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 Following two hard weeks of racing, the Nittany Lions finally enjoyed a few days of rest last weekend, in preparation for this Friday's Penn State National, at the Blue-White Golf Course.  The 20th-ranked Nittany Lions fared well at the recent Notre Dame Invitational, winding up fourth in the team standings, thanks to top 15 finishes from senior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) and Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.).  Both Penn State squads will make their final home-course appearance of the 2011 campaign on Friday, with the men's 5.2-mile race starting things off at 10:00 a.m.


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.           


After a rough go at the Roy Griak Invitational, the women's team went into the Notre Dame Invitational with a vengeance. We needed to prove that we're a better team than we showed in Minnesota. We toed the line and got out fast and made our presence known in the front of the pack. I got out hard and ran with the leaders for as long as I could and then my teammate, Kara Millhouse, got up on my shoulder and pushed me through the end of the race. We both ran about 20 seconds faster and placed around 50 spots better than last year. We're both happy with our personal results and know that we're going to have to keep performing like this to help us achieve our goals of winning the Big Ten Championships and being a top-15 or even top-10 team at the NCAA Championships.


We did a lot of things right in Notre Dame and we need to keep on progressing through the season. This week we've been getting our mileage back up, because it got a little low over the travel weeks, and we're focusing on the next race. Our next challenge will be on our home course at the Penn State National on Friday, October 14th. We will see regional-rival West Virginia and some stiff competition from teams like UConn and Duke.  West Virginia is currently ranked ahead of us in the National rankings, but we are ahead of them in the Regional rankings. Over the past few years we've beaten them at the Regionals, but after red-shirting a few of their key members last year, they will be sure to provide a good race.


After falling in the rankings and then jumping back up to 20th, the women are feeling more confident and ready to prove that we are even better than we've raced. It is Friday, and I'm sitting here at my computer contemplating what today's workout could be. We're headed to the Deer Pens (there is a mile dirt path with a monster hill where we do mile repeats sometimes or a lower path where we do a lot of fartleks) and I have no idea what we could be doing. This always adds a little excitement to the day. While I'm sitting in Stat this afternoon my mind will be racing about all of the possibilities of today's workout.


I'm excited to get the week over with and to start preparing for next Friday. Majority of the team will be lacing up the spikes and racing at the golf course and it will be interesting to see what the line-up is. Our team is constantly improving and it is always exciting to see who will cross the finish line first!

Following the team's eighth-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational, senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and the Nittany Lions will head into their second high-powered competition in as many weeks, traveling to the Adidas Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.  The Nittany Lions, who were fifth on the men's side at Griak, will once again have their hands full, as the field is set to feature top-rated programs from around the country, including the number-two ranked New Mexico women, and the third-ranked Stanford men.  Races are slated to get underway at 3:30 p.m., on Friday afternoon at the Notre Dame Golf Course.


Coming off low-key competitions at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals, and the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, the Nittany Lion cross country squads will hit the road for the first time this season, toeing the line at the high-powered Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota this weekend.  Competition is set for Saturday, September 24, with the men's 8,000-meter race slated for a 12:20 p.m., CDT, start, and the women's 6,000-meter run scheduled to follow at 1:10 p.m.

Nittany Lions Gain Experience at Spiked Shoe Invitational

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- On a crisp morning in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country teams hosted the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational.


With a rigorous upcoming schedule, coach Beth Alford-Sullivan decided to rest the men's and women's varsity squads.


"We took this race really low key," said Alford-Sullivan. "We sat our varsity squads so we really weren't expecting much of a team score. Our young runners gained a lot of experience as we gave them the opportunity to race on our home course."


Leading the way for the women's team were sophomores Lucia Sofo and Marta Klebe.  Sofo, placing 25th out of a field of 116 runners, posted a time of 22:51. She was immediately followed by teammate Klebe, who finished 26th and matched the time of Sofo. The tandem stuck together for the majority of the 6,000-meter race, using it as a strategy to push one another.


"I really enjoyed kicking it in with Marta [Klebe] at the end of the race," said Sofo. "It really felt as if we were working as a team out there and pushing each other."


As for the course conditions, it was a cloudy day in State College and a bit chillier than it traditionally is during this time in September.

"The conditions were great," said Klebe. "The cold really didn't bother me at all, it was perfect cross country weather."


"This is my favorite course," added Sofo. "It is pretty hilly, but the conditions were good and I felt great out there. This is my seventh time running this course including high school meets."


The No. 1-ranked Georgetown Hoyas placed first in the women's field, with six of their nine runners coming in the top ten in the race. Freshman Hannah Neczypor placed first overall, with a time of 21:05. The Nittany Lions placed fifth as a team.


On the men's side, junior Colin Anderson was the first Nittany Lion to cross the line, with a time of 27:07. Anderson was followed by sophomore Colin Baker, who crossed the line at 27:34. Both men placed in the top 25 in 5.2 mile race.


"It's starting to feel like cross country season out here," said Baker. "My strategy was to start off fast so I didn't get stuck in the back. I went out a little harder than I wanted to but I just tried to hang on and close as hard as I could."


The men's team didn't officially place, as they were ruled as an incomplete team for not having enough runners participate. SUNY Geneseo took home the top team spot, as four of their nine runners finished in the top ten. Geneseo senior Lee Berube took home the individual crown at 25:54.


The Nittany Lions can be seen in action next at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sept. 24. The next time Penn State will lace up for their home course will be on Oct. 14, for the Penn State National.

6922210.jpegThe Nittany Lion cross country squads will take to their home course for the first time this season, competing at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at the Blue-White Golf Courses. The women's race is slated to get underway at 10:00 a.m., with the men's collegiate competition scheduled for a 10:45 a.m., start.

The following is the first 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 4x800-meter relay (8:39.44) outdoors.

Life in the Fast "Lane " with Caitlin and the Nittany Lions ...

We are just two days out from our first home meet of the season! The Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational is a college and high school meet named after legendary cross-country and track coach Harry Groves who coached at Penn State for 38 years. While the "top nine" from both the men and women's squads will be sitting out in preparation for next week's Roy Griak Invitational, it is time for a lot of the younger girls to have the spotlight. This race will be a big contributing factor to see who gets to travel in a few weeks to Notre Dame for the Notre Dame Invitational.

For the men and women sitting out, this will be a weekend where we train through. We will work out on the perfectly manicured Penn State golf course on Friday, (where Spiked Shoe and the Penn State National is held), and then get to the course bright and early on Saturday to cheer on our teammates racing.

The ladies that will be lacing up for this weekend's competition are junior Colleen Shannon, sophomores Matra Klebe, Kalyn Fisher, Markea Dickinson, Lucia Sofo, Gwenn Porter, and Dani Kocjancic. The freshmen that will be racing at home for the first time are Kerrin Jennings, Leigha Anderson, Rachael Casciano and Lauren Mills.


This will be a bit of a challenge for our freshman considering it will be their first 6k, on a very challenging course. However, after a great pre-season and a great first race at the Lock Haven Dolan Duels, I think our group of girls will hold their own against the competition and make Penn State proud.


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