Recently in Track & Field Category

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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, Philadelphia native.

"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 back.

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 straight year.

"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 accomplish that."

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.

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By Alex Shisler, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
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 Pennsylvania.

With another great meet in the books, it's time for us to focus on the task at hand for next weekend, Penn Relays!

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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 disappoint either.

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.

In the 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.

On the 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. 

Day two 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 161-07.

On the 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.

The day 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 the meet. 

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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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 season.

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, 

but throwing an approximately eight-foot javelin still requires a high level of skill and strength.


"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," said Shuey.

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 training.

"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 MakinsGoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer

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 athletes.

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.

By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the indoor season in the books, Penn State track and field has revved up new energy and is ready to begin the 2015 outdoor campaign.

Contrary to most people's opinion, the outdoor and indoor seasons are two different animals and each one requires a renewed sense of motivation, training, and skill.

The outdoor season lasts longer and introduces new events both on the field and on the track such as the javelin throw, hammer throw, and discus.

It also comes along with a new set of challenges such as the weather, in-meet ambiance, and traveling.

The new season, which lasts from mid-March to mid-June, will take the team to the warm and sunny outdoors of Florida, Louisiana, California, and Georgia, to name a few.

Logistics

"Indoor is sort of a meets to an end. Without the indoor season we would just be training for months without any meets and that would be draining," said assistant coach Randy Bungard. "We train mostly to do well outdoor. Indoor is important to us but we train to peak and run our fastest outdoor."

The sprints and middle-distance runners see the most difference in the transition from inside to outside with addition of 4x100-meter relay, 10,000-meter run, 400-meter hurdle race, and the 3,000-meter steeplechase events.

"The 4x100 [relay], everybody loves that event. It's so fun," said Bungard. "Sprint medleys, the Penn Relays...those are fun. That's where you bring in the team aspect of it. Penn Relays is one of our favorite meets of the year. There's a lot more variety outdoor with relays, traveling. It's just better."

Outdoors also brings a much bigger track, usually double in size, 200 meters to 400 meters in circumference. It doesn't bank outdoors as it does indoor and it has longer straight edges with fewer turns, which sometimes works to the advantage of the athlete.

"The big difference is that if we're going to run a 200 [meter race] outside, you just have one huge turn and a straight away. Turns slow you down a little bit. [Indoor] if you're going to run a 200 you have to run with two slow curves. Naturally, by the facility, times will be faster outdoor," said Bungard.

Saying Strong

Staying stable and motivated can be difficult for student-athletes since the there is such a seamless transition between seasons that doesn't allow for much rest.

"They way I keep the kids from burning out is to keep some tempo in their work outs. From the beginning of the season to the end in June or July, there are days that we will [train at] 75% tempo. That is how you keep them from burning out. It holds off the peaking. And a big thing is having a couple rest days in there. [It's] is important," said Bungard.

Remaining Motivated

With proper training, student-athletes trust that they will remain in tip-top shape, which gives more room to simply enjoy what they do.

"[The athletes] get more excited and motivated. They get to travel and to warm weather places," said Bungard. "You have the weather and sometimes some tail wind...you have to deal with the elements outdoor which you don't [indoors]. The kids and coaches just like outdoor better. You're in the sun. You're outside. It's just a better atmosphere."

The indoor season brings a more intense environment with the enclosed facility and small space for fans, student-athletes, and coaches to be closer amongst each other.

However, the opposite can also be the beauty of the outdoor season - the independence of the student-athletes allows them to be focused and unstoppable.

"I like the indoor meets because the track is right here and the [fans] are right here... it's like a three ring circus. During outdoor, javelin is here and the discus is over there... the track is huge you don't have that intensity. But on the flip side I like that about outdoors. We train to be independent," said Bungard.

The team is set to begin its outdoor season on Friday, April 3rd when they travel to Gainesville, Florida and Palo Alto, California for the Florida Relays and Stanfo

By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The last three months brought out some of the very best of the Penn State track and field squad, proving that Nittany Lion fans have a unique opportunity that most people do not: the ability to see student-athletes grow and improve day after day reaching the limits of the potential and then surpassing them motivated by the pride of the dear old white and blue.

Here's a look back on what the Nittany Lions accomplished this season.

"The First Meet!"

Although the indoor season began with a friendly intrasquad match where student-athletes were able to dust off, the Penn State Relay was the first meet of the year to bring in other competing schools to the Ashenfelter Indoor Track.

The meet, which is expected to be full of 'first-meet jitters', was far from disappointing.

In his first meet, senior Darrell Hill broke the school record in the shot put with a 66-2.5 throw - a foreshadowing, maybe.

The quartet of Jordan Makins, Ryan Brennan, Brannon Kidder, and Robby Creese set the meet record in the 4x800-meter relay with a time of 7.22.10.

Megan Osborne, one-fourth of the 4x400-meter relay women, won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.69.

'We Are...Pitbulls'

The second home meet of the year, the Nittany Lion Challenge, was significantly more competitive than the first as it brought to Happy Valley top-level schools like the University of Miami and Georgetown.

Coach Randy Bungard described the Nittany Lions as pitbulls ready to attack the competition with no intentions other than winning and pushing their opponents to their absolute limits.

And that they did as Penn State pulled through winning ten events and setting two meet records.

The consistent Darrell Hill was dominant in the shot put once again with a meet record 64-5.25 throw and in the women's shot put, junior Rachel Fatherly took home the win with a meet record throw of 51-7.

The field athletes were motivated during this meet as Steve Waithe (52-1) and Brian Leap (51-9.75) both posted winning and personal best marks in the triple jump, respectively.

"My Favorite Meet of the Year"

The most anticipated, most thrilling meet of the year, the Penn State National, was up next for Penn State.

Junior Dannielle Gibson described this meet best: "All I can say is PRs, PRs, PRs!" she said.

Gibson won the triple jump event with a mark of 40-7.75 and Brian Leap took home the win for the men with a top-six NCAA and personal best leap of 52-3.75.

All the women shot putters posted personal best throws and were highlighted by the outstanding Rachel Fatherly who threw a personal best, top-three at Penn State and top-15 in the nation, 67-5.25.

To be the best, you must beat the best. So, Darrell Hill showed up once again bested his school record with a toss of 67-3.  

To keep the ball rolling, the athletes on the track didn't disappoint.

Brannon Kidder posted a top-three time in the nation of 1:47.86 in the 800-meter run and both the men and women of 4x400-meter relays took home first place with times of 3:15.83 and 3:40.43, respectively.

Senior Day

The nostalgia of graduation set in around the beginning of February at the Sykes and Sabock Challenge Cup where 17 student-athletes were recognized for their commitment to the Penn State program for the last four years.

However, senior Robby Creese didn't let the emotions get in the way of his performance as he ran an exhilarating 3:57.86 mile. The fourth best time in the country and the best ran time in the NCAA earned him the Big Ten's Men's Athlete of the week honors the following week.

The consistency of the 2014-2015 upperclassmen is so note-worthy. Head coach John Gondak describes it as "a sign of maturity".

It's Time for a Business Trip

Up next on the schedule for Penn State was their first away meet of the season where three groups of student-athletes traveled to three cities - Fayetteville, Arkansas; Seattle, Washington; and Geneva, Ohio.

In Seattle, Robby Creese ran a phenomenal 3,000-meters in 7:50.36, which broke the Penn State school record by almost four seconds.

Also, on the track, Brannon Kidder posted a sub-4 minute mile, a personal best time of 3:57.13, the No. 2 time in Penn State history.

In Arkansas, the personal records were flying everywhere.

Ahmenah Richardson moved up to fourth-best at Penn State in the high jump with a height of 5-9.75.

Megan Osborne has a personal best 200-meter time of 24.30 and the women of the 4x400-meter relay ran a season-best 3:34.90.

Rachel Fatherly, again, with a personal best indoor shot put throw of 52-2.75 and more from the field, Dannielle Gibson with a triple jump best of 41-1.50.

"What Time Is it?...It's Championship time!"

When you set the bar as high as Penn State does, it can be easy to overlook foundations and accomplishments that are on par with some of the best in the nation.

There were countless personal best performances at the championships proving that they are resilient and committed to improving leaving nothing but their all every time they step out to compete.

Darrell Hill's consistency is arguably one of the most motivating assets this team has. Several Nittany Lions mention his performance as a representation of the standards they set for themselves - believe in yourself and always work for better.

Rachel Fatherly's control and focus were so entertaining this year. She is aware of the things that help her succeed - an advantage not all athletes may have.

Brian Leap posted a personal best triple jump 52-6.75 during the Big Ten Championship. At a time where competition and stakes are as high as the conference championships, a personal best record is remarkable.

Tori Gerlach who has been quietly and diligently working all year, earned her shining moment on the podium with a first-place 5k finish joining the likes of Robby Creese and Brannon Kidder who took first and second respectively in the men's one-mile.

NCAA Championships

The officially close the season eleven student-athletes earned a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to compete in the National Championship.

On the men's side, the distance medley relay of Brannon Kidder, Alex Shisler, Za'Von Watkins and Robby Creese ran to a second-place finish with the No. 3 time in school history (9:32.21).

Also, Brannon Kidder (one-mile run; 4:04.48), Robby Creese (3,000-meter run; 8:06.53), Darrell Hill (shot put), and Brian Leap (triple jump) represented Penn State and finished collectively as the top Big Ten team at the championship.

Both Darrell Hill (64-8) and Brian Leap (51-4.50) made the trip to the indoor national championship for the first time in their career and recorded solid performances.

The Penn State women were represented by All-Americans 4x400-meter relay of Megan Osborne, Dynasty McGee, Tichina Rhodes and Kiah Seymour. The 4x4 finished eighth with a season-best time of 3:34.57.

Rachel Fatherly tallied a pair of top-16 finishes in her first trip to an NCAA Championship meet. Fatherly placed 11th in the shot put (52-10) and 16th in the weight throw (63-1.25).

Of the eleven competitors, nine earned first team All-America honors, an incredible accomplishment and well-earned honors.

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These are the things that make Penn State track and field so incredibly entertaining to watch. They never give up. And the very best part of it all is that it's not over yet.

Onto the outdoor season!

By Dynasty McGee, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend, I witnessed one of the most competitive NCAA Championships that I've been a part of. We arrived in Arkansas on Wednesday to give us ample time to get a feel for the track. The first couple of workouts at the Randal Tyson Track Center went great, and everyone seemed ready for the competition.

After Thursday's workout, everyone put on their best for the NCAA Banquet where Coach John Gondak and Darrell Hill were recognized amongst other coaches and student-athletes.

We were more than happy to cheer on Rachel Fatherly who kicked off the competition for us on Friday. Next, Kiah Seymour competed, running an amazing race. Brandon Kidder had a tough race in the prelims of the mile but managed to advance to the finals.

Last to compete on Friday was the men's distance medley relay and it was an exciting race to watch. Brannon Kidder put Alex Shisler in a great position and Za'Von Watkins held that position. Watching Robby Creese slowly but surely close the gap between him and three other athletes was amazing to watch, but if anyone could do it, we knew it would be him.

Saturday night was showtime for the women's 4x4. We were a little nervous but excited at the same time. The goal was to win our heat and make it on to the podium. Megan Osborne was the pop off and competed well with the other first legs. She handed the baton to me and I took off. My goal was to either put us in first or get us close to it. Tichina Rhodes ran her own race, which was extremely smart. Kiah received the baton in third place and the runner in first place had to be 50 meters ahead. Kiah passed the second place runner and coming around the last curve she made her move and blew past the runner in first place! We ran fast enough to earn eighth place, making us All-Americans.

This felt like the hardest national meet for a couple of us. Some of us were coming off of injuries and even qualifying for the meet seemed almost impossible. I will never forget this meet or the women that were by my side every step of the way. I'm excited for the transition into outdoor season and to get more training under my belt. Our first meet is in two weeks and I'm expecting great things.

  


By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend the Nittany Lions will be on the road once again. However, this time, they will be made up of fourteen student-athletes that will look to dominate the national stage in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The group of student-athletes, compared to the dozens that regularly travel on the weekends, have proved to be the cream of crop this year and have earned their positions at the 2015 Indoor NCAA Championships representing the Blue and White.

"Having a close group like that will help with cheering each other on and for having a Penn State presence down there," said Brian Leap

And while for most, the thought of competing on the national level could be nerve-wrecking or intimidating, this group is headed into 'just another meet' that provides another chance to showcase the diligence they've devoted all season long.  

"The hay is in the barn now and we're just going to tune up and get ready...take a few days to recover. No need to do anything special this week," said junior Brannon Kidder, who is slated to compete in the one-mile run and the distance medley relay.

Also representing the Nittany Lions on the track will be junior Kiah Seymour who is set to compete in the 400-meter dash. Seymour, who placed sixth in the event at the NCAA meet in 2014, represents the team's focused mindset headed into the meet. This year is a clean slate and it brings opportunity for improvement.

"I think I train the same for every meet. This isn't any different. I'm going to go out there and try my best," said Seymour. "Good competition brings out good performances."

On the field, Penn State is confident.

Leap had a powerful performance at the Big Ten Championships where he posted a personal record triple jump of 52-6.75.

 "[I'm just going to] build off of [Big Tens]. I know there are more things out there and hopefully I can look toward that school record mark," said Leap. "[I'll just] continue to do the same things I've been doing and use the atmosphere to give me the extra push."

Another consistent stand out is junior Rachel Fatherly who earned her Big Ten Championship silver medal with a toss of 66-6.50. Fatherly's growth this season has been entertaining, to say the least, and represents the determination and concentration practiced daily by the Nittany Lions.

"I think that ending the weight throw [at the Big Ten Championships] with my last throw being my best throw builds confidence and it shows that I can come through. I can be focused," said Fatherly. "My better throws come when I'm more relaxed and calm. Coach Ebel told me to think about everything that got me to NCAAs and just try and reiterate that."

Aside from focused, confident, and determined, the team is grateful for this opportunity.

"I'm really excited and [I feel] blessed to...be able to go compete and to compete for a national championship," said senior Darrell Hill, who is closing off his senior season with a first-time trip to an indoor championship.

The most important note of all, though, is that the team is really, really excited.

"I'm actually just really excited more than I am nervous," said Seymour.

"Absolutely. I'm definitely excited and not having school will be nice. We can fully focus on track," said Kidder. "I'm really excited for the relay. It's always really exciting running with those guys."

"I'm excited. I was just there a few weeks ago with all the SEC schools and it was similar. I got all the nerves out of the way and now I can just use the excitement and build off of Big Tens," said Leap.

"Definitely excited," said Fatherly.