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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Months of
physical preparation boil down to one weekend.
and 15 women from the Penn State track and field squads will push themselves to
the limit as they compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round this Thursday
is the competition track and field athletes prepare for all season with the
goal of a top-12 finish in their respective event to move on to the NCAA
of the competition is part of an advantage first round veterans have.
at a facility that you've been at before where you've had success before, you
know your way around, it really goes a long way with helping you relax, be
confident and comfortable," said head coach John Gondak.
will be just that as 14 of the 26 student-athletes have competed in the NCAA
first round in Jacksonville.
preparation builds off of confidence; a characteristic Gondak and his staff
work to build with each student-athlete throughout the season.
"At the end
of the day, they're the ones that have to do it. They have to believe they're ready,"
doubt, the Nittany Lions are ready.
men's team ranks 15th, contains three top-ranked athletes and seven
returners. Ranked No. 1 in the shot put, Darrell Hill looks for a standout performance
to move on for the second time in his career. Hill won the Big Ten title in the
shot put just two weeks ago.
in the region and Big Ten Champion in the javelin throw, Michael Shuey will
throw for a shot at competing in Oregon. Joining Shuey is redshirt freshman
top-ranked and looking to punch his second ticket to Oregon, Brannon Kidder
will run in the 800-meter. Joining Kidder is fellow Nittany Lion Robert Rhodes.
Creese is ready for a comeback performance after redshirting last spring.
Entering the competition, the senior ranks No. 1 in the 1,500-meter run.
women's side, 15 Nittany Lions are set to compete, including seven veterans representing
Penn State in 12 events.
recently breaking the Penn State school record with a silver medal throw (56-0)
in the shot put at the Big Ten Championships; Rachel Fatherly enters the
competition ranked No. 4. Joining Fatherly in the shot put competition are Alyssa
Robinson and Obeng Marfo.
competing in the field, Lexi Masterson will compete in the women's pole vault;
Danielle Gibson will take on the long jump and triple jump.
notching a silver medal at the Big Ten Championships, Tori Gerlach will represent
the Blue and White in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run. Elizabeth Chikotas will make her
first round debut in the 5,000-meter as a
Dynasty McGee and Tichina Rhodes will compete in the 400-meter dash and the
NCAA Preliminary will begin on Thursday, May 28 and conclude on Saturday, May
30. Follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC for live updates.
By Michael Shuey, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend we traveled to the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Michigan.
The weather for all three days was somewhat cloudy and around 70 degrees. Safe
to say that this year's weather at the Big Ten meet was far better than the
last time Michigan State hosted it when it snowed.
Day one of the championships started off with men's hammer throw where redshirt
freshman Kory Decesaris had a huge 11-foot PR with his throw of 198-5. This
mark moved him to No. 6 all-time at Penn State. Also with a PR in
the hammer, was Justin Berg with a mark of 185-5. The women's hammer throw had
their share of PRs for Penn State with Rachel Fatherly placing eighth with a
throw of 191-9. Wrapping up day one was the 10k with Glen Burkhardt and Matt
Fischer. Burkhardt finished fourth in his first outdoor Big Tens and Fischer placed
Day two started off with an exciting finish of the women's heptathlon by Tal
Ben-Artzi with a fifth place finish by scoring 4,937. On the track Tichina
Rhodes had a huge PR in the 400-meter dash by running 53.65, which moved her in
to finals along with Dynasty McGee. In the women's discus, Obeng Marfo threw a
15-foot PR, 170-1, which placed her sixth. Finishing day two was the women's
3000 meter steeplechase with Tori Gerlach capturing a second place finish with
a time of 10:13.33.
Day three started off with the first champion on the men's side with Darrel
Hill defending his title by throwing the shot put 66-3.25. On the women's side
Dannielle Gibson placed third in the women's triple jump with a jump of 42-3.5.
On the track, Sancho Barret posted a fifth-place finish in the 110-meter
hurdles with a time of 13.71, followed by the finish of the 400-meter dash
where Dynasty McGee was third with a time of 53.59. The second champion was
Brannon Kidder in the men's 800-meter run with a time of 1:47.56. In the field
action, Rachel Fatherly finished second in the shot put with a school record
mark of 56-3.25 and Obeng Marfo placed fourth with a personal-best throw of
52-6. In the men's javelin, I won the title with a throw of 236-8 and my teammate
Ryan Kerr finished third with a throw of 229-2. The 5,000-meter race finished
with Glen Burkhardt capturing his second fourth-place finish of the
Neither the men's or women's side came out of the championships with a
team win, but at the end of the day we had strong performances all over the
board and showed great Penn State pride throughout the three days of
By Tori Gerlach, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
PARK, Pa. - A small, yet prepared, group headed out to Palo Alto, California to
compete in the Payton Jordan Invitational on Saturday. We had men and women competing in the 800,
1500, and the steeplechase. This meet is known for its distance races and
amazing competition and it certainly lived up to my expectations this year.
the board we had a number of PRs, season bests, and even a top NCAA leading
mark. We competed against some of the best competition in the country and
gained more confidence and experience rolling into championship time. With the Big Ten Championships coming up in a couple of weeks, this is just the type of meet we needed to
Penn State gave us the opportunity to show the west coast all the hard work we
put in so far this season. I am excited to see what the rest of the season
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are 98 total student-athletes on the Penn
State track and field team - 48 women, 50 men. Of all of those, there are a total
of four women pole vaulters: Kasey Kemp, Erin Knabe, Lexi Masterson, and Hannah Mulhern.
As if that wasn't exceptional enough in a sport that takes everything
from upper body strength to gymnastics ability, all four women rank within the
top ten pole-vaulters in Penn State history.
"That's something that I value. I earned that," said Masterson, who
holds the school record at 13-3.5. "But to have three other teammates in the
top ten is something that's more for Penn State than it is for me. To have us,
kind of, rewrite pole vault for Penn State is so great."
"It feels really cool and it feels like we're making our mark. We're
letting people know: you might not know Penn State pole vault but you're going
to know [it], I promise you," said Knabe.
To add to the prowess, the women are fairly young. Masterson, Kemp, and
Knabe have sophomore athletic experience and Mulhern is finishing up her
"We're so young and we have so much more to learn and grow and keep
building," said Mulhern.
From a training standpoint, the women have all the support form the
university and their coaches, which, for them, makes being part of such a small
"We have to thank Coach Kelly. Practice, meets, he always has our back. Pole
vault is so frustrating, he can be so patient with us," said Masterson. "It's
nice to have our unique little thing. We have respect for the people that do
endless 200 [meter sprints] on the track and think 'Man, I couldn't do that'
but then, we're like, 'They probably can't pole vault'."
Pole vaulting by definition is a track and field event where athletes
must run with a long pole and use it to help them jump over a bar. It requires
more athleticism than most people would predict and can be more dangerous than
most other events.
"As a girl pole vaulter you have to have upper body strength and all of
us have gymnastics background that helps us be successful," said Masterson. "We
have two lifts per week, each about an hour. We'll have drill days and strength
days and plyometric days. There's a lot of time to put in."
"[During] preseason, we lift three days a week at 6:30 a.m. and then
come back later for practice 2:45-5 p.m. Then, on Wednesdays we have lifts,
practice, and then gymnastics from 5 to 6 p.m.," said Knabe.
Aside from being physically fit, pole vaulting takes a lot of mental
discipline and poise.
"Pole vaulting is all about confidence," said Knabe. "It's a lot of
technique. You can be really fast and really strong but if your technique is
wrong you're not going to go anywhere. That's why it's so mental because if
your technique is not perfect then something is going to go wrong and it can be
Fear is far from their vocabulary, though, and they are excited to have
each other to rely on. Being best friends only adds the excitement of being
"With this group, it's not about you, it's about all of us," said
"We know our goals and we're always helping each other get there. The
practice environment is really positive all the time. I think it's helpful that
we're friends outside of track," said Kemp.
"We have an awesome vibe during practice. There's such a respect for
this sport between athletes because you understand how hard this sport is so we
just try and lift each other up," said Knabe.
Penn State is about to earn a whole new reputation in pole vaulting and
the women thrilled to be part of the process confident that this is just
"Penn State is the best school ever. I wish I could put that into better
words but it's true. It's such a good school academically and it's respected
athletically," said Kemp.
"It's important for [people] to see how much we have improved," said
Masterson. "I was a 12-foot jumper two times in high school. I wasn't
consistent and within the first month on competition [at Penn State], I was
13-1. So, to see the improvement and how far it's going to go."
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Embarking on yet another stepping stone toward a
championship, Penn State track and field is headed to Philadelphia to compete in the Penn Relays Carnival.
Unlike any other meet, the Penn Relays is the oldest, largest track meet
in the country celebrating its 121st year this weekend and with over
15,000 athletes, of all levels, from around the country competing in over 120
events, the Nittany Lions have a big three days ahead.
"I don't think it's that you prepare any differently. I think it's that
you have to respect and understand what the history and the tradition of the
Penn Relays are. It's one of the oldest track meets in the country. Right now,
if you get a sunny day, from the attendance stand point it will be one of the
largest attended track meets in the country," said head coach John Gondak.
With its long-established tradition, the Penn Relays has bred more than
just another exciting meet weekend. The carnival-style display has sparked
careers, dreams, and motives.
"There have been so many Olympians and champions whether it's at the
high school, college, or professional level that have competed at the Franklin
Field. It's a very hallowed ground of our sport," said Gondak. "It's the track
meet I attended that got me into the sport back when I attended in the 10th
grade and it has been, in my opinion, what launched my career."
"Although the Penn Relays are
hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, at Penn State we still take pride in
having one of the largest track and field meets in the country being held in our
home state. [There is] pride that is involved with [being a part of] the blue
and white...Talking about the history we are involved in gives you a little bit
of added motivation and a different type of respect for the meet," said Hill,
"It's always really exciting to get into the Philly area and compete.
It's exciting to have my parents come out and support me. I know the facilities
and some of the officials...and it's the Penn Relays. It's always exciting to go
To add to the motivation, Penn State is entering this weekend as the
sole owner of the men's 4x800-meter relay record time of 7:11.17 for the 30th
"It's an incredible sense of pride for our alumni, those that ran in
that relay and the program in general. It's talked about at every alumni
gathering and event," said Gondak. "Records are out there in an attempt to be
broken but it has been 30 years and no one has broken this one. It's something
that I know is in the back of our minds for our team to go out there and try to
Returning shot put champion, Hill knows very well the excitement that
comes with big accomplishments but notes that the most important part is to
focus on the now.
"You have to stay focused on the task. It goes on for a few days but the
excitement about it helps you soak in the atmosphere and use [it] to your
advantage. You have to be focused on the goal," said Hill. "I understand that it's
a new year. I won last year, which was cool but it's a new feel and a lot of
good competition so it's going to take a good day to repeat a championship. I'm
prepared and that's the goal but I understand that it's going to take [a lot].
I can't underestimate anybody."
The most exciting weekend of the year begins Thursday, April 23 and
lasts through Saturday, April 25th.
By Alex Shisler, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Now that we are in the middle of the outdoor season, I
think we can all agree... It's great to compete in the south. When we first
arrived in Baton Rouge, the weather was not looking good for a track meet. The
forecast had called for thunderstorms and over an inch of rain so that's what
we were all preparing for. Luckily for us, Mother Nature had different plans.
The day started off
with a great javelin competition in the rain that Mike Shuey won with a huge
throw of 242 feet and 8 inches. After the rain had stopped in the morning, the
sun was shining for the rest of the day. We had some great performances
throughout the meet but the freshman Bryce Williams grabbed himself a personal- best in the long jump (23-3.25). Steve Waithe had a great showing in
the triple jump where he won the invitational section with a leap of 51-7.25.
After the meet, the
coaching staff treated us to a delicious seafood dinner. It was great to be
able to sit down with the team and discuss all the great performances we had
that day while enjoying food that you definitely cannot get in Central
With another great meet
in the books, it's time for us to focus on the task at hand for next weekend, Penn
By Lexi Masterson, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Penn State track & field was blessed with two sunny days
to compete at the Bucknell Classic this weekend, and the performances did not
Day one was
filled with some very inspiring performances across the board. One of the most
amazing performances came from one of our redshirt athletes. Malik Moffett
competed unattached on Saturday where he made his long jump debut. After only
having about two long jump practices, Malik flew 25 feet to win the event.
throws, Jon Yohman had a 15-foot PR to place second in the discus with a throw
of 171-05. Another personal best in the
throws came from Natalie Shiffler, with a javelin toss of 141 feet. Ryan Kerr
and Cole Proffitt threw well in the javelin as well with Ryan winning the even
at 212 ft. and Cole not too far behind at 200-05.
track, Robby Creese won the 1500 meter run with a
stunning 3:41.74. The women also took
the top two spots in the 1500 with Tori Gerlach and Elizabeth Chikotas crossing
the line in first and second, respectively.
started out strong in the field with Patrick Anderson clearing 15 feet 9 inches
in the pole vault for a college PR.
Women's hammer also stole first and second place with Annjulie Vester
and Rachel Fatherly, in addition to Alyssa Robinson who had a lifetime PR of
track, the men's 4x1 had a season-best time, and Shelly Black and Quenee Dale took
first and second in the 100-meter hurdles.
finished up with the women's pole vault. Although none of us had a personal
best, we thoroughly enjoyed having our whole team cheering for us at the end of
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writerbut throwing an approximately
eight-foot javelin still requires a high level of skill and strength.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2015 Penn State outdoor track and field
campaign in full swing, here's a look at two new events that come with the new
The Javelin Throw
The javelin throw event originates from the times of the Roman Empire when
javelins were used as offensive weapons and thrown at enemies. As a warrior in
ancient times, your main goal was precision, not distance, and success was
measured by how deeply and accurately the javelin reached the opposing target.
Sophomore Michael Shuey is one of Penn State's top javelin throwers and
holds the school-record, gold-medal winning 249-5 throw.
In modern times, the purpose of the event has changed significantly from
war-like to goal and distance oriented,
"It's a combination of being a sprinter, a jumper, and a thrower. We lift
as much as the shot putters and discus throwers and we run close to the same
amount the jumpers do. The body type for a javelin thrower is so unique
compared to all the other events," said Shuey. "The amount of technique that
goes into it...most people don't understand."
With change of times comes change of mindset so, why be a javelin thrower
in modern times?
"I'm the youngest of six so we've been playing games all my life and
throwing things was always my knack in any sport that we played so to find an
event that is just strictly throwing things was just kind of like my calling,"
And similar to ancient times, competitive nature is key along with research
and practice, practice, practice.
"I've played almost every sport in my life and it's made me more
competitive...more than anyone, I think, that has specialized in javelin their
whole life," he said. "I researched and I watched videos every night in high
school, I still do. I just watched what they did and their technique. I picked
out the key concepts they were doing and I tried to apply them everyday."
The 3K Steeplechase
The steeplechase event is arguably one of the hardest events in the outdoor
season. It originates from a similar horseracing event from as early as the
1800s in countries like Ireland and England and incorporates barriers, hurdles,
and water jumps.
Junior Tori Gerlach holds the second best all-time school record of 10:03.55 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase but it
has taken a vast amount of time, dedication, and practice to get to that point.
"It tests your athleticism because you're hurdling and jumping over water
and it tests, not just your endurance, but your technique," Gerlach said. "The
more you do it the better you are at it. Last year, it took like four [races]
for me to finally have a good one."
Unlike the javelin throw, the steeplechase doesn't come from a long history
of war or military-like conflict; however, it requires just as much skills and
"With the hurdles and the water jumps, the approach is really important.
Approaching it and trying to remember everything you were taught is hard and
important," said Gerlach. "Whether you're having a good steeplechase or a bad
race, it hurts the same. When you're going, the hardest part about the water
jump, and the hurdles, and the barriers you're jumping is the efficiency of how
you get over it."
The purest characteristic all great athletes have is their competitive
drive - a drive that both Gerlach and Shuey share.
"For me, [what made me better was] being competitive about it," said
Gerlach. "When I first started, I wasn't that good at it and I kept working at
it and working at it and I just wanted to be competitive in that event and not
only the flat races. For anyone that wants to try it, don't get discouraged.
It's something that you have to keep working at but it's fun!"
Gerlach, Shuey and the rest of Penn State track and field will continue its
outdoor pursuit this weekend when they head to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for the
two-day Bucknell Classic.
By Jordan Makins, GoPSUsports.com
With winter coming to an
end with a touch of spring weather in State College, everyone has been looking
forward to thawing out under the warm weather in Florida. The mood around the
team was positive building up to the Florida Relays and everyone including
myself was rallying at the opportunity to compete. The feeling of running in
short sleeves and shorts under the warmth of the sun was really refreshing for
our pre-meet shake out.
At the Florida Relays,
there were several competitive marks thrown down by the men and women of the
Nittany Lions. It was great to see a few personal records such as Rachel
Fatherly in the shot put (53-2.75), Hannah Mulhern in the pole vault (12-7.5),
Glen Burkhardt in his mile split in the DMR, and Robby Creese showed some toe in
the 800m running a more than respectable 1:48.54. Robert Rhodes made a
statement in his heat running a 1:49.04 season opener to hopefully lock in a
spot for regionals.
Almost everyone had an
opportunity to wear the Blue and White in his or her competitive events this
weekend. Looking back, it was a great travel experience to throw down some
qualifiers and gear up for the bigger championships like Penn Relays, the Big
Ten Championship, and the NCAA Championships.
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State track and field is headed to warm and
sunny Gainesville, Florida to compete in a two-day season opening extravaganza.
The Pepsi Florida Relays is the first of seven stops the Nittany Lions
will make in their outdoor campaign this year and will feature over 280
college, club, and professional teams including some of the nation's top
Sophomore Ean DiSilvio and senior Shelley Black are two of 43 Penn State
student-athletes headed south this weekend accompanying the likes of All-Americans
Sancho Barrett, Tori Gerlach, and Dynasty McGee on the track.
On the field, All-Americans Brian Leap, Robert Cardina, Darrell Hill,
and U-23 NACAC gold-medalist Michael Shuey will be among those representing
the Nittany Lions.
Spring has officially bloomed and so has a new surge of motivation that has
the team's adrenaline set on high.
DiSilivio will be participating in the 1500-meter run and the 3000-meter
steeplechase - his first outdoor meet appearance in a Penn State uniform.
"I'm definitely a little bit nervous. I'm running a steeplechase and
I've never done that before and it has barriers and water you have to jump
over. I'm a little bit nervous but I'm excited too because this is what I
trained through the whole year last year to do," said DiSilvio.
Black will officially open up the weekend for the Nittany Lions when she
steps up to compete in the 100-meter hurdles on Friday afternoon.
"I'm definitely excited to start the outdoor season and get into the
100-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles," said Black. "[I'm most looking
forward to] to the 100 [meter] hurdles. I've been training a lot the past few
weeks and focusing a lot on that event and I'm excited to see what I can do."
While individual goals are always on the board, the team's success is
always the number one priority and coming off a long, cold indoor season hasn't
put a damper on their efforts.
"I'm ready and everyone is ready to go," said DiSilvio. "It's going to
be a good season."
"We're always focusing individually on improving but there's always the
team aspect too and trying to get a Big Ten Championship is always a team
goal...individual goals just help the team achieve that," said Black.
The meet, which will air live on the SEC Network, will feature the
Nittany Lions on Friday and Saturday, April 3-4, beginning at 12:15
p.m. on Friday and continuing on Saturday morning beginning at 11 a.m.