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Nittany Lions Set for NCAA Regionals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's golf is headed to Columbus, Ohio, set to make its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA regionals.

Following a fast and furious end to the regular season, the Nittany Lions blazed through the Big Ten Championships, returning to Happy Valley just in time for final exams. Taking into account the busy finish, Penn State head coach Greg Nye opted to give his team some time to take a deep breath before diving into NCAA preparations. 

It was just a little more than a year ago that the Nittany Lions were prepping for a cross-country road trip to the Washington Regional with a certain level of uncharted uncertainty in terms of course familiarity.

That won't be the case this year.

"We played well the last few weeks and we earned our way to Columbus rather than being shipped to the south so that's exciting that we've got a chance to go back to Columbus where we've played several times," Nye said. "That ramps up a lot enthusiasm there." 

While course familiarity is certainly a major benefit, the Nittany Lions have the potential to build on the success of a nearly identical lineup from last year.

Among the group is senior first team All-Big Ten selection Cole Miller. Alongside Miller is sophomore Ryan Davis, who most recently advanced in the U.S. Open local qualifier, along with assistant coach T.J. Howe.

"It's exciting we've got two of our players who have gotten through local qualifying and I was fortunate enough to do it as well so that's nice," Howe said. 

While all three will now have the opportunity to move on to the U.S. Open sectionals, the entire lineup will turn toward the Scarlet Course, which awaits Penn State at the Ohio State Golf Club May 14-16.

"It takes a ton of preparation going into this," Davis said. "It's a really competitive field. It always is, the best teams in college golf. We just have to go out there with the best intentions, do our prep work here and then don't force anything and whatever happens, happens."

For Miller, it's one last time for the Big Ten Championships runner-up to help guide the team toward the NCAA Championships round, having posted a three-round score of three-over 219 (74-71-74) as an NCAA Washington Regional medalist a year ago. 

Prior to Miller, the last Nittany Lion to win an NCAA regional though, was none other than his assistant coach, T.J. Howe. 

"It's my first time back since 2010 I believe so we're going to a place we know and we've had success at," Howe said. "I'm really looking forward to what this next week can bring us." 

When it comes to Miller though, for Howe, it's more about his intangibles and mindset that stand out a bit further than the obvious talent on the course.

"He's such a leader. I think it's just his will," Howe said. "He's a good player, we all know that but he's able to come back from stuff that most players aren't able to come back from. If he has a bad score, he'll make birdies on the next three holes and he'll be right back where he was. That's kind of what I see from him, he never quits fighting."

For Davis, he'll make just his second appearance at the NCAA regionals, with a critical year of experience under his belt. Advancing with the team to the NCAA Championships, he closed out the event leading the Nittany Lions with a three-round score of two-over 218 (76-71-71).

Davis, like the rest of the lineup, is hardly a stranger on the Scarlet Course, having most recently tied for second at the Kepler Intercollegiate, registering his first career top five finish a few weeks ago.

"The Scarlet Course is all about course management," Davis said. "It's not a course where you can go out and shoot five or six under par, you just have to keep grinding. It's one of those places where if you lose your train of through and what you're trying to do, you can really make some big numbers out there." 

While Penn State's experience playing the course multiple times will also serve as an added benefit, the addition of unpredictable weather conditions could play into shaping a variety of outcomes.

"What will be different for us is from three weeks ago - spring has sprung here and the grass is growing here," Nye said. "Their rough is going to be longer. The green should be a little better. We're going to have to be ready for that. Golf courses change, day to day so if we get different wind condition, hopefully maybe we've seen that wind condition maybe one of the years we've been down there." 

Ask any Nittany Lion though and there's no easy way to describe the course, even among experience. Now rested and focused though, the Nittany Lions will spend their practice time here focusing on strategy and mindset before hitting the road for Columbus. 

"It's definitely a two-step process," Davis said. "We have to do all the work out there on the course and we also have a lot of meetings and determining how we want to play the course. It's definitely a pretty strategic side to it so if we get those two aspects down, I think we have a really good chance."

VIDEO: 2018 THON Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Among the most highly anticipated THON weekend events, check out the men's golf athlete hour pep rally dance! 

THON Features: Raeman Ready to Dance For The Kids

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sparked by an overwhelming feeling of inspiration to help others, Penn State men's golfer Connor Raeman is ready to take the floor at THON 2018.

With his mother working in hospitals his whole life, Raeman is constantly surrounded by childhood cancer and its harsh reality, having always felt there was more he could do to help.

"I've met a lot of families that have lost someone due to childhood cancer," Raeman said. "Anyone affected by cancer, whether they're kids or not, it's not their decision and they didn't do anything wrong, they're just unfairly punished. I thought it was important to give our whole school and the athletic department my personal 110 percent effort to help them."

That is exactly what the junior will be doing the weekend of February 16th at the Bryce Jordan Center. Raeman was chosen along with four other student-athletes to dance in the 46-hour dance marathon through the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB). 

When the New York native stepped on campus three years ago, he didn't even know what THON was, but quickly got involved through SAAB during his freshman year when he learned about the organization's part in the fight against childhood cancer. 

"I just thought it was a really awesome cause and a good way to get involved in school," Raeman said. "I thought it was the best way to make a difference and meet a lot of new people."

Although Raeman got involved in THON to help in the fight against pediatric cancer, he has stayed and continued to get so involved because of the incredible THON families he has met along the way. 

"The families are always just the most amazing people and if you met them on the street you would never know they were going through all this hardship," Raeman said. "When you talk to them they're the happiest, sweetest, most optimistic people in the world."

Raeman's most recent inspiration all started with a broken light in his apartment. When a repairman came to fix the light, he noticed Raeman's THON items on the counter. After talking with the repairman and finding out the father's son was a THON child, it put Raeman's decision to dance in perspective, reminding him of who he was doing it all for.

"I just really want to help [those affected by childhood cancer] out," Raeman said. "They're in this terrible position and it's just not fair. I feel like I really needed to help these people." 

With Raeman still in the middle of the golf season, he has continued to attend early morning lifting sessions. Although he won't be able to attend the team work out on the Friday THON starts, he knows his coach and teammates will understand. 

In preparation for the dance marathon, Raeman revealed he isn't doing anything outside of his normal routine, except trying to go to a sleep a little earlier than usual and incorporating more cardio into his workouts. Being a student-athlete, he feels his competitive attitude will help to give him an advantage throughout the weekend.

"I definitely think having a little bit more of a competitive mentality might kick in toward the last two hours and knowing how to finish something that's tough whether it's a sports event or the fact that your feet hurt and you're tired but you can't sit down," Raeman said. 

In the past, Raeman has performed in athlete hour pep rally during THON with other members of the men's golf team and plans to do the same this year. 9691442.jpeg While they haven't finished in the top three historically, with stiff competition from other Nittany Lion teams, Raeman is feeling confident his team can pull out a win this year. 

"I think the golf team is a sleeper this year," Raeman said. "I think we have a chance, we have a vision, we just have to put together a couple more steps. I think we might take it home this year."

Lions Set for NCAA Championships

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a top five finish at the NCAA Washington Regional, Penn State men's golf is headed to Sugar Grove, Illinois for the 2017 NCAA Championships.

Advancing past the regional round for the first time since 2010, the Nittany Lions are making their fifth appearance at the NCAA Championships under the direction of head coach Greg Nye.

"I think we're really starting to peak as a team and everyone's game is kind of coming into place and this last tournament kind of showed that," junior Cole Miller said.

Miller is coming off of his fifth individual title of the year, having captured the individual championship at the Washington regional at 7-under. Freshman Ryan Davis also stepped up for an eighth-place finish, concluding the event at 1-under.

Miller, a second team All-Big Ten honoree, and sophomore Charles Huntzinger, a unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection were the only two Nittany Lions with NCAA regionals experience headed into the event, which has now provided a wealth of youth on the roster with valuable postseason familiarity.

"You have to be able to play well to get through and to be able to play well as a team and make it through as a team is just the greatest thing," Miller said. "I've had a smile on my face ever since we've got through and it's been amazing. To be able to share it with teammates makes it all the more better." 

The Nittany Lions now turn their focus toward navigating the course at Rich Harvest Farms, home to Northern Illinois' men's and women's golf squads. Having never competed on the course as a team, Penn State head coach Greg Nye has relied on a variety of reports from those who have, but still a bit of uncertainty remains.

"We talked a bit about when we don't hit it perfect, what's our approach going to be on this golf course that looks like it's going to be, in the numbers, very penal, so we have to be very smart about how we go about taking on targets out in Chicago," Penn State head coach Greg Nye said.

A welcome report though comes from Huntzinger, the only Nittany Lion who has played the course, having competed at the Western Amateur Championship a few years ago prior to Penn State.

"It's definitely one of the nicer courses I've played, it's a very difficult course," Huntzinger said. "Being able to compare that golf course with some of the ones we've played this year, seeing how we've played, comparing notes, I think we're in a good spot and we're looking forward to it."

For both Miller and Huntzinger though, regardless of the course, it all comes down to the work that goes in before Friday arrives.

"We're kind of the fighter team, with balancing with everything on the course, as long as you're prepared, usually just about any golf course you'll be able to handle so from there on it's just preparation work," Miller said. "You have to study the course really well."

Freshman Alec Bard will have a different kind of familiarity come Friday, as he and his brother Derek Bard, will be the only set of siblings squaring off in the upcoming NCAA Championships in Sugar Grove. Derek, a senior a Virginia, helped UVA to a fourth-place finish at the Baton Rouge Regional with a 12th-place finish. 

"It's his last college tournament ever so for us to be able to qualify and for this to be the one chance we'll play in the same tournament, our family is definitely excited," Alec said. 

The NCAA Championships format consists of three days of stroke play, spanning 54 holes from Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 28 featuring 30 teams and six individuals. Monday will feature a final day of 18-hole stroke play narrowed down to 15 teams and nine individuals, with eight teams advancing to match play. 

Match play features two rounds to crown a 72-hole individual NCAA national champion, with the team national champion field determined by a match play quarterfinal and semifinal round Tuesday, May 30, with finals closing out the event on Wednesday, May 31.

VIDEO: Men's Golf's THON 2017 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another highly anticipated THON event, check out men's golf's full pep rally dance! 

BLOG: Fall Sports Media Day in Review

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the Penn State Fall Sports season may have kicked off with women's soccer in action last week, Nittany Lion fans got a unique perspective from the annual athletics Fall Sports Media Day.

Coaches and student-athletes from seven different Penn State programs set to compete this fall met with members of the media to talk 2016 and their expectations for the upcoming year.

Check out some highlights and links to videos, transcripts and extra coverage from today's event. 

Men's Golf

Penn State men's golf head coach Greg Nye spoke highly of his team's progress in the offseason, giving a special shout out to alums TJ How and Kevin Foley, who both competed in the U.S. Open this summer.

With a relatively young team coming in, Nye mentioned that just three of the nine student-athletes on the team have played more than three collegiate events. Nye is confident that the veteran leaders will be able to help the younger members of the squad make their transition.

"We're definitely excited to adopt the younger guys on the team into our culture," said junior Christian Elliott. "Over the past couple of years our team has been really tight knit so implementing that and just getting ready to compete. I know we're all pretty fired up for the fall season to get off to a good start and pick up where we left off last year."

Press conference video
Periscope session with Christian Elliot and Cole Miller

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