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Women's 4x400m Relay Looks to Become Dream Team

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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014 outdoor season underway, the Penn State track and field team isn't taking any breaks as it looks to continue a record-breaking year.

This year, the Nittany Lions have showed off every last bit of sweat, every extra minute of effort, and every ounce of dedication they've shed at practice. Their perseverance has been reciprocated with new record times and numerous event sweeps.

A big component of the track and field team is the group of women that make up the 4x400 meter relay team: One freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one graduate student who not only won at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but also broke a university record at the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish.

Relay and sprinting assistant coach to the team Randy Bungard says this group of women is one of the hardest working on the team.

"They do everything I ask them to do," Bungard says. "They always want to do better and I believe they can."

The relay team has brought together four women who are accustomed to individual competition and created a team of champions. That being said, a Big Ten title and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA level does not come without adversity and obstacles.

***

When the sun rises and the mind is racing and the nerves are wired and the adrenaline is pumping, it can only mean one thing - it's race day.


The starter pistol fires and off she goes, baton in hand, at full-blown All-American speed, the lead runner of the Penn State women's track 4x400 meter relay race, junior Dynasty McGee.

For McGee, race day is when you show how much you've been putting into practice. Race day is a reflection of dedication and time.

"How you practice is how you run. Practice makes perfect and if you practice hard, you run hard," McGee said. "And when it's time [to race], we're serious and we're praying. I'm trying to calm [the team] down while keeping myself calm."

This season is McGee's third with the team and, so far, her dedication and commitment to the track is evident. She's consistent in victory, as most all-American athletes are.

In the 2013 outdoor season, she won the 200m race at the Jim Thorpe Open, she won the 400 m race at the Bucknell Team Challenge, and she finished fourth overall at the Big Ten Championships, to name a few.

There is always room for improvement, she says, and she will continue to work on the things she needs to work on to reach her goals, individually and with her team.

"Practices are going really well. We are working on the things we need to. As a team, I feel like we are getting along really well," she said. "The team now is a totally different team than it was my freshman year. We get along a lot better and we support each other a lot more."

She reflects on the changes she's seen in herself and her team throughout her three years.

"As a freshman, it was hard for me [to transition] so the things that they did to me that I didn't like, I make sure that I don't do that. Freshman year we have a bunch of divas and we weren't walking around holding hands, but now we have a good relationship. I make sure that I'm easy to talk to. If they need something, I will do my best to provide that," she explains. "Without [the other team members], I wouldn't have these accolades. I'm very grateful to them."

Coach Bungard is a fan of McGee's consistency and ability to mentor those around her. He is certain that her tenacity will lead her to her goals.

"Dynasty is steady," Bungard said. "She will probably get to first rounds, which is the NCAA qualifying. She didn't get there last year and having a shot to make the NCAA championship is a big thing."

On race day, she nears the end of her lap and hands off the baton to the second runner of the relay team All-American sprinter and veteran member, Mahagony Jones.

Jones is finishing her fifth and final season with Penn State where she's spent five years growing into the person and the athlete she is today. In 2013 alone, Jones was an All-American, a two-time Big Ten Champion (200 m and 4x400 m relay) and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Women's Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year.

"Mahagony is just Mahagony. She's always there when she needs to be," said Bungard.

She, like her teammates, spends day in and out on the field working on her goals.

"It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of motivation, and staying focused," she explains. "You can't get in your own way. You need confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself and in your teammates."

This season is more than just another one for the record books for Jones. This season is her final chance to leave her legacy at Penn State before venturing out to the world of post-collegiate track.

"Penn State track has raised me these past five years. I've definitely grown a lot since I got here," Jones said.

She wants to capture some more All-American moments, she says, which she will focus on for the rest of this year.

As for her post Penn State career, let's just say Jones does not plan on leaving the track behind her just yet. She hopes to one-day stand on a bigger podium, one where she will have the opportunity to represent something bigger than herself.

Halfway through the race.

Up next on the spotlight, the third runner of the relay and the youngest of the Nittany Lions, freshman Tichina Rhodes.

Rhodes is in her first season as an NCAA Division I athlete and it has definitely a road of adjustments.

"When she first came in, she lacked a little bit of confidence. She wasn't sure what to expect and probably never expected to make this relay," said Coach Bungard. "She was overwhelmed with academics and the training was a bit different than she had done and I think without the other three [relay members] she probably wouldn't have survived."

"It's been a lot of fun but it has also been a lot of hard work. In high school, I was at the top. I was leading workouts and [I] come to college and [I] have to work my way up," said Rhodes. "[My teammates] push me a lot to better myself. Here I'm not always leading the workouts and they help out a lot."

Confidence is a fundamental for success and Rhodes has put all her trust in herself, her teammates, and her coaches, who have been working all season to mentor her to become the best she can be. Being a top-level athlete is no easy feat and coming off an up and down individual season, Rhodes is just working on progress.

She steps up the plate when necessary and her teammates smile when they talk about her dedication.

"She hasn't let us down yet," they say.


Almost at the finish line.

Anchoring the relay and running one of the most crucial last moments of race is sprinter, hurdler, All-American sophomore Kiah Seymour.

Last weekend, Seymour broke a 200-meter race facility record at the Bucknell Team Challenge finishing in 23.66 seconds.

Seymour is in her second year with the Penn State Track and Field team where she's already established her ability.

"Kiah is very mature and she's one of the top athletes on the team. She came in in such better shape this year," said Bungard.

"From this year to last year I would say I made a 180-degree change. I've progressed a whole lot more because I want it more now. I love what I do. I love the sport and that makes it easier for me and this is where I feel the most comfortable. That's really what motivates me and drives me to keep going," Seymour said.

Seymour is a quiet individual with a fierce competitive attitude. She sits quietly, still, and focused. As her time at Penn State passes, her drive only becomes greater.

It's evident to her teammates and those around that while she is great at what she does, she will one day be phenomenal. She's a force to reckoned with.

End race day.

This race day, however, ended with more than just tired legs. This race day ended with history. At the end of the day at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the women earned a fifth-place finish in their relay race, a Penn State record.

They just went out there and did what they know how to do: run hard, they said.

"We weren't expecting to break a record," said Jones. "We just went out there and did our best."

Modesty at its finest.

"But it was great," Jones said with a smile on her face.

Her teammates laughed with her.


***

The Nittany Lions are more focused now than ever as they enter the prime of their outdoor season.

This is what they train for, they said.

All four women agree that the most important part of racing is believing in yourself and in your teammates.

"Don't get into your own head," they all said. "Confidence is key."

McGee says their relationships on and off the field are great and they are key components in team performances.

"We have gotten a lot closer this year. Relationships outside the track definitely contribute [to success]," said McGee.

"They've got a pretty good natural chemistry and that's one of the things that I think is special about this relay," said Bungard.

For now, all four athletes will focus on their individual events.

McGee will look to qualify and impress at a national level.

Jones will strive for All-America status and she will look to break her own personal best.

"Mahagony was third indoor in the 200 [meter race] so she wants to at least be that good outdoor and [she] want to make the 100-meter final," said Bungard.

Seymour will look to surpass even her own expectations.

"Kiah didn't win the Big Ten in 400-meter hurdles last year so I know that's a goal of hers and she's leading the Big Ten; she wants to finish high in the NCAA," said Bungard.

Rhodes will look to grow to full Nittany Lion Division I potential. She will continue to work on her confidence and hopes to truly prepare herself and to make her presence known.

When they compete as a relay team, the women bring together their most valuable assets and they hope to outshine to competition. 

While Penn State will be losing a valuable runner in Jones come graduation, the future looks very bright. McGee, Rhodes, and Seymour will return next year with the Nittany Lions in search to break more records and Coach Bungard is confident that fans can expect nothing but great things from these four superstars, both individually, as a team, on and off the field.

Look out for these four dominant girls and the rest of the track team as they venture through their outdoor season. Up next is the Penn Relays held in Philadelphia, which begin on Thursday.

From My View - Sun Angel Classic

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend, we had the opportunity to travel to the west coast and run at Arizona State. We drove to Pittsburgh International Airport Thursday night after every one finished class and practice. We slept at the hotel connected to the airport and flew out to Phoenix, Ariz., at 6 a.m. on Friday. I'm usually good at being a morning person but 6 a.m. was rough.

We successfully made it to Arizona 4 hours and 15 minutes later. When we arrived we had to turn our clocks back three hours because of the time difference. My body didn't react too well to the time difference the next morning when I woke up at 5 a.m. because my 8 o'clock east coast body wanted to get up. Nonetheless the weather was perfect out in Arizona. It was 80 degrees with clear skies and a nice gentle breeze both days we were there.

Race day was Saturday, and I got the opportunity to run the 400 against indoor national champion Deon Leondore of Texas A&M. My race didn't go as planned, but luckily I have a few more meets to make some adjustments. My teammates did a tremendous job of showing up and competing. My teammate Alex Shisler ran well in his first meet back after an injury that cost him his entire indoor season. He ran a personal best of 47.25 in the 400-meter dash. Byron Robinson also had a great day in running a new personal best of 46.12 in the 400-meter dash. He was pretty upset afterwards that he didn't run 45 seconds, but he'll learn that this sport is all about timing and patience.

I'm glad that our coaching staff decided to put this meet on our schedule because it has helped us realize what we need to improve on as a team in the upcoming weeks and it is always nice to go and run in nice warm weather. 

From My View - Crimson Tide Invite

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The outdoor season has officially begun! This past weekend we were able to take a huge part of our team down to the University of Alabama to compete at their team invite. Traveling for outdoor is completely different compared to indoor. We usually only have one or two travel trips indoor that are within driving distance.

During the outdoor season, we try and chase warm weather early so we fly down south or to the west coast for our first few meets. Flying with such a large team is always a fun and enjoyable experience when we arrive at airports because people don't normally see such a large group of athletes traveling together.

I enjoyed our trip down to Alabama this weekend a lot. The people down south showed so much love and hospitality. The hotel staff and the meet management really showed what the south is truly about.

Our first outdoor meet as a team was very successful. The women's team won as a team, and the men's team finished second. The women started off the season strong coming off their Big Ten championship.

I ran the open 400 to start off my season and finished third with a time of 47.81. It was not my best performance at all but it helped show what I need to practice and improve on the next couple of days before we hit the road again.

I got a chance to watch the men's and women's 400-meter hurdle races where Penn State did a phenomenal job. The women finished 1-2-3 with Kiah Seymour leading the way in a NCAA leading time of 57.12. On the men's side, freshmen Byron Robinson won his race in a time of 50.75 with no one even close the last 50 meters of his race. My teammates put on such an impressive showing and have gotten me excited and motivated to improve my performance next week at Arizona State.

With our first meet in the books it has helped show the team that we need to build off of our performance this past weekend and continue to work hard at practice so we can accomplish the goals we have set out individually and as a team. 

From My View - Looking Ahead to the Outdoor Season

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The indoor season is officially over! It had its ups and downs but that's what this sport is all about. You have to be able to maintain a level head through the highs and lows. Our men's team came up a bit short at indoor nationals but every one is excited for this upcoming outdoor season.

The first week back of spring break is always rough and this week was no different for the sprinters. Our hardest work out of the week came on Friday where we had to run three 500s in a pretty intense pace with five minutes rest. I'm glad that we got a chance to get some intense work in because this outdoor season will be one to remember.

One reason I'm looking forward to the outdoor season is that I finally get to watch my javelin teammates compete. Since javelin is not contested indoor many of my teammates train through the indoor season and work as volunteers for our home meets. I'm looking forward to watching Cole Profit and Michael Shuey throw because they have been itching to throw all year. I'm also excited to watch All-Americans Lauren Kenney and Laura Loht throw because I know they want another All-American honor added to their impressive resumes. 

Our first meet as a team will be next weekend at the University of Alabama. Two of my teammates (Brittney Howell & Rob Cardina) actually have the honor of opening up the season for Penn State at Texas Relays this weekend as they compete in their respective multi events. Track and field is a unique sport because we are able to split our squad up and compete at different places during the same weekend. Half of our team will be heading to the University of Alabama for our first meet and another half will be out Stanford University competing.
 I wish we were able to bring the rest of the team to Texas Relays this weekend but I don't have control of scheduling where everyone competes. Our second meet is at Arizona State April 11-12.

With the sport of track and field you have to run in warm weather if you want to run fast times. Since our first two meets are in perfect conditions weather wise you should expect some great results from the Penn State men and women's team in the upcoming weeks!

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.)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

From My View - Big Ten Championships

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By
Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend didn't go as planned for the men's team. The women's team did a great job of putting together a great meet when things weren't looking to well for them and ended up becoming champions.

Track and field is a very humbling sport. One day you are on top of the world after a great meet. Then the next day you compete and things don't go as planned. This weekend, we finished third, and I believe we earned that third place spot. Wisconsin brought the necessary energy and focus to win. We are still a team to be reckoned with, and at outdoor Big Tens, we will show that. Watching the girls celebrate really motivated me, and hopefully it motivates my teammates to go out and perform like we know how come outdoors. We definitely have the necessary pieces in place to become a championship team. We have kids who are willing to sacrifice their only personal glory for the betterment of the team. Kids like Nick Scarpello who paced the mile heat. And for Wade (Endress) and Robby (Creese), who really show what true sacrifice is about.

We also have kids who are resilient even when faced with adversity. My brother Brandon didn't make the 400m final but came back later in the day and ran an impressive 400m leg on the DMR and became a Big Ten champ in that event as a result. This weekend was a true eye-opener to what we have to do to become Big Ten champs. As long as we take things one moment and one day at a time, we will be champions this outdoor season. The indoor season isn't over yet because we still have NCAA Indoor National Championships in two weeks. We definitely have a chip on our shoulders to prove to the entire country not just the Big Ten that we are a team that everyone needs to look out for. 

Recapping SPIRE Team Invitational & UW Husky Classic

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State track and field put on a remarkable effort as they split the squad and competed this past weekend on the west coast in Washington and in Ohio.

9716466.jpeg"We had a great weekend of competition in Ohio and Washington. Our teams have completed phase one of our big ten drive and that is to have a very successful regular season," said Director and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan.

At the UW Husky Classic, sophomore Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio.) set the stage for the Lions, as he finished second in the mile in a personal best time of 3:58.49. This is the second time this indoor season that Kidder has ran under four minutes.

On the women's side, junior Leigha Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.) ran a new personal record of 16:32 in the 5000m. Senior Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) had another impressive weekend as she ran a life time best time of 4:42.81 in the mile.

At the SPIRE team invite, team captain Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio.) started things off for the team as he finished second in the weight throw with a toss of 68-3.75. Junior Darrell Hill (Philadelphia, Pa.) followed Barr's performance by finishing third in shot put with a season's best throw of 62-2.5.

"After struggling for most of the indoor season it felt good to put together a consistent meet at such a high level. Knowing that we'll back here in two weeks really sets my confidence high that I'll be able to get the job done at big ten's," said Hill.

Penn State continued to thrive in the field as juniors Steve Waithe (Parkville, Md.) and Brian Leap (Bellwood, Pa.) finished first and second in triple jump. Waithe put down a career best mark of 52-6 and Leap placed a mark of 50-9.25. Senior Jon Hendershot (Nazareth, Pa.) also did well in the field as he leaped to a mark of 6-11.75 in high jump for a second place finish.

The women also put on a show in the field as Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) and Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) finished first and second in the weight throw. Fatherly placed a toss of 62-8 while Kurzdorfer tossed the weight 64-6.5. Penn State finished third and fourth in the high jump as sophomore Ahmenah Richardson (Philadelphia, Pa) and senior Brittney Howell (Wyncote, Pa.) both leaped 5-7.75.

Penn State had a superb showing on the track, as sophomore Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) led things off by running 52.74 in the 400m. Senior Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio.) followed suit by running a personal record of 23.34 in the 200m. The men fed off the women's performance with senior Bernard Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) a lifetimes best of 46.55 in the 400m. Freshmen Byron Robinson (Chesapeake, Va.) ran 46.88 which stands as the second time this season that the freshmen has ran sub 47 seconds. The women's 4x400m relay team of Dynasty McGee (Flint, Michigan), Mahagony Jones, Tichina Rhodes (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Kiah Seymour finished the meet off strong by winning in a time of 3:35.31.

From My View
This was the first time this season that we got a chance to get on the road and compete away from home. I love competing at home, but I wish we got a chance to get on the road sooner just so the underclassmen could get a chance to be put in an unfamiliar environment so they could learn and grow from it. The four-hour drive to Ohio was great because we got a chance to get out of State College before the snow got too bad. Traveling with your teammates to a track meet gives you a great chance to bond with your teammates and connect with them in ways that you wouldn't by just having a track meet at home. When you are on the road all you have is your teammates, and that is a great feeling knowing that they have your back and you have theirs no matter what. Watching the field and track events this past weekend really got me excited for Big Tens in two weeks. I saw every single one of my teammates competing to the best of their abilities. I even saw a few of my teammates come up big when they were faced with unfamiliar circumstances.  My teammate Steve Waithe had to wait two hours from his original time to triple jump because of the multiple flights that had to be run before him. He took all of that pent-up energy and emotion and jumped his career best on his first jump of the meet. Moments like the one that Steve had really put a smile on my face and makes me enjoy the sport of track and field more. I enjoy them because it shows even when you think things aren't going your way they still can as long as you keep the faith and believe in your self.

We are back in action in two weeks as we head back to Geneva, Ohio, for the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships. If you can come out please support us as we run, jump, and throw for the glory.

Recapping Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State track and field put on an impressive show for its fans at the final indoor home meet of the year at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup.


9691968.jpegSophomore Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio.) blazed the track in the 800m run with a win and a season-best time of 1:47.45. His teammate Za'Von Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.) finished third in a time of 1:48.11.

"For both of them to come in and PR indoors and for Brannon to run the number one time in the NCAA right now and Za'Von being number five it was a very good performance for them," said associate head coach John Gondak.

On the women's side, senior Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) won the 800m run in a season-best time of 2:10.04.

In the field, freshmen Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.) vaulted 13-1.75 to win and set a new personal record. Her teammate Erin Knabe (Voorhees, N.J.) finished in second with a vault of 12-10. Staying on the ladies side, senior Marlene Ricketts (Old Westbury, N.Y.) won triple with a leap of 40-06. In the shot put, Sophomore Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) won with a throw of 51-05.

Senior Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) put on a show as she won the weight throw with a toss of 68-6. In the women's high jump, sophomore Ahmenah Richardson leaped to a win with her mark of 5-9.25.

On the men's side, senior Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio.) won weight throw with a season's best toss of 69-8.

"I felt really good. I wanted a couple more inches but it was a good note to end my home career on for indoors," said Barr.

Junior Darrell Hill (Philadelphia, Pa.) finished in second in the men's shot put with a throw of 59-7. In the men's long jump Penn State finished 1-2-3 as Brian Leap (Bellwood, Pa.) led the way with a mark of 23-6.75). Steve Waithe (Parkville, Md.) captured a victory in triple jump with a leap of 51-0.

Penn State dominated sprints action on the men and women's side. Senior Mahagony Jones won the 60m dash in a time of 7.40 while senior Brittney Howell (Wyncote, Pa.) won the 60m hurdles in a personal best time of 8.36. Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) won the women's 200m dash in a season's best time of 23.77.

On the men's side, junior Sancho Barrett (Amityville, N.Y.) won the 60m hurdles in a time of 6.92. Freshmen Byron Robinson (Chesapeake, V.A.) continued his stellar freshmen campaign by winning the 200m dash in a time of 21.25.

Later in the day, both the men and women's 4x400m relay teams were able to bring home victories. The men's team consisting of Bernard Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), Za'Von Watkins, Byron Robinson, and Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) finished first in a time of 3:10.35. The women's team consisting of Dynasty McGee (Flint, Michigan.), Kiah Seymour, Tichina Rhodes (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Mahagony Jones won in a season's best time of 3:34.22.

From My View

The Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup was my last indoor home meet of my college career and it was one that I will always remember. On Friday night, I got the chance to just be a fan and watch my teammates compete. I got the opportunity to watch weight throw from start to finish for the first time in my career. Weight throw is a really intense and fun event to watch. Standing inside the throwing circle can be dangerous if you aren't paying attention to every thing that's going on. I got to watch Will Barr throw his season's best throw of the year on his final throw as a senior at home. It was a really special moment because he got the slow clap going which is unusual for Will to do. I also got to watch hard it is for officials in throwing events because if you aren't paying close attention you could change the outcome of a meet in an instance. I also got the chance to watch both men and women's hurdle races. It was great to see Brittney Howell run a huge personal record in the hurdles as she won the event. It was also great to watch Sancho Barrett come from behind and win his hurdle race. On Saturday, I ran the 200m dash for the first time this an ended up running a indoor personal record of 21.72. My teammates Byron Robinson and Alex Kenney put on a great performance as well during the meet. Byron ran a new indoor personal best of 21.25 and Alex ran a new season's best of 21.8. I'm excited to see what the rest of the indoor season has in store for us as a team because we are in a good spot to accomplish something that we haven't yet as a program.

We are back in action in next weekend as we split up the squad and head to Ohio and Seattle next weekend. If you can come out please support us as we run, jump, and throw for the glory.

Recapping the Penn State National

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State track and field displayed why they are considered one of the top teams in the country this past weekend at Penn State National.


8872211.jpegSenior Brittney Howell (Wyncote, Pa.) started things off for the team by winning the pentathlon and scoring a personal best of 4,061 points. Howell's point total currently ranks her sixth in the country and second in the Big Ten. On the men's side, redshirt freshmen Robert Cardina (Lancaster, Pa.) was able to win the heptathlon and score a personal best of 5,257 points.

Director and head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan was very impressed with the Nittany Lions.

"Oh my god we were on fire. We had a great weekend. I mean honestly from start to finish it was a good twenty plus hours of track and field. We competed extremely well over two days of competition which is very useful when we get to championship time," said Alford-Sullivan.

In the sprints, Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio.) was able to finish as the top collegiate in the 60m dash with a time of 7.26. Red-shirt senior Evonne Britton (El, Paso, Texas.) finished third in the 60m hurdles but was able to break the school record with her time of 8.15. In the women's 400m dash, sophomore Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) finished in second with a personal best time of 53.26.

On the men's side, freshmen Byron Robinson (Chesapeake, Va.) finished third in the 400m dash with a personal best time of 46.73 while his teammate Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) finished in fourth with a season best time of 46.74. Currently, Robinson is ranked second and Bennett-Green is ranked third in the Big Ten.

In the field, Penn State demonstrated another strong showing across the board. Senior Jon Hendershot (Nazareth, Pa.) finished first in high jump with a mark of 7-2.5. Senior Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio.) continued his undefeated streak by winning in the weight throw with a toss of 68-3.75. Junior Darrell Hill (Philadelphia, Pa.) picked up his first win of the season by winning shot put with a toss of 60-01.25.

On the distance side, sophomore Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) was able to win and set a personal record in the mile with a time of 3:59.55. Also doing well in the mile was junior Wade Endress (Altoona, Pa.) who finished seventh in a personal best time of 4:04.51.

"It was good I felt strong. I haven't raced indoors in two years. I had my opening race two weeks ago and I dropped five seconds from then so I'm pretty happy with it," said Endress.

On the women's side, senior Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) finished fourth in the mile with a personal best time of 4:44.80. Her teammate Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) also finished fourth but in the 3000m with a personal best time of 9:14.75.

Later in the evening, the women's 4x400 meter relay team of Dynasty McGee (Flint, Mich.), Mahagony Jones, Tichina Rhodes (Philadelphia, Pa), and Kiah Seymour won with a season's best time of 3:36.41.


From My View
The Penn State National was definitely a meet that I will not forget. Not because I didn't have my best performance but because all of my teammates had great performances across the board. My teammate Brittney Howell told me in the beginning of the week that her goal was to score 4,000 or more points in the pentathlon and she went out and did it. My other teammate Darrell Hill just wanted to get a positive marked down because he hasn't had the throws that he wanted yet this season. Both teammates were able to fulfill those goals that they set out to do. It's amazing to see how some one has a goal and they work towards it and accomplish it. I was also proud to watch Byron Robinson and my brother Brandon do well in the men's 400m dash. We all planned on running 46 seconds or better and they held up their end of the bargain. I unfortunately I wasn't able to hold up my end because I got boxed in during my race. It was definitely a learning experience that I realized and I will correct the next time I step out on the track. A quote that happened to pop up in my head after that race is, "Your true character shows when you are faced with adversity". I could of got mad and complained about my race but I didn't. I just went out and cheered on my teammates as they raced through out the day. In the sport of track and field it is all about the process. As long as you focus on the day-to-day process of getting better everything else will come together when it is supposed to.

We are back in action in our last indoor home of the season next weekend. Please come out and support us as we run, jump, and throw for the glory. 

One Summer - Steve Waithe

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Picture beginning your summer as this average height athlete of 5-feet-3 and not knowing your true calling in a sport that you spend countless hours on. Now picture yourself at the end of your summer, three months later, transforming to the height of 6-feet-2 with your coach finally having the perfect idea of how to inspire you and help you flourish.

9633236.jpegMany of us will never experience something like this but Penn State triple jumper Steve Waithe has.

"It was definitely my summer track coach my 10th grade year. I hit a growth spurt I was about five seven that summer. I got to about six two. So he was like let's try out triple jump. You know I was athletic and talented in long jump so he figured my height would definitely translate over to triple jump," Waithe said.

That one summer, everything seemed to change for Waithe. He began to jump well in high school by becoming the Maryland state champion and started to get consideration to attend big universities such as Clemson and Penn State to triple jump during his senior year.

The Baltimore native comes from a family full of experienced track and field athletes.  His brothers Stann and Stevann ran for Michigan, while his sister Anneve ran at Wake Forest. His oldest brother Stann also competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing for Trinidad and Tobago.

Even though he comes from a strong track and field background, it didn't necessarily mean that he would follow in his siblings' footsteps and go to a Division I school and compete in track and field. Coming out of high school, Waithe didn't have the best grades so he ended up training with his brother Stann for a few months down in Atlanta after he graduated. He had dreams of jumping for Penn State, but ended up somewhere else before that chapter could begin.

"My original plan was to go to Penn State. High school-wise my GPA wasn't there so I had to go division two because I couldn't get into division one. Shippensburg was a kind of get up and go type of thing," said Waithe. "I was competing unattached at a Bucknell indoor meet and I saw the coach and my mom talked to him and literally that's how I found Shippensburg. I had no clue what Shippensburg was before that."

Waithe made a huge splash at Shippensburg by obtaining numerous prestigious awards after a historic first season with the Raiders. He was named the 2012 PSAC Outdoor Track & Field Freshman of the Year and Outdoor Championships Field MVP. He also continued his impressive freshmen year by taking advantage of the opportunity to represent his country of Trinidad and Tobago at the IAAF junior world championships in 2012 that was held in Barcelona.

"It was definitely a wake up call. I saw what the world has to offer and all the different countries. People can jump everywhere. I also had a bad meet. I don't think I was mentally prepared. I walked into it just kind of happy to be there. It made me more hungry for the future internationally," Waithe said.

Competing on the international level has helped the Waithe family flourish in their individual careers. The whole concept of family is something that has stuck with Waithe his whole life and what led him to Penn State.

"I've always liked the vibe at Penn State. I visited here twice. Once in high school and then came for another visit just to see what I was getting into. Just with the track team it's a family feeling. I've seen with Michigan and other schools like Auburn," said Waithe. "I used to train down south closer to Auburn. Not all teams have that comradery that Penn State has. That's big to me because that's what makes championships."


Once Waithe stepped on the runway at Penn State his vibe began to help inspire his teammates.

"Steve is a great teammate. He has a positive attitude. He's determined and he keeps the mood light. He's funny and meshed well with us right away," said teammate Michael McClelland. "He keeps all of the triple jumpers on their toes. He's helped lift all of us the extra step."

"He's real supportive. He jokes around a lot but he's really serious and really dedicated to the triple jump," said teammate Johnathon Jacoway. "He gives me pointers when my form looks bad and is really supportive when he can tell that I'm not really into it."

Not only has Waithe inspired his teammates but he has also impressed some of his coaches by performing well at Shippensburg and also at Penn States first few home meets.

"His potential at the conference and national level is really there. It gives a lot of depth and strength to the team. Then overall he's a great guy. This is a really cool kid. He brings a lot of experience but also a lot of confidence," said Director and Head Track & Field Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. 

Not only does he inspire others to do well but he also sets some high goals for himself as a result of watching his brothers perform on the big ten level.

"I definitely want to start off with being a big ten champ. That's something I've always wanted to do. Watching my brother grow up at Michigan he always had the opportunity to steal the big ten title in the 400. He fell short a few times so that's something that I want to do," Waithe said. "I think it's very well doable this year and just try and stay consistent through out the year. I want to be an All-American also because I think that's doable with the progress that I have going on right now."