradition."
Though he wants to excel individually, Fischer is completely focused on the
goals of the team, not his own personal ones.
"I just want to do whatever I can for the team to be as good as we can be,"
However this season eventually turns out, Fischer is glad that he is a Nittany
"Penn State is the greatest," said Fischer. "I couldn't imagine going to any
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In collegiate athletics, when an athlete goes from
competing against the best in her conference to the best in the country, it is
not surprising for the jump in competition to strike a chord with the athlete.
That is why junior cross country runner Rebekka Simko, who had the opportunity
to compete in the Olympic Trials in the 800 meters this past summer, knew her
experience competing against the best the United States had to offer would be a
life changing one.
"It was a phenomenal experience," said Simko. "Just being there around world
class athletes is unbelievable."
Although she had just set Penn State's school record in the 800 with a 2:03.09
during the outdoor track season, the Ohio native believes the trials completely
increased her motivation after she placed 27th in the field.
"It put everything in a different perspective," said Simko. "Running against
the best gives you completely new goals and aspirations."
The experience not only revamped her desire to train for cross country season,
but also her anticipation for it to begin.
"It really gave my summer training a boost," said Simko. "I couldn't wait for
the first cross country meet."
Although Simko had grown accustomed to training for 800-meter races during
track season, she maintained that the transition to the 6,000-meter for cross
country has gone smoother than some would think.
"The training isn't too much different," said Simko. "There's just more miles
and tempo runs instead of speed work."
Now more than two weeks into the season, Simko has wasted no time displaying
how much her training has paid off, winning the Nittany Lion's first meet, and
finishing fourth in their second.
"She's been doing great," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "She stepped
into cross country this fall with a whole new confidence and level of ability."
Sullivan believes that Simko's performance last year during the outdoor track
season, when she earned Second Team All-American Honors, has paved the way for
her success at cross country.
"She really caught her stride last spring during the outdoor season," said
Sullivan. "It's all really come together for her."
Simko agreed with her coach's sentiment, and stated that she expected this type
of performance from herself.
"I have high expectations for myself," said Simko. "I hoping that I would do
Another role that Simko has embraced along with being a star runner is the role
of team leader.
"I feel like my attitude coming in everyday has been better," said Simko. "It's
been really fun helping everyone out."
Sullivan said that she expected Simko to be one of the team's leaders, and that
she could not be more proud of her for stepping up.
"I told her to be herself and that kids would follow her because she's just a
tremendous young person," said Sullivan.
One of the qualities that Sullivan believes makes Simko such a special leader
and teammate is her sense of humor.
"She's just a wonderful girl but she's really funny," said Sullivan. "She has a
real honest sense of humor."
Simko, for her part, has credited Sullivan's coaching as one of the biggest
factors of her improvement and success.
"I have complete faith in Coach Sullivan," said Simko. "I give her all the
credit and I trust everything she tells me to do."
Along with the guidance of Coach Sullivan, Simko also credits her teammates for
the camaraderie that they have provided her.
"Training with these girls everyday has had an unbelievable impact on me," said
Simko. "We all have different strengths and weaknesses so pulling for each other
makes a huge difference."
Now two meets into the schedule, Simko stressed how excited she is about the
rest of the season.
"I can't wait for the meets to start kicking up in intensity," said Simko. "It
should be really fun."
Already having been named Big Ten Athlete of the Week for her opening meet
performance, Simko believes that both her and teammates can achieve loftier goals
this season if they keep up their dedication.
"As a team we want to win the Big Ten and get to Nationals," said Simko.
"Individually, I'd like to be All Big Ten and All Region."
Simko and her teammates return to competition on Sept 29, when they race at
Louisville at the Greater Louisville Classic.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - As rain poured down at the Blue and White Golf Course
Saturday morning, the Penn State women's cross country team surged to a first
place finish in team standings at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational,
while the men's team took third place.
Competing against a selection of schools that featured Princeton, Navy,
West Virginia, Ohio, Delaware, Georgetown, Rutgers, Geneseo State, St.
Joseph's, and St. Francis, the women's team placed five runners in the top ten
to edge out Princeton 25-52 in points, while the men's squad finished behind
Princeton and Georgetown in points at 25-57-78.
Afterward, head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan remained very positive about not
only the winning performance of the women, but also the grittiness displayed by
"The women really showed up today and had a great day," said Sullivan. "On
the men's side we weren't perfect by any means, but we held our own."
Junior Tori Perri and Sophomore Matt Fischer led their respective squads
with second place finishes, while the women's team also got top ten finishes
from Senior Natalie Bower (third), Junior Rebekka Simko (fourth), Senior
Brooklyne Ridder (sixth), and Sophomore Leigha Anderson (10th).
"Matt Fischer really had a breakout day," said Sullivan. "On the other side
just great racing from Tori, Bekka, Natalie, and Brooklyne with Leigha really
Perri, who finished second overall to Ohio's Julie Accurso with a time of
21:20, seemed to think her high finish was somewhat unexpected.
"I was pretty surprised," said Perri. "Everyone's in really good shape this
year, so I wasn't sure which one of us was going to be up front."
One thing that Perri did attribute her strong showing to was the amount of
dedication she showed in the offseason.
"I trained better this summer than I had before," said Perri. "The training
is finally catching up with me."
Fischer, who made his season debut and finished second to Princeton's
Alejandro Yamin with a 26:07, seemed confident in his ability to place high.
"I felt like I could do pretty well and give a good performance today,"
After opening the season with a pair of victories against Lock Haven last
Saturday, both squads knew they'd be in for a different kind of challenge competing
against an assortment of schools instead of just one.
"In a race like this you really need to be able to run your team strategy
and compete together," said Sullivan.
Although the meet was different from the one they had run a week ago,
runners such as Perri felt as though the larger scale environment was a good
experience for the team to encounter.
"This is more of what college racing is all about," said Perri. "I like that we can get used to it early in
the season and see what we can do."
Another prospect that both squads had to face was the rain, which began
shortly after the women's race began, and ended midway through the men's race.
While the rain certainly didn't make anything easier, both teams maintained
that it did not affect their performance.
"I honestly didn't even notice it," said Perri. "I was so in the mind set
of racing that it wasn't a factor at all."
Fischer agreed that the weather was not a hindrance to the team.
"Rain really doesn't matter," said Fischer. "We workout in this rain and
mud all the time so its kind of fun."
Not only were the squads unfazed by the weather, but they also enjoyed
being back on their home course.
"Our knowledge of the course really paid off," said Sullivan. "We had a nice home opener and I was very
The Nittany Lions do not race again until Sept. 29, when they travel to
Louisville for the Greater Louisville Classic.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, PA - As her teams continued to prepare for their home opener, Penn State
cross country head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan couldn't contain her excitement
for not only the upcoming meet, but also for the entire season as a whole.
"In general, I'm really excited about the season," said Sullivan.
"The kids are really fit and prepared for a challenge."
Both the men's and women's squads will get their next challenge on Saturday
when they open up their home schedule with the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe
Invitational. The meet will begin at 10 a.m. at the Blue and White Golf Course.
"This weekend will be fun," said Sullivan. "Our course is a
great spectator course and it's a really fun place to see our sport."
Sullivan hopes her runners can find the same success on Saturday that they had
this past weekend, when both her squads were victorious against Lock Haven
University at the Dolan Duals.
Although Sullivan was very pleased with the performance of both squads against
Lock Haven, she was particularly impressed with the men's team.
"We felt were going to be strong on the women's side and handle them
pretty well, but on the men's side we didn't run three or four of our top
guys," said Sullivan. "We took some chances but we held onto it
One thing that Sullivan attributes her team's fast start too is the dedication
they displayed during the offseason.
"Their summer training has really paid off," said Sullivan. "They have to do a
lot of independent training and log a lot of miles and they did that."
Senior captain Brooklyne Ridder shared her coach's sentiment regarding how much
the team has benefited from their hard work.
"Coming in and racing the way that we did at Lock Haven definitely showed that
everyone did their summer training and is in really good shape," said Ridder.
Another reason that Sullivan feels has gotten both teams off to a hot start is
the leadership being displayed by senior captains Ridder, Natalie Bower, and
Lindsey Graybill for the women's team, as well as Tyler Corkedale and Thomas
Luff for the men's team.
"They've stepped up their game big time," said Sullivan. "They're physically
very fit but they're also great chemistry people good at bringing the best out
of the group."
While Sullivan has been thrilled with the performance of her captains, they
themselves have been impressed with the hard work being displayed by the new
"The new guys have been great," said Corkedale. "Sometimes freshmen come in
without having done the training but these guys have done everything that they
were supposed to and are in great shape."
Ridder agreed that the freshmen on the women's team have been equally strong.
"The freshmen have been keeping up with us and have definitely come in
trained," said Ridder. "They fit in great with the team and we're really glad
to have them."
If their hard work continues, Sullivan thinks both squads have the potential to
qualify for the NCAA Championships.
"The women will be in contention to win the Big Ten Title and they'll want to
qualify for the National Championships," said Sullivan. "Our men's team will
look to crack the top five of the conference and try and get to the National
Championships as well."
Sullivan acknowledged that these goals are a challenge, but maintained that she
is looking forward to it.
"The whole season is going to be challenging," said Sullivan. "That's something
that I love that about this sport."
Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) capped
an outstanding cross country season last week, leading the Nittany Lion women's
squad to a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, while
turning in a 16th-place finish individually. Lane's All-America effort was the
second-highest finish by a Penn State women in the NCAA era, and the best
Nittany Lion finish in over a decade.
The following is the tenth in a series of
blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane.
Lane is a team captain, Big Ten Champion and NCAA All-American in cross
country. The senior also holds a pair of
school records on the track, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and
outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.
This has been, without a doubt, the most
memorable season I have ever experienced here at Penn State. There were highs
and there were lows but I couldn't have asked for a better team. I started this
season differently than the others, with more confidence and a better base. I
set higher goals and worked as hard as I could to make sure I accomplished
them. We set team goals, and although we fell short on some, we accomplished
more than I think a lot of people thought we could. Finishing 16th
individually and 13th as a team at the National Championships was
the perfect ending to a great cross country career at Penn State. Top 15 was
something that I knew we were capable of and I am so happy and so proud that I
was able to be a part of this team.
It took me all Thanksgiving break to realize
what had really happened at NCAA's. I raced, knowing that I was in contention
to finish in the top 25 the whole way but I didn't think I would be able to
hold the position until the end. As I rounded the bend to the home stretch, I
saw my teammate Bekka Simko, shouting as loud as she could and I was somehow
able to push myself past three, four, maybe five girls. Bekka has been my
roommate a few times this season and I'm convinced she's my lucky charm. I
crossed the finish line and even though I was exhausted, I looked for my
teammates. I saw Kara and then Natalie, Brooklyne, Emily, Abbie and Lindsey
cross the finish line. It was overwhelming watching all the girls stagger
across the finish line and work their way through the crowd. We gathered up and
headed back to the tent, feeling good even though we didn't know the end result
yet. We just knew it was going to be good.
Parents were walking with us, congratulating
us and hugging us. It was so great to have everyone be so proud. They knew how
hard we had worked and it is so nice to have people there that are so
encouraging and love everyone so much. I ran thinking of my dad, who at the
last minute wasn't able to come watch. I thought about how proud he would have
been if he had gotten to watch in person instead of online. After each
kilometer mark that I passed I thought, 'dad would be here, yelling at me, and
in a good way today!' As we walked back to the tent I thought about how much I
wished my family could have been there, but how excited I was to get home and
tell them all about it.
Throughout this season, blogging for
gopsusports.com has been so fun for me. I love running and competing and I love
being able to write about it. For those of you that have been reading and
following us during the season, thank you! Although you might not be at our
meets or cheering us on in person, having supporters all over is special and we
appreciate it so much. To all of our track and field teammates who helped out
at our home meets and cheered us on, thank you for being amazing people and the
best teammates anyone could ask for. I would hate to be from another team with
you guys cheering for us scattered throughout our home course. One word,
intimidating! Thank you to our parents, coaches and friends for always being
supportive and encouraging. And one last thank you, thank you to the girls and
guys on the cross-country team. I'm thankful to have another two seasons with
all of you before I have to say goodbye. You are amazing people and let's make
these next two seasons even better than this one. WE ARE!