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!