Recently in Track & Field Category

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This year's Penn State track and field throwers are coming off summer training stronger and more experience than before. This week caught up with the student-athletes and Coach Patrick Ebel for part two of the 2015 season previews.

Senior Darrell Hill returns this season as a captain for the Nittany Lions after spending the summer in California with the USA track and field team at the USATF Outdoor Championships where he posted a 10th-place finish in the shot put with his mark of 64 feet, 1.25 inches.  

"Making it to [the USA Championships] was a huge goal of mine and just to be able to be there in that wonderful facility in Sacramento and to be able to compete with...some of the best people in the world.. and finish high and make it to the finals just showed me that my time is coming and that with hard work I can make it back next year and be even better," said Hill.

Junior Michael Shuey threw a school record-breaking, gold medal-winning 249-5 javelin toss at the U-23 Championships in Kamloops, Canada and he spent time in California along with Hill and the USA National Team.

"I got to go to Canada and had an amazing experience at the Olympic Training Center, I got to hang out with Darrell Hill, and I finally hit 249 and it was awesome," said Shuey. "Everyone that was on the team was the top [competitor] in his or her event. [It was] an amazing experience."

Junior Rachel Fatherly spent the summer training and conditioning with her teammates. They're returning this year well built and determined to dominate the competition.

"We are all physically stronger than we were the weight room we are putting up higher numbers. The summer had a lot to do with it. We did strength and conditioning and we're all in a good mindset. We want to reach really high goals this year," said Fatherly.

The team's first meet, a Blue vs. White intrasquad competition, is set for Sat., Dec. 13th.

For more information on Penn State track and field visit or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.  

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State track and field preseason training is officially underway. This week caught up with the sprinters, hurdlers, and relay runners to get an inside look on this year's athletes, training plans, and goals. 

Senior Dynasty McGee (Flint, Mich.) is coming off a big year with the team after playing a key role in the women's 4x400-meter relay team that finished in first place at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships. McGee made a big impact in the outdoor season as well by winning eight events, qualifying for the NCAA Championships, and being named First Team All-American.

"Last year was a big year for me and I just want to top that. I want to get better and better and I know that if I stay focused and dedicated, I'll do that," said McGee.

Junior Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) had an eventful summer as a part of the United States National Team in the 400-meter hurdles in Kamloops, Canada.

"When I went to was the best track experience of my life. I got to run in the USA [under] 23 team and I made life-long friends," said Seymour. "After training with [coach] Bungard he really told me that I had nothing to lose so I went for it."

On the men's side, the team is looking young, focused and powerful.

"I'm just looking to go out, compete and do my best out there," said freshman Xavier Smith (Douglasville, Pa.).

The team is led by two upperclassmen, senior Sancho Barrett (Amityville, N.Y.) and junior Alex Shisler (State College, Pa.), who both qualified for an NCAA Championship event in 2013.

Coach Randy Bungard is in his third year with the program and he is thrilled to begin this season noting this year's goals are almost identical to those in the past - winning. 

"Our goals this year are kind of the same they've always been. As a team, we want to win the Big Ten Championship and go to the NCAA Championships and be a presence there," said Bungard.

While the team's first official event isn't until December 13th when they host an intrasquad Blue vs. White meet, the athletes are already hard at work and preparing for the competition. 

For more information on Penn State Track and Field visit www. or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.  


By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics and the Red Cross will team up once again to demonstrate their 'One Team' bond in a blood drive that will honor Penn State track and field jumps and multi-events coach Fritz Spence.

Spence has been a part of the Penn State family for eight years and carries a long record of success including having coached 15 All-American athletes, various NCAA qualifying athletes, and many, many winners.

However, Spence doesn't just coach victors - he is a part of them.

In February of 2008, Spence was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer that begins in the bone marrow and is known to spread very quickly.

After what seemed like endless treatments, long nights in the hospital, and a tough bone marrow transplant, Spence prevailed and now stands as a strong and proud cancer survivor.

The blood drive, which is sponsored by Penn State Track and Field, is run by volunteers and student-athletes who dedicate their time to make sure the event runs smoothly and successfully.

Senior Michael McClelland (Washington, Pa.) runs the event on the student-athlete side making sure there are volunteers available to work the event. He is also in charge of letting all Penn State Athletics teams know about the blood drive and he is a primary spokesperson for the drive informing all volunteers and donors of the importance of the event.

"Michael has done a really good job of organizing the event and getting the student-athletes to volunteer and come out, he is one of my key committee members. He's really very supportive," said Spence.

"I'd say people all across campus are motivated to make this event a success. I'm invested [in the event] and I think [everyone] can tell," said McClelland. "Coach Spence is not a super emotional guy but I can tell he's appreciative. I can tell this means a lot to him and he's really thankful for the work I'm doing and the entire team is doing to make sure this is successful."

McClelland says the goal for the blood drive is to get 50 volunteers to donate 35-36 units, which has proven to not be a problem. Last year, they had such a big turn out that they had to reject donors.

Spence is overwhelmed by the success of the event, which he hopes becomes a long-lasting tradition for the University.

The blood drive is also a very important part of Spence's life. He points out that this is his way of giving back to the community that was so supportive of him when he was in need and he hopes that every donor and volunteer understands the significance of events like these.

"It's important to give and to give back because you never know when it will be your turn or your family's turn to get blood," he said. "The statistics are one in seven [people] that will need blood in their lifetime. [You] will know someone, sometime in your lifetime that will need blood."

The blood drive will take place in Rooms E and F of the Bryce Jordan Center on Mon., Oct. 27th from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
There will be a double red donation opportunity.

To schedule an appointment visit and click on the blood drive tab or go to and use the sponsor code: psu.


By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four coaches from four distinct parts of the world made their way to Happy Valley this week to work with the Penn State track and field coaching staff and student-athletes as part of the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program (ICECP).

ICECP, which begins at the University of Delaware and works through the Unites States Olympic Committee, is a five-week intensive coaches' education program that gives candidates from around the world an opportunity to attend lectures and presentations in the United States for the benefit of their education and career.

Head coach John Gondak and company hosted Letitia Vriesde (Suriname), Andris Eikens (Latvia), Faris Abdulla (Maldives), and Nigatli Worku (Ethiopia) for the entire week sharing with them the track and field facilities, workout routines, coaching strategies, and introducing them to Penn State student-athletes.

Unlike any of their past trainings, the coaches were able to do hands-on work, which they eagerly described as their favorite experience thus far.

 "What I see at Penn State I don't think I will be able to see ever again," said Abdulla, a kids' coordinator for an athletics association. "It is so complex and everything I see here is so wonderful and I hope one day that we will get to this level. Our experience here is different because we finally got hands on experience. This is more practical and technical."

At their future stops, the coaches will be attending lectures and presentations so they were opportunistic in their time here.

"Here we have shared with coaches their practical knowledge and that's very different from attending lectures and doing projects," said Worku, a track and field coach at the national and junior levels. "I have attended a lot of training courses and this is by far the best one."

In their respective home countries, all of the coaches explained the lack of organization between academics and athletics commending the way Penn State intertwines the two. They explained that the structured system the University implements is by far the best method to success they have seen.

"The first thing I noticed at Penn State is that they have a very good system for athletes," said Abdulla.  Their scholarships and the coaching system...they have a systematic way of developing athletes. It is so hard to convince people and parents [back home] that sport is a way of life."

The coaches are pleased to see that Penn State develops athletes to represent themselves and also, their respective schools making athletics and academics a source of pride, which is very different from their normality.

"You are not competing for your university and it's not part of a system," said Vriesde, a coach at the Atlantic Club of the Future. "You go to school and, then, if you like to run, you go and join a club."

They were also blown away by the facilities available to the program. It became apparent to them why the student-athletes are so ambitious and motivated.

"The facilities available for the athletes make me think that there is no reason not to make it to the world class [level]. It's very impressive because back home we basically don't have any facilities, said Vriesde. "We run on grass. It's good to see everything that is done for sport achievement."

"I'm very pleased to see how highly motivated all the athletes are to compete here," said Eikens, a decathlon coach for his country's national team. "There are very, very good facilities and options."

The Nittany Lions impressed them and even though they say it will be decades before they see any change in their countries, they hope to one day work with athletes, parents, and schools as one to shed light on the importance of unity between academics and athletics.

The coaches have three more weeks left in the program and will travel to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado upon their departure from State College.


Gondak, Nittany Lions Look Forward to New Era

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10372381.jpegBy Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is many things. It is a research institution and an athletic empire. It is history, tradition and culture.

For most people that come across this campus, though, of any age, any background, or any position, Penn State is one simple thing - a dream come true.

Dreams, like many things in life, come true through hard work, dedication, and a vast amount of time.

After eight years with the University and two long months as an interim, John Gondak has been officially named the Penn State cross country and track and field programs' head coach and he could not be more thrilled.

"Words can't describe what this means to me," said Gondak. "I'm thrilled and honored to continue to work with the student-athletes here. To be the head coach here is the pinnacle of my career to this point and I'm looking to continue that and achieve greater heights here with the program."

Gondak comes with a long history of experience and a great deal of time on the track.

He was a walk-on runner onto the Syracuse University cross country team where he earned a scholarship and the accolade of team captain. After graduating as valedictorian of the civil engineering program, he made his way through over a decade of coaching and recruiting experience at Georgia Tech, Toledo, and Kentucky before ending up in Happy Valley.

During his time with the NIttany Lions, Gondak has been remarkable.

During his eight years, he has been named United States Track and Field/Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Assistant Coach of the Year five times, along with assisting to lead multiple Big Ten, NCAA, and All-Regional championship appearances.

It's impossible to deny Gondak's passion, which flows right through him when he speaks about the University and its athletic program.

"Every coach has that one university in mind that they would really love to work for and for me Penn State has always been that," said Gondak. "Penn State is the university I grew up with. I've been coming to athletic events here ever since I can remember. Both my parents went to school here. They've been saying great things about Penn State their whole lives."

His demeanor is confident and approachable, and he stands proudly and poised.

"I truly believe we have the best student-athletes in the world here at Penn State. They're not only highly focused to achieve success athletically but their academics [are] a huge piece to them," he said. "Going forward to watch the athletes come through the program and move on to the real world is exciting to see."

Fortunately for Gondak, the student-athletes seem to feel the same way.

"I can't think of anyone better for the position considering how much he cares about the guys and the program," said senior Glen Burkhardt. "He does a very good job on everyone's individual needs. He cares a lot and I think everyone really likes him. That alone is big incentive to work hard."

Most days, Gondak can be found on the track or out on the running course. The days when he is in his office sitting at his dark burgundy desk, he is planning practice workouts and reflecting on previous races.

The future brings big changes for Gondak and his professional career but, as for the program, he simply hopes to continue the excellence that is already established.

"We have a great platform for success that was built not only by Coach [Beth Alford] Sullivan but also, by Coach [Harry] Groves and the coaches before them. We want to continue to build on that but we've got this thing going in the right direction right now with two of what, I think, could be the best teams Penn State has ever had," Gondak said.

Next weekend, Gondak will travel with the cross country team, for the first time as their head coach, to South Bend, Indiana, for their first NCAA qualifying meet at Notre Dame. The team has already been thinking about it, preparing, and working towards their goals every day.

As they continue to prepare for the competition, perhaps the program can rest peacefully, indeed, they have chosen the most dedicated man for the job.

Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."

"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."

Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

From My View - Big Tens

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Competing in my last Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships was definitely an experience that I will always remember. As a team we've been through a lot this year. As a result of everything that we've had to go through, we've become a stronger and closer group. As a unit we finished sixth overall, but we gave everything we had and that's all you can ask for at the end of the day. We had some individual champions with Darrell Hill in the shot put, Steve Waithe in the triple jump, and Michael Shuey in the javelin.

Watching all three of those guys become champions was a very special moment because they all have different stories of where they started out from to where they are now. Darrell started his career at Houston and transferred to Penn State last year. Steve started out at Shippensburg and transferred to Penn State this year. Michael started out as a multi last year but decided to dedicate all of his time and effort to the javelin throw this year. Watching these three guys put together successful performance makes me excited to keep tabs on their futures here at Penn State.

Another great moment that happened during the championships was that the women's team captured another outdoor title. I don't know what's in the water on the women's team, but they always seem to get it done when championship season comes along. To win Big Ten outdoors last year, indoor this year, and outdoor this year is an incredible feat. My hat goes off to them because they know how to get it done when it matters. The men's team has the necessary pieces to capture its first team title some time soon its just the matter of putting them together and everyone being one the same page at the right time. The season is not over yet. We will be back in action in two weeks in Jacksonville, Florida for first round competition.  

From My View - Maryland Twilight

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, Student Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend, the team headed down to Maryland for the first time in our program's history. We usually have a week off before our home meet every year, but this year the calendar was a bit weird. The Maryland Twilight meet was a great meet overall for our program because a lot off people performed very well. A bunch of people stepped up, but a few that stood out to me were Dynasty McGee, Kiah Seymour, and Darrell Hill. |

Dynasty ran a personal best time of 53.25 in the women's 400-meter dash. That was huge for her because she's been waiting patiently to drop her time. Another great performance that stood out to me was Kiah Seymour in the women's 400-meter hurdles. Kiah didn't have her best race the week before at Penn Relays and seeing her bounce back by running a national-leading time of 55.88 was huge.

The last performance that really left a great impression about the future of this team was in Darrell Hill. Last week, he won Penn Relays with a toss of 63 feet so you would expect most people to come into a meet like Maryland just focused on putting a mark down and cruising to a win. Darrell was able to throw a personal best at Maryland with a toss of 64 feet! Darrell has really been finding his groove lately, which really excites me for his future.

Personally, this meet wasn't the best for me. Honestly, this outdoor hasn't been my best season. There are some things that I need to improve on and adjust for things to go the way that they should. I fully believe that when Big Tens come around in two weeks that I'll be ready to have the performance that I need to help my team chase down our first Big Ten title. In the meantime, I have to remain to be patient and focused on getting better every day.  

From My View - Penn Relays

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, Student Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend, I was able to participate in one of the greatest and oldest track meets in the world that is known as the Penn Relay Carnival. The meet started on Thursday and lasted all the way until Saturday but I didn't run until Friday and Saturday. Traveling to Philadelphia for a track meet is always a special moment for me since I'm from Cheltenham High School, which is a small suburb right outside of Philadelphia.

It's always special because of all of the love and admiration that Penn State receives when we attend Penn Relays. From our performances in the field events and on the track we also receive positive praise and attention. Even though we are not the hometown team, many people look out for our performances around the country and expect nothing but the best from us.

I'll never forget Penn Relays this year because of all of the special moments that my teammates helped to create. From Darrell Hill winning shot put to actually being on the in field and watching Steve Waithe jump 53 feet to win triple jump. Another special moment that I thought was pretty cool was that I happened to be sitting next to a Penn State alum as I was watching our men's sprint medley relay win, and I didn't even know it until we began to talk. It's great to know that alums still follow the program and enjoy seeing your success on and off the track.

Race day was Friday and Saturday, and I got the opportunity to run the 4x400 meter relay. Friday's prelim heat didn't go as we expected it but we ran and made the IC4A final heat that took place on Saturday. On Saturday, we ran our season's best time of the year of 3:07.94 for our second consecutive IC4A title.

Penn Relays was a great meet because our team performed well as a unit. I'm looking forward to our upcoming meet in Maryland this weekend because we can punch a few more tickets to first rounds, which will be held in Florida. The next few weeks will fly by with graduation and my final home meet approaching rapidly. I plan on enjoying everyone moment that comes my way because many people have told me that my college years will be some of my best memories.

Women's 4x400m Relay Looks to Become Dream Team

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By Astrid Diaz, 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.