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Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the
Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former
Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.
It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator
at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an
institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited
to become a member in 1949.
The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would
bridge a Midwestern league to the East.
The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb
academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.
Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much
convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and
the Big Ten could foster.
Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity
to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week.
"Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast,
I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the
The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten
institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in
December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under
the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been
competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest
of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.
When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who
along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn
State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the
annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of
NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.
"I remember talking in front of the group about
the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences
and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't
have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at
lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come
back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about
The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which
time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University
and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the
a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for
both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other
expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both
institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the
characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of
the Big Ten."
The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.
"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports
Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and
how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."
It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development
for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day
Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.
"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and
as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno,"
Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going
to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn
State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"
The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost
"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in
a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs,"
Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that,
we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten,
collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from
the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had
been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's
volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we
were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."
At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff
alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten
boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.
"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in
the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was. When you take a job, that is the job you
took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having
to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what
we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."
The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field
"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said
Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to
be a first rate facility."
The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's
transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's
a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and
it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.
"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared,"
said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort
of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that
makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to
Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom
and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92
Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally,
more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten
Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten
recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals
during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.
"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the
intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and
our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition
matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric
Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for
their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee
on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual
research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the
University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly
600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and
prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are
The women's volleyball program earned Penn
State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the
team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative
16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA
Championships since 1999.
Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success
in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity
sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference
titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.
The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of
competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach
Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0
record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships
to date (2005 and 2008).
The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's
history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles
in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer,
women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams
have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).
Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days
during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.
It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big
Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the
recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a
world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated
relationships with premier student-athletes.
"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities
and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly
helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the
conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these
Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we
go out recruiting student-athletes."
A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was
the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State
sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of
the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes, increased visibility across the country for
the department in a way that cannot be measured.
"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the
opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about
the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the
sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and
The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate
impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase
exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased
revenues for each institution.
"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for
the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted
in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.
In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football
en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.
the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the
conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success
aids in the growth of the collective conference.
"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There
are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."
"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best
practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business
Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and
ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't
secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do
things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help
one another out for the betterment of the conference.
"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for
other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going
on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."
Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who
have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list
includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and
has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the
key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus
trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography
of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.
A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship
took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for
Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's
been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.
"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for
us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been
excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have
always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no
disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first
team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was
the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some
very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And
obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the
Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big
Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks
By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership
between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to
mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote
concluded 25 years ago today.
The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten
titles in March of 2011.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- With the 2014-'15 season drawing to a close, six Nittany Lions have the
opportunity to race one last time. After a quick turn around from the Big
Ten Championships, Penn State is headed back to Iowa City for the Men's NCAA
Coming off a seventh
place finish at Big Tens, the Nittany Lions have spent the past three weeks
preparing for this meet and making the appropriate changes to their training.
The main focus for NCAAs will be strong morning swims in order to score in
"We are focusing on
getting a second swims in our races," said senior Nate Savoy. "We know we
have to swim really fast in the morning in order to do that."
The NCAA competition
is the most selective meet in college swimming. In order to participate,
swimmers must reach or surpass a specific time standard. At the beginning of
the season, time standards are released for each event, which are referred to
as "A" and "B" cuts. In order to receive an automatic invite to the meet, a
swimmer must achieve an "A" cut. Once conference meets are finished,
swimmers with "B" times are then invited based on their ranking in an event.
Typically the top 37-40 swimmers in each event receive a bid for NCAAs.
Two swimmers who
qualified individually for Penn State are senior Nate Savoy, and junior Shane
Ryan. Both Savoy and Ryan have qualified for NCAAs in years past, and
have led the Nittany Lions in points this season.
Savoy will be
competing in the 100 and 200 backstroke, which he placed second in at the Big
Ten Championships. Savoy is also the current record holder for the
Nittany Lions in the 200 backstroke.
Ryan qualified in the
50 and 100 freestyles, as well as the 100 backstroke. At Big Tens Ryan
took home a bronze in the 50 freestyle and a gold medal in the 100 backstroke.
He also had the eighth fastest time in the 100 freestyle.
The four other
Nittany Lions to compete at NCAAs are: senior Kyle Madley, junior Matt Grillo and sophomores Bob Bantley and Andrew
Schuehler. The trio will participate in Penn
State's relays alongside Savoy and Ryan.
Last year Penn State
had its best finish in over a decade, finishing 17th place. The Nittany
Lions were within 10 points of their finish at the 2001 NCAA Championships,
which was their strongest in history.
This year the Nittany
Lions look to improve upon that finish, and are focusing on scoring big in
"We have a good chance
to score in our relays which will be huge points for the team," said Savoy.
Relays rack up the
most points for teams. A first place finish in a relay is worth almost
double the points as a first place individual event. Strong relay
performances can make a huge difference on a team's total score as well where
they finish in the meet.
Nittany Lions are seeded in the top 20 for the 200 and 400 medley relays and
the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Live results for the
meet can be found online at hawkeyesports.com throughout the duration of the
Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
Pa. - Eleven members of women's swimming and diving team arrived in North
Carolina and are ready to race in the NCAA championship meet. Penn State will
face its toughest competition yet, racing against Division I teams from across
"Last year we swam
really well at this meet and placed 18th," explained senior Carolyn Fittin.
"This year, the goal is to score more points and have our relays make it back
The NCAA Championships
are the most selective meet in collegiate swimming, with strict qualification
requirements. In order to garner an automatic invite, a swimmer must achieve an
"A" standard time in an event. That swimmer is also eligible to compete in
bonus events, but they must have a "B" standard time for their selected races.
In each event,
there are anywhere from 35-40 swimmers invited. Once the number of swimmers
with "A" times are established, those with "B" qualifying times are invited
based on their position in national rankings. Additionally, relays are another
opportunity to receive an invitation. Swimmers do not have to qualify
individually for the meet in order to compete on a relay team, which have their
own "A" and "B" standards.
For the Nittany
Lions, seven out of the 11 swimmers competing qualified for events
individually. In the senior class, Megan Siverling qualified in the 500 and
1650 freestyle events, while Fittin was invited in the 50 freestyle. Both
Siverling and Fittin have competed at NCAAs in past seasons. For the junior
Nittany Lions, Ally Ackman qualified in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle, Melissa
Rodriguez in the 200 breaststroke, and Katie Rowe in the 200 butterfly. Ackman,
Rodriguez and Rowe were also members of the 2014 NCAA Team for Penn State. The
youngest class competing this week is the sophomore group, led by Katelyn
Sowinski who qualified in the 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly, and Casey
Francis who will swim the 200 butterfly. Sowinski also competed at NCAAs last
Penn State will
also participate in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle relays,
as well as the 200 and 400 medley relays.
"We did not swim as
well as we were hoping at Big Tens," Fittin said. "But we still have 11 girls
who qualified for this meet and we know we can end the season on a high note."
The Nittany Lions
placed seventh in the Big Ten, dropping from their third place finish in 2014.
"We knew we had to
bounce back and be ready to race this week. We spent spring break training and
preparing- I think that's going to show," Fittin explained. "The turn around
time between NCAA's and Big Tens is quick, but we feel ready."
While NCAAs marks
the end of the season for Penn State, it also marks the end of four long
swimming careers. The entire senior class qualified for NCAAs and will
represent the blue and white one last time. This week marks the senior class of
Carolyn Fittin, Caitlyn Karr, Katelyn Miller and Megan Siverling will represent
Penn State together at the NCAA championships.
"As a class, we
want to go in and have fun with it," said Karr. "We want to enjoy every last
Competition begins on
Thursday at 11 a.m. in Greensboro, North Carolina.
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student
Pa. - The Nittany Lions have arrived at the Big Ten Championships and are ready
for a busy few days. This week marks the culmination of grueling practices, a
tough dual meet schedule and a year's worth of hard work.
But for the men's swimming and diving team, the past few weeks have
been about more than training, they have been about preparation.
"Race strategy, we've been trying to clean up the little things -
tempo, turns - and staying relaxed," said head coach Tim Murphy.
Last year the Nittany Lions placed fifth, close behind Minnesota and
just ahead of Purdue and Wisconsin.
This year boasts tougher competition, with seven out of the 10 teams
ranked the top 25 in the nation, three of which are in the top 10.
Defending champion, Michigan, is ranked fifth, followed by Ohio
State and Indiana in eighth and ninth, respectively. Wisconsin and Minnesota are currently polled
at 19th and 22nd, and not far behind is Penn State at 24th.
"The Big Ten is a heavy hitting conference," said senior Larry
Virgilio. "But the boys look good, feel good, and we're excited."
Although competition begins in earnest on Thursday for the men's
team, the Nittany Lions had their first dose of championship season last week,
with the Big Ten Women's Championships.
The women placed seventh overall and broke four records.
For the men, seeing the teammates they train with everyday going
best times is a great motivator.
"We are excited and ready to get this championship going," said senior Nate
Savoy. "The competition is going to be
great and the team is ready to see what we can do."
One of the key factors for the Nittany Lions this week is going to be
staying relaxed under pressure, which is something they worked on leading up to
"We've done a good job pacing ourselves and not getting ahead of ourselves,"
For many swimmers, the Big Ten Championship is a final opportunity
to qualify for the NCAA championship
meet in March.
As the most elite in college swimming, NCAA's showcases the fastest
collegiate swimmers across the country in one setting. Although the number invited per event changes
each year, usually around the top 30 fastest times in each event are able to
Last year, the Nittany Lions sent seven members of the men's team to
the NCAA's and finished 17th, recording the most points at the meet for Penn
State in over a decade.
While the Nittany Lions look to add to that number this year, the
main focus for the time being is fast swimming in Iowa City and showcasing
their year's worth of tough training.
"The work is done," said Murphy, "It's time to just pin our ears
back and seeing what we've got,"
Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Top three always has a nice ring to it and we always like to be
better," said head coach Tim Murphy with a smile while speaking about the
Women's Big Ten Championships.
Lions have arrived in Columbus, Ohio, and are anticipating four days of fast
they're ready to go," explained Murphy. "They're anxious, but that's okay,
we're saving that energy for race time."
team wrapped up their regular season with a 10-1 record, their only loss coming
by a few points to Michigan in November. The Nittany Lions will have an
opportunity to revisit the Wolverines this week.
against a lot of stiff good competition, we have to respond to that," said
the Nittany Lions captured a third place finish at Big Tens, behind the
defending champions, Wisconsin and runner-up Indiana.
"We need to
swim aggressive and swim smart. We want to be under control but we want to be a
little bold with what we try to do," said Murphy. "As opposed to having the
competition impact us, we want to have an impact on the competition."
One of the
biggest differences between last year's Big Ten Championships and this year is
allowing the C Final to score.
only the top 16 finishers from prelims (the top two heats) were in a position
to score in finals, even though the top 24 finishers were invited back for a
allowing the top 24 to put points on the board gives the opportunity for more
swimmers to add to their teams score, Murphy does not believe it will sway the
outcome of the meet. He does however believe it will impact the atmosphere.
to give some people a chance to score who have not in the past and it's an
incentive to make it back," explained Murphy. "I think it's going to add to the
level of excitement, across the board, that's a given."
swimming is often conveyed as sport focused on individual races, it is actually
very team oriented. The Nittany Lions consider themselves a family and
each team member plays an important role in contributing to the team's overall
supportive of one another and we have fun competing and practicing against each
other," explained senior Carolyn Fittin. "We have developed a great team
dynamic throughout the year and I think that's really going show at Big Tens."
atmosphere at Big Tens has an excitement level of it's own. For many
swimmers, it is the culmination of a grueling a season and a final opportunity
for best times and to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Nittany Lions the goal is to stay focused and ready to race.
"We need to
just take care of ourselves and swim really tough," said Murphy. "There's going
to be three, four, people going into the wall at the same time. The
difference is going to be who gets their hand on the wall first in those
competition and evenly matched teams across the Big Ten, this year's
competition is shaping up to be a fight to the finish.
kicks off this evening with the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays.
Individual events begin on Wednesday and continue through Saturday.
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - Imagine swimming in a pool controlled by a massive current, one
that tugs from all sides and prohibits you from reaching the other end.
That is how it feels to swim in an Endless Pool.
pools have become increasingly popular in recent years and are used by
competitive swimmers at all levels. Shorter than a regulation 25 yards,
endless pools are typically about 10 feet in length and around four feet deep.
They are a great tool for working on technique, and with enough room for
only one swimmer, allow for individualized attention.
Lions welcomed their own Endless Pool earlier this season. With the
rapidly approaching championship meets for both the men's and women's teams,
the Endless Pool has become a key component in preparing for the Big Ten
great tool in helping us perfect technique," senior Caitlyn Karr said. "Especially
with how close we are to Big Tens, every little thing counts at this point."
swimmer to use the Endless Pool was senior Katelyn Miller, who specializes in
sprint freestyle events.
actually pretty cool- it uses mirrors which is useful because the coaches can
tell you something over and over again," MIller said. "But being able to
actually see the things they're talking about makes the learning process much
mirrors on the bottom and hanging over the sides, it allows swimmers to watch
themselves swim and make adjustments based on feedback from coaches.
huge help with fixing strokes," senior Nate Savoy said. "The mirrors really
make it easy to see what you're not doing correctly and to be able to fix it."
Prior to using
the Endless Pool, the only way to breakdown technique from underneath was to
use an underwater camera and to playback the film for the swimmer to make
corrections. The use of mirrors provide a much more effective and
efficient way to make adjustments in stroke.
As with any
sport, technique plays a major role in swimming - even slightest change in
stroke mechanics can lead to drops in time. Additionally, strong
technique is an important component of injury prevention, especially in strokes
that rely heavily on shoulder movement, like freestyle, backstroke and
Big Ten Championships less than a week away for the women's team, keeping the
Nittany Lions healthy and ready to race is crucial.
the women placed third in the Big Ten and are looking to place higher this
at Big Tens, the scoring system had a dependency on prelims swims. Although the
top 24 swimmers would be invited back to finals, only those placed in the top
16 were eligible to score. Even if someone placed above 16th place posted a
faster time than swimmers in the A or B heat at finals, they would not score.
year, things will be different.
"One of the
biggest changes from last year is that the C Final will score," Karr explained.
"That gives a chance for more girls to score and can definitely have an impact
on the outcome of the meet."
are a strong contender heading into Big Tens. Their only loss this season
was to Michigan, and was by a very small margin.
Check back next week for a full Women's Big Ten
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fifteen seniors wrapped up their last meet in McCoy Natatorium with a
win on Saturday against Navy. Seniors and families gathered on deck prior to
the start of the meet where they passed through a tunnel of teammates and
received a letterman's blanket as a sign of recognition for their four years of
Saturday's victory moved the women to 12-1 for the season, and they are
currently ranked 17th in the nation. For the men, the win over Navy
moved them to a 6-3 record.
Like any Division I
sport, swimming requires an enormous amount of discipline and commitment. Each
week consists of multiple two-a-day workouts in addition to time spent in the
weight room. But the senior class' resilience and dedication throughout the
past four years has not gone unnoticed.
"I appreciate their
efforts and I appreciate their commitment," head coach Tim Murphy explained. "It's easy to
stop doing this, this requires a lot of time, this is a long season. They have
kept going and they have stayed with it. That in of itself, I admire and I
In addition to
commitment, another key component of the team is communication and working
together. The Nittany Lions are a tight-knit group; the men's and women's team
practice together every day and consider themselves a family. For senior Jonathan
Ekstrom, one of the biggest takeaways he has from his time as Nittany Lion is
the camaraderie amongst the team.
"There's a sense of
teamwork you get," he said. "You're working with all different kinds of people
to accomplish something like competing on a Big Ten squad means a lot not only
on a personal level but in the professional level as well from what you learn
from the experience."
While Saturday's meet was
the final time seniors will race in McCoy Natatorium, the Nittany Lions' season
is far from over.
Penn State will travel
to two invitational meets in the upcoming weeks, one at Bucknell University and
another at Virginia Tech.
"The seniors still have
a month, some of them two months, to leave their mark." Murphy said. "I told
them on training trip that every time they walk on the deck this is their
opportunity to leave behind something that others can build on. I think they're
in the process of doing that."
Despite the upcoming
invitational meets, the Nittany Lions will spend the next month preparing for
the Big Ten Championships. The women will travel to Ohio State University the
week of February 18th and the men will venture to the University of
Iowa the week of February 25th.
Last year the women
finished third in the Big Ten while the men wrapped up their season with a
fifth place finish.
Following the Big Ten
Championships, those who qualify will compete at the NCAA Championships in
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend's swimming
and diving matchup against the United States Naval Academy is more than just
the final dual meet of the 2014-'15 season-- it is the last time 14 Nittany
Lions will compete in McCoy Natatorium.
This is the second group to
graduate under head coach Tim Murphy after he took over as head coach in 2013.
"This group has a willingness
and desire and with how much they have invested in this team for them to
continue to do it is just a good mark of their character, their discipline, and
overall their affection for what they're doing," Murphy explained. "Also where
they're doing it and most of all, whom they're doing it with, that's what
Day is historically the most emotional meet. Each senior passes through a
tunnel of created by their teammates where they meet the coaching staff at the
end. Next, they are then handed a letterman's blanket and flowers and are
recognized for their dedication and hard work invested throughout their collegiate career.
For senior Katelyn Miller, her four years as a
member of the team have flown by.
"It's crazy. As a freshman, I
remember looking at the seniors and wondering if I was going to make it that
far," Miller said with a laugh. "It's
surreal that it's finally here. Walking
down the pool deck with the whole team on either side of me is when I think
it's going to hit me."
Miller is one of the five women graduating from
the team, and one of the four seniors who competed and scored at the 2014 NCAA
Championships for the Nittany Lions.
Another senior member and scorer from the 2014
NCAA team is Megan Siverling. When asked about what she would miss most about competing
for the Nittany Lions, Siverling had a great answer.
"I'm going to miss the fact
that something that seems to trivial, like athletic performance, represents
something so much bigger than ourselves," Silverling said. "Going a certain
time isn't personal, I'm representing Penn State and it makes you better. We're representing such an awesome institution
that so many people love and follow so passionately. "
On the men's team, the Nittany Lions will lose
nine, including captain Larry Virgillio.
"If you would have told me four and a half years
ago if I would even think that I would be swimming for Penn State, I would have
called you crazy," Virgilio laughed. "To be a captain at the end of four years,
along with Nate (Savoy), it means more than words can describe."
But not all members of the 2015 class have spent
the past four years as a Nittany Lion. Ryan MaGee spent his
freshman year at Maryland before transferring to Penn State.
"Coming to Penn State
has been awesome. Being here has taught
me the importance of working as one machine not just an individual," MaGee
explained. "We really are a second family.
There's such a sense of unity here at Penn State, I'm definitely going
to miss it."
Team unity is a key value
among the men's and women's teams; it is something that has made the group
stronger and contributed to their success.
"They each are making or have
made are making a contribution to not only themselves but the program," Murphy
said. "It's easy to stop doing this because this requires a lot of time, it's a
long season but they've kept with it. That in it of itself I admire and
A win this weekend would put
the women at 11-1 on the season, and the men at 6-3. But Coach Murphy is not worried about Senior
Day affecting the Nittany Lion's performance in the pool.
"When they look up an see
their parents, their family, their friends realizing that, this is the last
time they're going to be swimming in a dual meet, in this pool - it'll hit
them," Murphy said. "But we know what we have to do."
Saturday's meet begins at 11
a.m. with Senior Day beginning around 10:40 a.m. in McCoy Natatorium.
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "There is still a difference between winning and
coming in second," head coach Tim Murphy said; reflecting on the Nittany Lion's
tri-meet this past weekend against Michigan and Virginia.
Both the men and women toppled the Cavaliers, but fell to the
Wolverines. For the women's team, who was undefeated coming into the
competition, it was a fight to the finish, ending with a tough three-point
"I think how close the meet was, especially on the women's side with
Michigan, needs to burn a little bit," Murphy said. "We have to go back to
work, use it for momentum and keep the ball rolling,"
Coming into the weekend, the Nittany Lions were prepared to have to dig
deep and hold off some tough competition. Prior to the tri-meet, the Michigan
men were ranked first in the nation and the women were sixth.
"We knew they're both good teams and where they were ranked, how they did last
season and we knew it was going to be a hearty task," Murphy said. "In a lot of
areas we showed our ability to handle that and be up for that and in some areas
we exceeded expectations."
College Swimming released this week's rankings with the Nittany Lions
improving to No. 16 in both the men's and women's polls. Prior to the tri-meet the men were ranked No.
18 and the women were ranked No. 20.
"Some people are just starting to show things and show a level of
swimming boldy and not worrying about who it is but just flat out being
competitive." Murphy said. "Those are
two things we need to work on: being bold-having high expectations for
ourselves and learning to be more competitive."
The Nittany Lions head to the Georgia Fall Invitational next for a
mid-season meet. Competition kicks off
on Dec. 5, which gives the team a little under a month to focus on training.
"Our main challenge is going to be what we do in practice," Murphy
said. "It's going to be more so how are
we preparing ourselves, how are we challenging ourselves and just being flat
out competitive. It's not easy. It requires coming in here with a different
level of intensity. It's all about what goes down in the pool."
While in Georgia, the Nittany Lions can expect top-notch competition;
not only with other teams, but between teammates.
"Georgia is trials and finals meet," Murphy explained. "It's when we are really going to start putting
our Big Ten team together. It's also sort of last real good test, we're going
to be up against some strong teams to sort of figure out what we need to do on
the home stretch."
Following the invitational, the Nittany Lions will have a few weeks back
in Happy Valley and at home before heading to Florida for their annual training
trip. While in Naples, the team will
face a tough training schedule of two-a-day practices and lifting sessions to
gear up for the final months of their season.
When they return, the Nittany Lions will kick off 2015 in New Brunswick
for a tri-meet against Rutgers and Yale.
The next home meet is scheduled for Jan. 24 against Navy at
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State swimming and diving teams swapped their traditional blue
and white uniforms for pink caps and t-shirts in their meet against Villanova
Friday afternoon. The Nittany Lions held
their annual "pink meet" to support breast cancer awareness.
For senior captain
Caitlyn Karr, the pink meet is more than just a change in shirt color.
"It means a lot to
some team members, myself included, who have lost family members to breast
cancer," Karr explained. "It really makes you dig deep down for that extra push
to do well."
The Nittany Lions
defeated the Wildcats on both the men's and women's sides. The men's team improved to a 4-1 season;
while the women's squad remained undefeated in dual meets and hold a 7-0
Farnsworth believes part of the women's team success comes from the tremendous
team chemistry this season.
"You know that you
always have someone behind you when you race," Farnsworth explained. "You're
racing for a reason. It's not about
yourself, with how close we are this season, we all want to swim well for the
Farnsworth won her
first collegiate event against the Wildcats, posting an in-season best time in
the 100 backstroke.
"Of course it was
exciting," Farnsworth said. "But I went into it very relaxed. I raced the same people I compete with in
practice all the time. It's always great
to win, and it was definitely a step forward."
Caitlyn Karr also ended the meet victorious with wins in the 100 breaststroke
and 500 freestyle.
"This meet was only
my second time swimming the 500 this season," Karr explained. "I swam it last
week and my goal was to build off of how I swam against West Virginia and
improve. I think I did that, and I'm
pretty happy with where I'm at right now."
Looking ahead, the
Nittany Lions toughest competition is yet to come. They host Michigan and Virginia for a two-day
tri-meet this weekend.
"Staying focused is
going to be key," Farnsworth said. "Our past victories have given us confidence
but we need to stay steady and stay strong.
If we keep practicing how we've been practicing and focus, it should be
a great meet."
"We haven't swam
them in a dual meet recently," Karr added. "They definitely have some really
fast swimmers. But it's like any other
meet. We're going to be tired and broken
down but we need to push through it.
It's going to be a great test, they're top notch teams."
currently undefeated with a 1-0 record, while Michigan is 4-1 with a loss to Texas. The meet is set to begin Friday at 6 p.m.
and Saturday at 11 a.m. in McCoy Natatorium.