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Busy March Begins with Two Big Ten Team Titles

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The postseason push for Penn State teams in March is on.

The first weekend of the month kicked off in fine fashion with two teams tallying Big Ten championships to go along with an individual being named the top performer at the Big Ten Men's Swimming & Diving Championships.

In dramatic fashion, the Nittany Lion women's track & field team notched its third conference crown at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon.  It all came down to the 4x400-meter relay with the Lions leading Michigan by just half a point heading into the final event.  The Lions stormed to a victory in the relay to seal the title.

"The women were outstanding today," said Director of Track & Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Michigan pressed us hard throughout the weekend, but we kept our composure and competed great. This is a championship win to remember."

Roughly 45 minutes after the women's track & field team was crowned champion, the Lady Lion basketball team finished off a 77-62 triumph over Michigan to clinch a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular season title.  The Lady Lions join Ohio State and Iowa as the only programs to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.

"It's the first time in program history that we have won three Big Ten Championships in a row," head coach Coquese Washington said. "When this program has such a storied legacy, to be able to do something that this program hasn't done before, it's pretty hard. The program has accomplished so much and for this class and team to do something that sets them apart, that's really cool."

In the pool, sophomore Shane Ryan capped off a strong outing for the Nittany Lion men's swimming team by becoming the first Penn State men's swimmer to be named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday.  Ryan broke the Big Ten record in the 100m freestyle, topping a mark set by former Northwestern Wildcat and 2012 London Olympics medalist Matt Grevers.  Ryan is the first Nittany Lion to win two individual gold medals at the Big Ten Championships.  His efforts powered the men's team to fifth in the team standings.  The men's team's performance came one week after the Nittany Lion women's swimming & diving team took third at the Big Ten Women's Championships.

With a standout weekend in the books, the Nittany Lions are full steam ahead in postseason mode beginning on Friday when the Lady Lions kick off play as the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis.  Penn State will meet either Northwestern or Ohio State at noon (BTN) on Friday.  The semifinals take place on Saturday, with the tournament final on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 

On Saturday, the three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team will begin its Big Ten title defense at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.  Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions will look for their fourth-straight Big Ten title over the weekend.  Additionally, seniors Ed Ruth and David Taylor have an opportunity to become Penn State's first four-time Big Ten individual champions.  Junior Matt Brown is the third Nittany Lion in the lineup with a Big Ten individual title.  The Big Ten finals will air live on BTN Sunday at 2 p.m.

There are several marquee events on the horizon following the action this weekend.  The 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is slated to begin on March 13 in Indianapolis.  The Nittany Lion men's hoops team will finish off its regular season this week with games at Northwestern and Minnesota.  The Lions will learn their seed for the tournament on Sunday.

The track and field squads will also be in action during the third weekend in March.  Penn State will travel to Albaquerque for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.

Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion football team will wrap up winter conditioning this week in preparation for the start of spring practice on March 17.  The Nittany Lions will practice 15 times before the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m.).

The fourth weekend of March will feature no fewer than six postseason events for Penn State teams.  The No. 1 wrestling team will begin its NCAA title defense on March 20 in Oklahoma City at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships.  The finals will take place on March 22.  The ESPN family of networks will televise all six of the NCAA Wrestling Championships sessions.

In Happy Valley, the women's gymnastics team plays host to the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall on March 22.  Across campus, the Bryce Jordan Center is slated to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.  Games are slated for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23 and 7 p.m. on March 25.

Out of town, the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament will take place in Saint Paul, Minn., beginning on March 20.  The NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships begin on March 20 in Minneapolis, as well.  The Penn State fencing teams also kick of NCAA Championships competition in Columbus on March 20.

The month will wrap up with a weekend featuring the NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, which begin on March 27 in Austin, Texas.  The Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships begin on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.

With two titles already in hand, it will be a busy month ahead for Penn State teams competing in postseason competition.  Stay tuned for complete coverage of the postseason push on GoPSUsports.com.


Key Dates Ahead in March

March 7 -
Noon (BTN) - Lady Lions vs. Ohio State/Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals - Indianapolis)
March 8 - 11 a.m./6 p.m. - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 9
- 12/2 p.m. (BTN) - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 13-16 - Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (Indianapolis)
March 14-15 - NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.)
March 17 - First Day of Spring Football
March 20-22 - NCAA Wrestling Championships (Oklahoma City, Okla.); NCAA Fencing Championships (Columbus, Ohio); NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.); Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament (Saint Paul, Minn.)
March 22 - 12/5 p.m. - Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships (University Park, Pa.)
March 23 - 12:30/3 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball First Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 25 - 7 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball Second Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 27-29 - NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships (Austin, Texas)
March 28-29 - Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)



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VIDEO: All Access Winter Workouts - Coach Spencer Mic'd Up

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Take an inside look at one of Penn State's 5:30 a.m. workouts with defensive line coach Sean "Chaos" Spencer.  We had Coach Spencer mic'd up for a morning session to give you an exclusive look at winter workouts.  The Nittany Lions have one more week of winter workouts before spring break.  Spring drills begin on March 17.





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VIDEO: All Access Winter Workouts - Coach Huff Mic'd Up

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Take an inside look at one of Penn State's 5:30 a.m. workouts with special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff.  We had Coach Huff mic'd up for a session.





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Penn State Athletics THON 2014 Coverage

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.  THON raised a record of more than $13.3 million in 2014.  To date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.

Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance marathon.  Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball, Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.


Additionally, Nicole Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.

Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.

We would also like to congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.


Friday Coverage:

3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer

Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story


6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.

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11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.


Saturday Coverage:

3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.

More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event



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5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday.  Take a look.




9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally.  In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally



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Team Dances
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance


11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.



Sunday Coverage:

12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014

Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon.  Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.



 
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014.  Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.

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VIDEO: James Franklin Addresses THON Crowd

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon.  Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.






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VIDEO: Football THON 2014 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several freshman members of the Nittany Lion football team show off their dance moves at the THON 2014 Pep Rally.



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VIDEO: Nittany Lions Host THON Make-A-Wish Event

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.



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VIDEO: Football Participates in THON 2014 'No Hair, Don't Care'

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin, members of the staff and several Nittany Lion players showed their support for THON 2014 on Monday evening by participating in the second annual "No Hair, Don't Care" fundraiser in preparation for this weekend's 46-hour Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.

Evolve Studio, located on W. Beaver Ave., opened its doors to students willing to shave their heads to provide support for the Four Diamonds children and their families leading up to THON 2014.  When Coach Franklin and the staff heard about the opportunity to show their support, they immediately signed on for a trim.  Participants donated $10 to get their heads shaved, with all of the proceeds going towards THON.

Joining Franklin in the "No Hair, Don't Care" campaign for THON were special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff, defensive line coach Sean Spencer, football chief of staff Jemal Griffin, recruiting graduate assistant Bob Snopek and a host of Nittany Lion players.  Take a look.




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VIDEO: Football Winter Conditioning Underway

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With signing day in the books, head coach James Franklin and the coaching staff got their first taste of an early-morning winter workout on Tuesday.

The Nittany Lions commenced their first workout with the coaching staff in attendance at 5:15 a.m. inside Holuba Hall on Tuesday.  A high-energy session from start to finish, the Lions worked through conditioning stations before battling in offense vs. defense, one-on-one competition in the "tire pull".

Take a look.



VIDEO: Franklin, Nittany Lions Celebrate Class on Signing Day

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Signing Day Central - Complete Bios, Highlights & More


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin and the Penn State staff celebrated the signing of a top-25 recruiting class with the formal announcement of all 25 signees for 2014 in the Lasch Football Building and at 'The Signature Event' in the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday.

9676242.jpeg"It was an exciting day for us, you know, the staff and the team has worked really, really hard at putting this class together, so today was really about celebrating the class and I thought we did a great job of that," said Franklin.

Braving several inches of snow, Franklin walked out of the hotel he is staying in at 5:38 a.m. ready for the signing day festivities to begin.  The entire football staff was inside the Lasch Building before 6:30 a.m. with an eye on the fax machine just outside the back door of Franklin's office.

The fax machine began to ring just after 7 a.m., and linebacker Jason Cabinda had the honor of sending the first approved national letter of intent.  Special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff emerged from behind a blue curtain, walked to a podium in the Penn State war room and announced the signing of Cabinda to a rousing cheer from more than 60 staff members and supporters.

"With the first pick, from Flemington, New Jersey, linebacker, Jason Cabinda," Huff said at the podium in the front of the war room.

Coach Franklin placed Cabinda's bio magnet on the Penn State Signing Day "Big Board", and the celebration began on an exciting day for Nittany Lion football.

As the 20 faxed letters of intent were approved on Wednesday, each signee had his own announcement.  The announcements often included the signees and their families, who called in via Skype or FaceTime and were then projected on a big screen to watch the festivities.

Franklin and the staff could not have been prouder to make the announcement of all 25 signees (including the five early enrollees already on campus).

"I know how hard this coaching staff has worked as well as the administrative staff and our players as well as hosts and things like that," Franklin said.  "These coaches have not had a day off since June when we started camp, so today is a celebration of all the hard work they have put in."

Representatives from across campus and the football staff participated in the announcement process.  Director of Athletics Dave Joyner, Michael Mauti, Brad "Spider" Caldwell, Steve Jones, the Blue Band, cheerleaders and Nittanyville were among those who made an appearance.  The excitement surrounding the signing day festivities was infectious, and everyone in the room felt like a part of the football family.

The football staff put in a year's worth of recruiting work in a small window of time.  Franklin was hired on Jan. 11, just 25 days before signing day.  His staff was in place in the days following, and the group had no time to breathe as they worked to secure the signing class of 2014.

Moving at a torrid pace across the country with virtually no sleep, the staff secured a talented class ranked in the top 25 by Rivals, Scout, 247 Sports and ESPN.  In the final week of recruiting, alone, Franklin visited New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Arizona, California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Georgia.  His travels through the topped 8,900 miles in the final six days coaches were permitted to travel under NCAA rules.

Wake up calls on the road are typically at or before 5 a.m., and bedtime is regularly at midnight or later.

That effort is what makes signing day so gratifying for the coaches, and it is why Franklin led a celebration on Wednesday morning in the Lasch Building and with the Penn State fans during the evening inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

The staff will receive a few days off to work on moving their families and belongings to State College before getting back to the grind on Monday.

The Blue-White Game is 65 days away.


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