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After Opening Meet Victories, Sullivan Looks Forward to Season

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY 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.

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"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 really well."

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 freshmen.

"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!


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Life in the Fast "Lane" ... It's NCAA Eve!

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Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and the rest of the No. 21 Nittany Lion women's cross country team will lay it all on the line on Monday, competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.  Following a full fall of racing action, the Nittany Lions are set to make a dent in the women's team standings, along with individual men's entrants Kyle Dawson (Coateville, Pa.) and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.).

 

The following is the ninth in a series of blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane. Lane is a team captain, as well as an NCAA all-region standout in cross country, and an NCAA qualifier in track and field. The senior also holds a pair of school records, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.

 

It is finally time. NCAA's is tomorrow! It has been a crazy season, one that I will never forget. We've gotten ourselves here and now we need to take advantage of the opportunity we have to be better than we've ever been. When we had our annual dinner at Coach Sullivan's house, we talked about how there are two kinds of people who will be on the line tomorrow. There are the people who are excited to just have the opportunity to race, and then there are the people who will leave everything on the course because they are here on a mission. I believe that we are here on a mission. We've been the team that is excited to be there, but this year, I feel that we are different. We are here to be better than ever.

           

We arrived in Terre Haute Saturday morning and got comfortable in our hotel before we headed out to the golf course that we've run at the past few years. We just had an easy day with a few strides to get the legs going before we hopped back in the vans to get ready for the banquet! I always enjoy the banquet a lot because I get to dress up! I hardly ever dress up so I always get excited when I get to put on a dress. It is a nice break from the standard shorts and t-shirts that consume most of my wardrobe. The girls, Kyle, Vince and I got out picture taken in front of the NCAA banner and headed downstairs to find our table and grab some grub. The food was great, as always, and I got to see one of my best friends from home. My prom date, Brian Rhodes-Devey! I love seeing old friends and getting to catch up, even if it is just for a few minutes.

           

The banquet was long but was one I will remember. Living legend, Frank Shorter spoke to everyone about his experiences and race strategy. While he told us not to necessarily take his advice, it was a great experience to hear from someone I've looked up to and known about since I was a little kid. I'd say that this years' speaker was my favorite, I'm sure my dad is really jealous!

           

This morning we headed to the Nike Hospitality Suite. Nike is always so great and provides us with amazing gear. The headband and gloves were a hit and I will wear them everyday this winter. After Nike, we headed to the course for pre-meet. The ladies rocked our new hot pink Nike top while the guys wore their sweet new jackets. Not going to lie, we looked really good. Pre-meet went great and the course, while a tiny but muddy, was in great shape.

           

It is truly unbelievable to think that NCAA's is finally here. This season has been so special to me, and I am sad that tomorrow it all comes to an end. I know I am going to go out with a bang and leave everything out there for my teammates. We've worked so hard and we are ready to make some noise tomorrow. We will be rocking our spiffy, white uniforms so while you are all watching the live feed on NCAA.com you can look for us! WE ARE!

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Life in the Fast "Lane" ... NCAA Bids on the Line

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Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), coming off her first-career Big Ten individual title, will look to lead the Nittany Lions to another outstanding effort, this weekend at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in Princess Anne, Md.  Lane, along with fellow senior captain Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) and the rest of the No. 22 Nittany Lions, will have their work cut out for them, vying for an NCAA qualifying bid against No. 2 Villanova, No. 7 Georgetown, and No. 13 West Virginia.

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The following is the ninth in a series of blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane. Lane is a team captain, as well as an NCAA all-region standout in cross country, and an NCAA qualifier in track and field. The senior also holds a pair of school records, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.


On to the Regional Championships...


On Saturday morning, the athletes on the Penn State Cross Country team will step to the line at the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships with heavy hearts and profound pride in our team. This week has been a tough one for Penn State. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and fight for what we want and what we believe in. We want to represent our school at the National Championships. While qualifying is a possibility, we will put everything on the line to make a statement that we have become a top ten NCAA program.

           

Big Tens was a blur for me. I still can't believe I walked away the champ. But as exciting as it was, I've moved on. There are bigger and better things to accomplish this season. Since the Big Ten Championships, we have focused on recovery and getting pumped for this weekend. We had several light training days after we arrived back in Happy Valley but then got right back into the swing of things. We haven't let coming up a tiny bit short at Big Tens distract us from our other goals.

           

This weekend is going to be a challenge. Villanova, Georgetown and West Virginia are going to be formidable. The stiff competition will push us harder than we've been pushed so far this season. I hope we step up to the challenge and surprise people. As well as we have done this season; we are without a doubt the underdog. I love the position we are in as we get ready for Saturday's competition. We left Big Tens "pleased" but with a little chip on our shoulders. We wanted to win. The chances of us winning this weekend, I'll just come out and say it, are slim. We compete in one of, if not the toughest region in the country, and winning isn't the goal. But being close is. Coach Sullivan sat us down and we reevaluated our goals. The Penn State women's team has never gone to the Regional Championships trying to get an auto-bid. That is exactly what we are going to try to do this weekend. Why not? We have nothing to lose. If we go for it, it only makes our chances better.

           

Being top two in the Regional is a lofty goal. One that I know I am willing to try to achieve. I believe the other girls on my team are up to the challenge as well. This season has gone by so quickly, I've almost forgotten to take everything in. Realizing that, in the blink of an eye, it's my senior year, my last cross-country season with these girls. It is crazy to think about. There are moments from this season I will never forget. I am extremely excited to see what the next few weeks hold for us. The first step will be in Princess Anne, Maryland on Saturday. I'm excited for the opportunity to help take our program to the next level.    

Life in the Fast "Lane" ... A Winning Afternoon

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Senior Caitlin Lane took top honors at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships last Sunday, becoming the third Big Ten individual champion in the history of the women's program, and the third in the last three years, following Kim McGreevy in 1996, and Bridget Franek in 2009.  Lane unleashed a blistering kick to cross the finish line in 19:58 over the 6,000-meter course and lead her team to a third-place finish in the team standings.

 

The following is the eighth of a series of blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.). Lane is a team captain, as well as an NCAA all-region standout in cross country, and an NCAA qualifier in track and field. The senior also holds a pair of school records, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.


Big Ten Championship Recap

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I'm not normally one to be at a loss for words. But trying to put together something to say right now is very difficult. I've pictured crossing the finish line first at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships hundreds of times, but I never imagined what it would actually feel like. It's an unbelievable feeling. I have been a part of four Big Ten Championship teams, and I didn't think anything could compare, but Sunday was a special day, and one I will never forget. Thank you to my coaches, my parents and family, my friends and most importantly my teammates. There is no way I could have done it without every single one of you. Knowing that you all believed in me helped me more than you know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

           

We toed the line at the Big Ten Championships thinking that anything could happen. We just had to compete. Race the race. We competed and we raced hard. We came up short, but there is no reason we can't all hold our heads high. We were 3rd place in a talented field. We scored 71 points, the same amount of points we scored in 2009 when we won and later placed 14th at the NCAA Championships. Although we didn't win, we accomplished a lot. Kara Millhouse and Emily Gianotti had great races finishing in 7th and 14th, both placing much better than the year before. Juniors Natalie Bower and Brooklyne Ridder rounded out the top-5 finishing in 24th and 25th helping us secure 3rd place. Abbie Benson, Lindsey Graybill, Katie Rodden and Bekka Simko all put together great races in a challenging field. I am so proud of these girls and all that we have accomplished this season.

           

While we may be upset with the team result of Big Tens, we need to move on. There are bigger and better things still ahead of us. The Mid-Atlantic Regional is next weekend at Maryland Eastern Shore where we will face top ten powerhouses Villanova and Georgetown. We will also face nationally ranked West Virginia who we saw just a few weeks ago and we will try to redeem ourselves against them. We moved up to 22nd in the country and I hope we keep on climbing. The best team I've been on was 14th and I think we have the legs to do that and better.

           

This week is all about recovery and getting fired up for next weekend. Regionals is so important because it is the deciding factor for getting to NCAA's. We need to give it everything we have because I know that I don't want to be sitting at home when people are lacing up their spikes on Monday, November 20th. This is the real deal. I can hardly sit still in my chair while I type this. The excitement from Sunday and the excitement looking forward to next weekend is overwhelming (making it hard for me to pay attention in class too!). I cannot wait to lace up my bright orange spikes in a little less than two weeks!

Life in the Fast "Lane" ... It's BIG TEN TIME!

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With a full fall of racing already under their belts, the Nittany Lions will begin the "championship" portion of their season this weekend, traveling to the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at the University of Illinois.  Both squads turned in fourth-place efforts at the 2010 conference meet, and will be looking for even more success in 2011.


The following is the seventh of a series of blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.). Lane is a team captain, as well as an NCAA all-region standout in cross country, and an NCAA qualifier in track and field. The senior also holds a pair of school records, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.


Big Ten Championships 2011


Over the past two weeks, we've been trying to find our spark. I don't know if we necessarily found it, but I'm not sure we need it. There is no doubt in my mind that we all want to be champions, and there is no doubt that we know how to do it. I believe in the girls on my team, and I hope they believe in me. We've worked hard and we deserve to leave champions. But who's to say we deserve it more than anyone else? That is what we need to remember. Everyone has put in the work and everyone thinks they deserve to win. It is how you handle the pressure and what you leave on the course that determines who gets to be crowned Big Ten Champions.


The hay is in the barn, as they say, so there is nothing we can do now running wise to help us on Sunday. We can, however, prepare mentally. If we can keep our cool and not stress about this weekend we can do great things. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to be Big Ten Champions. This is not going to be easy. Just like every competition we've faced this year, it's going to be a challenge. But if we get scared and ease up when the race gets tough, then we don't deserve to win. When the going gets tough, we have to get tougher. If we can get ourselves up in the front and stay there, we will be able to walk away with our heads held high.           


It's my senior year. My last Big Ten Cross Country Championship. I will do everything I can to help my team walk away with the title. There is no more, 'oh, I have next year.' This is it. I want to leave Illinois feeling the way I did in 2009 when we won. Through my whole career here there has been no better feeling than when the ten or eleven of us were standing in a huddle waiting for the results, secretly knowing that we had won. It didn't matter how tired we were, we jumped up and down in celebration anyway. We cheered, we cried and we screamed. To this day, nothing really compares.     

     

I'm confident in my girls, and I'm confident in myself. We can get the job done. Winning a championship is worth the pain. It is worth pushing that extra little bit even if you don't want to. We only get four opportunities to win a cross-country Big Ten title. We're going in on a mission and I'd be scared if I was you! WE ARE!


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The Nittany Lion cross country squads closed out their home schedule this past weekend, competing in a rain-soaked Penn State National, where the men's team scored a victory in the team standings, and the women's squad turned in a third-place effort.  Senior Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) led the men with a third-place finish individually, while seniors Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) and Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) posted fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively, on the women's side.

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The following is the sixth in of a series of blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.). Lane is a team captain, as well as an NCAA all-region standout in cross country, and an NCAA qualifier in track and field. The senior also holds a pair of school records, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.


My last race at home was a little anti-climactic. I wish I could say I left everything out on the course, but I'm afraid I didn't. Looking back, I know I am at the level that the leaders ran at and hopefully in the next races I will be able to prove that. I also have to say that I'm a little disappointed with how the team placed. We placed third behind West Virginia and UConn. I feel like some members of the team aren't grasping how great we could be if we all connected and ran great on the same day. Hopefully Big Tens will be that moment and we will walk away champions. But we'll just have to wait and see.


With the conclusion of the Penn State National it is now, BIG TEN TIME! Basically Big Ten Time is when regular season competitions are over and we are in Championship Season. The women's team has a tradition that about ten days out from Big Tens we have "Theme Days." While these may seem silly we have a lot of fun and it really gets us ready for Big Tens. Power color day, Ninja day, crazy hair day and costume day have just been a number of the themes we have done. Be prepared to see a whole bunch of crazy looking girls running through campus over the next two weeks.


Whenever we get to championship season I am reminded of where I've been and how far I've come. I was fortunate enough when I was a youngster to compete in a variety of different meets. Starting at the age of 7, I competed at the USATF and AAU Championships where I was able to travel to Disney World, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine and more. I had parents who wanted me to get all the experience I could because they knew at some point I'd be where I am today. I continued to be able to take part in amazing experiences through high school where I was fortunate enough to race and have my team win at Nike Team Nationals and I competed at the Foot Locker National Championships. I am thankful for all of the experiences I've had and for all of the teammates that helped me grow and mature along the way.

Not only have I had many experiences, but I've had great influences as well. Obviously, my former teammate and Nike Steeple all-star Bridget Franek helped me grow so much my freshman and sophomore years. Without her guidance and the help of the other juniors and seniors I wouldn't be where I am today. Also, I was lucky enough to have my best friend, training partner and partner in crime be Nicole Blood. For those of you who don't know, shame on you, Nicole will go down in the history books as one of the greatest high school runners of all time. Nicole went on to become an Oregon Duck; she is a 9-time All-American, school record holder and 4-time Pac-Ten champion. With training partners like these, how can you not be inspired? Bridget and Nicole are training partners that you hope you have. I was lucky enough to have both.


Thinking about Big Tens, Regionals and Nationals makes me excited. We have such a talented team and I can't wait to see how these meets play out. If everyone can work together and race how I know they can we are a force to be reckoned with. When I think about all of the teammates that have helped me along the way, I can only hope that I've played a small part in the lives of my teammates now as well. Let's regroup and get ready to head into Big Tens with a mission and one goal in mind. To leave as Big Ten CHAMPIONS!


Lions Find Success on Muddy Blue and White Course

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The rain and mud couldn't stop the Penn State men's and women's cross country teams on Friday morning at the Penn State National, as they turned in first and third place efforts, respectively.

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The men's race started out at a very fast yet slippery pace as the stampede headed down a fairway on the Blue and White Golf Course. The grueling 5.2-mile race twisted and turned around bunkers, cart paths and trees, ultimately bringing some runners down into the muddy mess.

As many runners cleared the halfway mark in the competition, a pack of Nittany Lions turned on their afterburners and helped propel each other to the finish. Leading the pack for Penn State was senior Kyle Dawson.

"I feel pretty good about how I ran," said Dawson. "The conditions weren't that big of a concern because they affected everyone in the same way. We ran really hard as a team."

For seniors Kyle and Owen Dawson, Chris Cipro, and Vince McNally, this was the final home meet they would run in a Nittany Lions uniform. "It's bittersweet," said Owen Dawson.

As some were bringing their Nittany Lion cross country career to an end, others were just beginning...and showing much promise for the future.

Among the promising young runners was true freshman Wade Endress, who placed 20th overall with a time of 27:05 as the Nittany Lions fifth man across the line. Endress' effort was very impressive, given the weather conditions and this meet being his first home appearance as a Nittany Lion.

"I looked up about midway through the race and saw a pack of our guys ahead of me," said Endress. "I just started to pick off as many guys as possible to help bring up the pack."

Following the men's race, the steady rain turned to an all out downpour as the Penn State women warmed up for their 6,000-meter race. Right off the starting line, seniors Caitlin Lane and Kara Millhouse led the field of nearly 270 runners.

"It was really helpful to run together," said Millhouse. "Sticking together has helped Caitlin [Lane] and I throughout most of the season and I think it can really help us heading into the Big Ten Championships."

As the ladies trekked on, the competition proved to be almost as heavy as the rain.

"We knew the field would be tough," said Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "West Virginia gave us a tough run. They are very talented and staying up with them and UCONN was one of our goals today."

Lane and Millhouse maintained their positions atop the Nittany Lion field, but were overtaken by a pair of West Virginia runners and a Connecticut sophomore before the final mile.

"Watching Kara [Millhouse] throughout the last mile gave me a lot of confidence," said Lane. "I just had to keep pushing and try and go get her."

Millhouse finished fourth overall, with a time of 21:14, and was immediately followed by Lane just three seconds later.

The Nittany Lions wrapped up their regular season on Friday morning, and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as they enter the championship season.

"The coming weeks will be really tough," said Lane. "We have put in the work as a team, and it will really be anyone's race at the championships, so I am excited to see the outcome."

The cross country team is back in action at the Big Ten Championships, which will be held at Illinois on Oct. 30.

For Dawson Twins, Last Home Meet is Bittersweet

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- "Whenever you lose athletes to graduation it is always tough,' said Beth Alford-Sullivan, head coach of the Penn State cross country team. "But losing a set of twins like this, it is a double-punch."

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Redshirt seniors Kyle and Owen Dawson have been competitive their entire lives...and when it comes to cross country and track, the brothers use this competitiveness to excel.

"I always want to beat my brother," said Owen Dawson. "And I know he always wants to beat me."


The duo came to Penn State after much success in high school, and has carried that success on in Happy Valley. Kyle, a distance specialist, has turned in All-Region efforts and been the number one runner for the Nittany Lion cross country team for most of his career. Owen, who specializes in mid-distance, has seen tremendous success around the track with an eighth place All-American finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 800-meter race in 2010.

"In cross country, these two have just been a great tandem," said Alford-Sullivan. "Kyle has been our number one guy for the majority of his career and Owen has been the guy that sweeps it up for us and brings it home for the team."

On Friday, the duo will be running its final home meet in a Nittany Lion uniform.

"I have mixed feelings towards it," said Kyle. "It is exciting to finish this chapter in my running career but it will be emotional putting on the Penn State uniform for the last time at home."


The meet, the Penn State National, will be held at the Blue/White Golf Course on Friday morning and serves as a very important race for the Dawson brothers and the team as a whole. The Nittany Lions will see some tough competition as they run their final race before the championship season.

"I love our course," said Kyle. "I have had success there in the past and it is sad that this is my last time running it for Penn State."

Last season, Kyle finished second overall in the 5.2-mile race at the Penn State National with a time of 25:24. Owen trailed his brother by only 40 seconds, finishing 30th overall. The brothers helped propel the Nittany Lions to a second place overall finish at the meet.

By no means will these runners be hanging up their spikes following graduation in May.

"I'm not going to focus on what is in store for me after this year just yet, said Owen. "I am here to run. This is my last season, and when it comes down to it, I am here to focus on running."


Both brothers implied that they will look to continue their careers post-college, but cannot have any firm plans on who could sponsor or coach them due to NCAA regulations.

In future seasons, the Nittany Lions will face the pressing task of replacing the success and leadership that the Dawson twins brought to University Park.

"We will be able to find replacement in their leadership because they have done an outstanding job setting a great example and carrying on strong tradition," said Alford-Sullivan. "Not only have they been great athletes, but they have been perfect examples of the kind of greatness and toughness it takes to succeed here at Penn State."

At 10 a.m. on Friday, the gun will go off, and the Dawson twins will cover the grounds of the Blue and White Course one last time as Nittany Lions.

"Not only are these guys quality athletes," said Alford-Sullivan. "They are quality people."


The Nittany Lions will take to their home course for the final time on Friday, hosting the Penn tate National, beginning at 10:00 a.m.  It will be the last home appearance for seniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) on the women's side, and Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.), Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) from the men's roster.

The following is the fourth in of a series of blog posts from senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.). Lane is a team captain, as well as an NCAA all-region standout in cross country, and an NCAA qualifier in track and field. The senior also holds a pair of school records, including the indoor 1,000-meters (2:45.95), and outdoor 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors


As I sit here at my desk thinking about tomorrow's competition, I can't help but get excited. However, the more I think about it, the more upset I get. Tomorrow morning at 11 a.m., I will race for the last time on the Blue and White Golf Course. Kara Millhouse, Chris Cipro, Vince McNally, Owen Dawson, Kyle Dawson and I will lace up our spikes for the last time at home this weekend, and will be recognized as the six seniors for the 2011 cross-country squad after the competition is complete. There is no other way to describe it than bittersweet. I'm upset because it is my last time on the home course and because I feel like I've finally figured out how to race it, but I'm happy and excited because it means that championship season is coming. But more about that later...

            Friday morning the men's race will kick off the competition at 10 a.m., with the Nittany Lions toeing the line against, what should be there biggest competition for the day, Grand Valley State who is ranked 3rd in DIII. On the women's side, we will see a little more competition. We will match up with West Virginia who is ranked 19th in the Nation, just one spot ahead of us. We will focus on their yellow and blue uniforms and try to stay ahead of as many of them as we can. Teams that will also make a run at us are UConn and Duke. While UConn is unranked, Duke is ranked 26th so we want to make sure we can prove that we deserve our ranking and we can do that by staying ahead of Duke and beating West Virginia. It will not be easy; all the teams will provide a different challenge for us. What we need to do is run tough and push all the way through the line.

            The Blue and White golf course, where the Penn State National is held, is a challenging 6-kilometer course. Even though the first mile is all downhill, it is important to conserve some energy for the last mile and a half. After about two miles we start to make the climb to the finish. This is when we will really need to stay tough. Coach Sullivan always says, "This is where the rubber hits the road." What she means by this is that this is where the pain starts to sink in. This is where the course separates the women from the girls. We have to remember that the reward of working hard and pushing through the pain is better than the feeling of defeat. It is the greatest feeling in the world to cross the finish line and be happy with your race. Of course there are going to be things you can do better, there always are. But hopefully tomorrow the Penn State men and women will put everything on the line and push until the end. If we can do that tomorrow, I am sure that we will be happy with the outcome and we will gain confidence going into Championship season.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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