Recently in Track & Field Category
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the spring of 1985,
Penn State track and field student-athletes Vince Watson, Steve Shisler, Chris
Mills, and Randy Moore ran the fastest 4x800-meter relay of their career
finishing in seven minutes, 11.17 seconds - a Penn Relays Carnival and Penn State
University record-breaking time.
In the spring of 2015, the relay record celebrated
its 30th anniversary and Steve Shisler, now coach at State College
High School, celebrated by watching his son, Alex, run on the winning
Championship of America Sprint Medley Relay.
"We knew [we ran] a good time [in the
4x800-meter relay] when we were in it and we all had the sense that it would
last for a while. It's a special achievement," said Shisler. "But the best part
about that weekend is that Alex was a part of a Championship of America sprint
relay. It was a great thing to see."
Junior Alex Shisler is a sprinter for Penn
State track and field and it was at his first Penn Relays in the 10th
grade, when he decided that he would uphold the Penn State tradition in his
family and eventually become a Nittany Lion.
"My parents loved going [to Penn State] but [they] wanted me to go
wherever I wanted to go," said Alex. "Since sophomore year of high school I
knew I was going to run collegiately and in my mind I had it made up that I was
going to go to Penn State. Both of my parents ran here and are on the school records
here and I wanted to carry on that legacy."
Alex is a sprinter while his parents were middle-distance runner but, nonetheless,
the pride of being a Penn Stater allows for a
strong family bond and a supportive, understanding, and very dedicated cheering
The Penn State track and field tradition is
also strong among three other current student-athletes and their families -
freshman Elyse Skerpon, junior Robert Cardina, and freshman Megan McCloskey.
Freshman Elyse Skerpon's
(Sprints/Hurdles/Relays) father, Donald Skerpon, was a pole vaulter at Penn
State during his college career.
After spending his first year at the
University of Rhode Island, Skerpon decided to set his sights a bit closer to
home. After a few phone conversations with then-head coach Harry Groves,
Skerpon found his way to Happy Valley.
He spent the rest of his undergraduate career
as a Nittany Lion and started a family tradition that carried down to his three
children - Luke (class of '12) was a member of the Blue Band, Taylor is a
senior on the baseball team, and Elyse is just beginning her career with the
"It's a great experience as parents. You have a lot of the same
anxiety but it's great to see them work hard and make things happen," he said.
"You build such great memories...and it's great to be able to come back [to State
"After my dad came here, we've had season football tickets and we've
been coming to football game since I was born, basically," said Elyse. "Coming
here all those years made me want to be here and continue what my family
Since his track and field days, Donald Skerpon says the program still
remains the flourishing team he was once a part of but thinks the commitment
has changed quite a bit.
"It's a lot harder now," he laughed. "We worked really hard and it was a
lot of time but it wasn't quite as intense [as it is now]."
Jennifer Williams-Cardina is among the top
ten performers all-time at the university in the women's high jump event and is
a former multi-events athlete.
During her time as part of the program, the
indoor track was flat, white, and located at the old ice hockey rink. Though
things have come a long way since, she remembers those days with joy saying she
wouldn't change a thing if she could experience it all over again.
She has since left the streets of Happy
Valley and her life as a student-athlete but has the opportunity to return as a
spectator to see her son, junior Robert Cardina (Multi-Events), continue the
"I can remember when Rob was
little he ran everywhere. He ran through the house. He would ask us to time him
running outside around the house," said Williams-Cardina. "Finally, when Rob
was in middle school, and went out for track, I had the opportunity to teach
him how to high jump. We went to the track at night and on weekends to
practice. I absolutely loved sharing this time with Rob."
Currently, Robert Cardina holds
the school record in the heptathlon and is second all-time in the decathlon.
"Some parents don't know the ins and outs of
the program and they don't know what it takes. [Having this in common with my
mom] is an advantage [for me]. She prepared me well," said Cardina. "It's
important to note that we both came here and left our imprint on the track and
field program on both the men's and women's side."
Megan McCloskey is in her first season with
the Nittany Lions as a high jumper.
She began jumping in the fourth grade and had
a very special coach to help her get through it, Mimi McCloskey, her mother and
former middle-distance runner at Penn State.
"My mom ran the 800[-meter run] and the
1600[-meter run] and I tried those when I was younger but it wasn't really for
me," said Megan. "I started jumping in the fourth grade and [my mom] learned it
at the same time I did. She was learning how to coach high jump while I was
learning how to do high jump."
While her mother coached her athletic career
up until high school and Megan has now graduated into the rigorous life of
Division I track and field, she says she still looks to her parents for
"My dad played football. So he loves talking
about that stuff. They always talk about the things he got to do and [the
things] she got to do because it was a completely different experience," said
"I understand how hard the transition from
high school to college competition can be for someone. When you are a freshman,
not only do you need to adjust to being on your own and away from familiar
surroundings, you must also adjust to new coaches, teammates, competition
schedules, and the fact that everybody at this level is very accomplished at
what they do," said Mimi.
Mimi McCloskey was a middle distance runner
in the early 80s however, similar to Donald Skerpon, she says the program has
changed since her workout days.
"Although the track remains much as it was 30
years ago, the training that Megan goes through is much different. The time commitment
was much less than it is today," she said.
And like the Shislers, the Cardinas, and the
Skerpons, the McCloskeys are just want their children to be happy.
"My hopes for Megan include her continued
growth both as a high jumper and a student. But more importantly, I hope that
she really enjoys her time at Penn State both on and off the track and
graduates with amazing memories and lifelong friends," said Mimi.
The Penn State track and field program is an
interesting and very special bond to have according to all the former and
current athletes but it's even more special when it's a bond between parent and
Every parent and every student-athlete
described this to be 'a very cool connection to have' describing their Penn
State related dinner conversations and laughing at the times their parents talk
about 'their glory days'.
But the current generation of Penn Staters
only hopes to one day live up to their parents' great achievements.
"I want to leave my Alex Shisler stamp on
Penn State track and field. I want to continue what my parents did." said
"I know [my mom is] happy that I'm here," said Cardina. " It's a bond
with my mother, a connection through track and field. She knows she was able to
get through it and she helps me get through it too. It keeps the legacy in the
family. I love my mother."
A legacy that thanks to experiences and
memories made many years ago still stands strong and doesn't look to end any
Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the
Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former
Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.
It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator
at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an
institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited
to become a member in 1949.
The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would
bridge a Midwestern league to the East.
The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb
academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.
Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much
convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and
the Big Ten could foster.
Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity
to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week.
"Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast,
I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the
The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten
institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in
December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under
the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been
competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest
of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.
When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who
along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn
State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the
annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of
NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.
"I remember talking in front of the group about
the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences
and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't
have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at
lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come
back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about
The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which
time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University
and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the
a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for
both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other
expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both
institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the
characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of
the Big Ten."
The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.
"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports
Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and
how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."
It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development
for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day
Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.
"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and
as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno,"
Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going
to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn
State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"
The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost
"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in
a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs,"
Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that,
we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten,
collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from
the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had
been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's
volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we
were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."
At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff
alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten
boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.
"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in
the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was. When you take a job, that is the job you
took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having
to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what
we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."
The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field
"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said
Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to
be a first rate facility."
The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's
transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's
a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and
it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.
"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared,"
said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort
of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that
makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to
Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom
and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92
Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally,
more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten
Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten
recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals
during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.
"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the
intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and
our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition
matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric
Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for
their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee
on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual
research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the
University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly
600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and
prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are
The women's volleyball program earned Penn
State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the
team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative
16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA
Championships since 1999.
Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success
in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity
sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference
titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.
The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of
competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach
Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0
record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships
to date (2005 and 2008).
The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's
history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles
in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer,
women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams
have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).
Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days
during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.
It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big
Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the
recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a
world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated
relationships with premier student-athletes.
"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities
and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly
helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the
conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these
Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we
go out recruiting student-athletes."
A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was
the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State
sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of
the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes, increased visibility across the country for
the department in a way that cannot be measured.
"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the
opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about
the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the
sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and
The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate
impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase
exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased
revenues for each institution.
"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for
the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted
in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.
In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football
en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.
the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the
conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success
aids in the growth of the collective conference.
"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There
are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."
"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best
practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business
Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and
ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't
secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do
things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help
one another out for the betterment of the conference.
"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for
other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going
on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."
Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who
have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list
includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and
has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the
key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus
trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography
of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.
A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship
took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for
Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's
been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.
"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for
us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been
excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have
always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no
disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first
team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was
the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some
very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And
obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the
Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big
Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks
By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership
between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to
mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote
concluded 25 years ago today.
The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten
titles in March of 2011.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Months of
physical preparation boil down to one weekend.
and 15 women from the Penn State track and field squads will push themselves to
the limit as they compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round this Thursday
is the competition track and field athletes prepare for all season with the
goal of a top-12 finish in their respective event to move on to the NCAA
of the competition is part of an advantage first round veterans have.
at a facility that you've been at before where you've had success before, you
know your way around, it really goes a long way with helping you relax, be
confident and comfortable," said head coach John Gondak.
will be just that as 14 of the 26 student-athletes have competed in the NCAA
first round in Jacksonville.
preparation builds off of confidence; a characteristic Gondak and his staff
work to build with each student-athlete throughout the season.
"At the end
of the day, they're the ones that have to do it. They have to believe they're ready,"
doubt, the Nittany Lions are ready.
men's team ranks 15th, contains three top-ranked athletes and seven
returners. Ranked No. 1 in the shot put, Darrell Hill looks for a standout performance
to move on for the second time in his career. Hill won the Big Ten title in the
shot put just two weeks ago.
in the region and Big Ten Champion in the javelin throw, Michael Shuey will
throw for a shot at competing in Oregon. Joining Shuey is redshirt freshman
top-ranked and looking to punch his second ticket to Oregon, Brannon Kidder
will run in the 800-meter. Joining Kidder is fellow Nittany Lion Robert Rhodes.
Creese is ready for a comeback performance after redshirting last spring.
Entering the competition, the senior ranks No. 1 in the 1,500-meter run.
women's side, 15 Nittany Lions are set to compete, including seven veterans representing
Penn State in 12 events.
recently breaking the Penn State school record with a silver medal throw (56-0)
in the shot put at the Big Ten Championships; Rachel Fatherly enters the
competition ranked No. 4. Joining Fatherly in the shot put competition are Alyssa
Robinson and Obeng Marfo.
competing in the field, Lexi Masterson will compete in the women's pole vault;
Danielle Gibson will take on the long jump and triple jump.
notching a silver medal at the Big Ten Championships, Tori Gerlach will represent
the Blue and White in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run. Elizabeth Chikotas will make her
first round debut in the 5,000-meter as a
Dynasty McGee and Tichina Rhodes will compete in the 400-meter dash and the
NCAA Preliminary will begin on Thursday, May 28 and conclude on Saturday, May
30. Follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC for live updates.
By Michael Shuey, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend we traveled to the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Michigan.
The weather for all three days was somewhat cloudy and around 70 degrees. Safe
to say that this year's weather at the Big Ten meet was far better than the
last time Michigan State hosted it when it snowed.
Day one of the championships started off with men's hammer throw where redshirt
freshman Kory Decesaris had a huge 11-foot PR with his throw of 198-5. This
mark moved him to No. 6 all-time at Penn State. Also with a PR in
the hammer, was Justin Berg with a mark of 185-5. The women's hammer throw had
their share of PRs for Penn State with Rachel Fatherly placing eighth with a
throw of 191-9. Wrapping up day one was the 10k with Glen Burkhardt and Matt
Fischer. Burkhardt finished fourth in his first outdoor Big Tens and Fischer placed
Day two started off with an exciting finish of the women's heptathlon by Tal
Ben-Artzi with a fifth place finish by scoring 4,937. On the track Tichina
Rhodes had a huge PR in the 400-meter dash by running 53.65, which moved her in
to finals along with Dynasty McGee. In the women's discus, Obeng Marfo threw a
15-foot PR, 170-1, which placed her sixth. Finishing day two was the women's
3000 meter steeplechase with Tori Gerlach capturing a second place finish with
a time of 10:13.33.
Day three started off with the first champion on the men's side with Darrel
Hill defending his title by throwing the shot put 66-3.25. On the women's side
Dannielle Gibson placed third in the women's triple jump with a jump of 42-3.5.
On the track, Sancho Barret posted a fifth-place finish in the 110-meter
hurdles with a time of 13.71, followed by the finish of the 400-meter dash
where Dynasty McGee was third with a time of 53.59. The second champion was
Brannon Kidder in the men's 800-meter run with a time of 1:47.56. In the field
action, Rachel Fatherly finished second in the shot put with a school record
mark of 56-3.25 and Obeng Marfo placed fourth with a personal-best throw of
52-6. In the men's javelin, I won the title with a throw of 236-8 and my teammate
Ryan Kerr finished third with a throw of 229-2. The 5,000-meter race finished
with Glen Burkhardt capturing his second fourth-place finish of the
Neither the men's or women's side came out of the championships with a
team win, but at the end of the day we had strong performances all over the
board and showed great Penn State pride throughout the three days of
By Tori Gerlach, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
PARK, Pa. - A small, yet prepared, group headed out to Palo Alto, California to
compete in the Payton Jordan Invitational on Saturday. We had men and women competing in the 800,
1500, and the steeplechase. This meet is known for its distance races and
amazing competition and it certainly lived up to my expectations this year.
the board we had a number of PRs, season bests, and even a top NCAA leading
mark. We competed against some of the best competition in the country and
gained more confidence and experience rolling into championship time. With the Big Ten Championships coming up in a couple of weeks, this is just the type of meet we needed to
Penn State gave us the opportunity to show the west coast all the hard work we
put in so far this season. I am excited to see what the rest of the season
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are 98 total student-athletes on the Penn
State track and field team - 48 women, 50 men. Of all of those, there are a total
of four women pole vaulters: Kasey Kemp, Erin Knabe, Lexi Masterson, and Hannah Mulhern.
As if that wasn't exceptional enough in a sport that takes everything
from upper body strength to gymnastics ability, all four women rank within the
top ten pole-vaulters in Penn State history.
"That's something that I value. I earned that," said Masterson, who
holds the school record at 13-3.5. "But to have three other teammates in the
top ten is something that's more for Penn State than it is for me. To have us,
kind of, rewrite pole vault for Penn State is so great."
"It feels really cool and it feels like we're making our mark. We're
letting people know: you might not know Penn State pole vault but you're going
to know [it], I promise you," said Knabe.
To add to the prowess, the women are fairly young. Masterson, Kemp, and
Knabe have sophomore athletic experience and Mulhern is finishing up her
"We're so young and we have so much more to learn and grow and keep
building," said Mulhern.
From a training standpoint, the women have all the support form the
university and their coaches, which, for them, makes being part of such a small
"We have to thank Coach Kelly. Practice, meets, he always has our back. Pole
vault is so frustrating, he can be so patient with us," said Masterson. "It's
nice to have our unique little thing. We have respect for the people that do
endless 200 [meter sprints] on the track and think 'Man, I couldn't do that'
but then, we're like, 'They probably can't pole vault'."
Pole vaulting by definition is a track and field event where athletes
must run with a long pole and use it to help them jump over a bar. It requires
more athleticism than most people would predict and can be more dangerous than
most other events.
"As a girl pole vaulter you have to have upper body strength and all of
us have gymnastics background that helps us be successful," said Masterson. "We
have two lifts per week, each about an hour. We'll have drill days and strength
days and plyometric days. There's a lot of time to put in."
"[During] preseason, we lift three days a week at 6:30 a.m. and then
come back later for practice 2:45-5 p.m. Then, on Wednesdays we have lifts,
practice, and then gymnastics from 5 to 6 p.m.," said Knabe.
Aside from being physically fit, pole vaulting takes a lot of mental
discipline and poise.
"Pole vaulting is all about confidence," said Knabe. "It's a lot of
technique. You can be really fast and really strong but if your technique is
wrong you're not going to go anywhere. That's why it's so mental because if
your technique is not perfect then something is going to go wrong and it can be
Fear is far from their vocabulary, though, and they are excited to have
each other to rely on. Being best friends only adds the excitement of being
"With this group, it's not about you, it's about all of us," said
"We know our goals and we're always helping each other get there. The
practice environment is really positive all the time. I think it's helpful that
we're friends outside of track," said Kemp.
"We have an awesome vibe during practice. There's such a respect for
this sport between athletes because you understand how hard this sport is so we
just try and lift each other up," said Knabe.
Penn State is about to earn a whole new reputation in pole vaulting and
the women thrilled to be part of the process confident that this is just
"Penn State is the best school ever. I wish I could put that into better
words but it's true. It's such a good school academically and it's respected
athletically," said Kemp.
"It's important for [people] to see how much we have improved," said
Masterson. "I was a 12-foot jumper two times in high school. I wasn't
consistent and within the first month on competition [at Penn State], I was
13-1. So, to see the improvement and how far it's going to go."
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Embarking on yet another stepping stone toward a
championship, Penn State track and field is headed to Philadelphia to compete in the Penn Relays Carnival.
Unlike any other meet, the Penn Relays is the oldest, largest track meet
in the country celebrating its 121st year this weekend and with over
15,000 athletes, of all levels, from around the country competing in over 120
events, the Nittany Lions have a big three days ahead.
"I don't think it's that you prepare any differently. I think it's that
you have to respect and understand what the history and the tradition of the
Penn Relays are. It's one of the oldest track meets in the country. Right now,
if you get a sunny day, from the attendance stand point it will be one of the
largest attended track meets in the country," said head coach John Gondak.
With its long-established tradition, the Penn Relays has bred more than
just another exciting meet weekend. The carnival-style display has sparked
careers, dreams, and motives.
"There have been so many Olympians and champions whether it's at the
high school, college, or professional level that have competed at the Franklin
Field. It's a very hallowed ground of our sport," said Gondak. "It's the track
meet I attended that got me into the sport back when I attended in the 10th
grade and it has been, in my opinion, what launched my career."
"Although the Penn Relays are
hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, at Penn State we still take pride in
having one of the largest track and field meets in the country being held in our
home state. [There is] pride that is involved with [being a part of] the blue
and white...Talking about the history we are involved in gives you a little bit
of added motivation and a different type of respect for the meet," said Hill,
"It's always really exciting to get into the Philly area and compete.
It's exciting to have my parents come out and support me. I know the facilities
and some of the officials...and it's the Penn Relays. It's always exciting to go
To add to the motivation, Penn State is entering this weekend as the
sole owner of the men's 4x800-meter relay record time of 7:11.17 for the 30th
"It's an incredible sense of pride for our alumni, those that ran in
that relay and the program in general. It's talked about at every alumni
gathering and event," said Gondak. "Records are out there in an attempt to be
broken but it has been 30 years and no one has broken this one. It's something
that I know is in the back of our minds for our team to go out there and try to
Returning shot put champion, Hill knows very well the excitement that
comes with big accomplishments but notes that the most important part is to
focus on the now.
"You have to stay focused on the task. It goes on for a few days but the
excitement about it helps you soak in the atmosphere and use [it] to your
advantage. You have to be focused on the goal," said Hill. "I understand that it's
a new year. I won last year, which was cool but it's a new feel and a lot of
good competition so it's going to take a good day to repeat a championship. I'm
prepared and that's the goal but I understand that it's going to take [a lot].
I can't underestimate anybody."
The most exciting weekend of the year begins Thursday, April 23 and
lasts through Saturday, April 25th.
By Alex Shisler, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Now that we are in the middle of the outdoor season, I
think we can all agree... It's great to compete in the south. When we first
arrived in Baton Rouge, the weather was not looking good for a track meet. The
forecast had called for thunderstorms and over an inch of rain so that's what
we were all preparing for. Luckily for us, Mother Nature had different plans.
The day started off
with a great javelin competition in the rain that Mike Shuey won with a huge
throw of 242 feet and 8 inches. After the rain had stopped in the morning, the
sun was shining for the rest of the day. We had some great performances
throughout the meet but the freshman Bryce Williams grabbed himself a personal- best in the long jump (23-3.25). Steve Waithe had a great showing in
the triple jump where he won the invitational section with a leap of 51-7.25.
After the meet, the
coaching staff treated us to a delicious seafood dinner. It was great to be
able to sit down with the team and discuss all the great performances we had
that day while enjoying food that you definitely cannot get in Central
With another great meet
in the books, it's time for us to focus on the task at hand for next weekend, Penn
By Lexi Masterson, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Penn State track & field was blessed with two sunny days
to compete at the Bucknell Classic this weekend, and the performances did not
Day one was
filled with some very inspiring performances across the board. One of the most
amazing performances came from one of our redshirt athletes. Malik Moffett
competed unattached on Saturday where he made his long jump debut. After only
having about two long jump practices, Malik flew 25 feet to win the event.
throws, Jon Yohman had a 15-foot PR to place second in the discus with a throw
of 171-05. Another personal best in the
throws came from Natalie Shiffler, with a javelin toss of 141 feet. Ryan Kerr
and Cole Proffitt threw well in the javelin as well with Ryan winning the even
at 212 ft. and Cole not too far behind at 200-05.
track, Robby Creese won the 1500 meter run with a
stunning 3:41.74. The women also took
the top two spots in the 1500 with Tori Gerlach and Elizabeth Chikotas crossing
the line in first and second, respectively.
started out strong in the field with Patrick Anderson clearing 15 feet 9 inches
in the pole vault for a college PR.
Women's hammer also stole first and second place with Annjulie Vester
and Rachel Fatherly, in addition to Alyssa Robinson who had a lifetime PR of
track, the men's 4x1 had a season-best time, and Shelly Black and Quenee Dale took
first and second in the 100-meter hurdles.
finished up with the women's pole vault. Although none of us had a personal
best, we thoroughly enjoyed having our whole team cheering for us at the end of
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writerbut throwing an approximately
eight-foot javelin still requires a high level of skill and strength.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2015 Penn State outdoor track and field
campaign in full swing, here's a look at two new events that come with the new
The Javelin Throw
The javelin throw event originates from the times of the Roman Empire when
javelins were used as offensive weapons and thrown at enemies. As a warrior in
ancient times, your main goal was precision, not distance, and success was
measured by how deeply and accurately the javelin reached the opposing target.
Sophomore Michael Shuey is one of Penn State's top javelin throwers and
holds the school-record, gold-medal winning 249-5 throw.
In modern times, the purpose of the event has changed significantly from
war-like to goal and distance oriented,
"It's a combination of being a sprinter, a jumper, and a thrower. We lift
as much as the shot putters and discus throwers and we run close to the same
amount the jumpers do. The body type for a javelin thrower is so unique
compared to all the other events," said Shuey. "The amount of technique that
goes into it...most people don't understand."
With change of times comes change of mindset so, why be a javelin thrower
in modern times?
"I'm the youngest of six so we've been playing games all my life and
throwing things was always my knack in any sport that we played so to find an
event that is just strictly throwing things was just kind of like my calling,"
And similar to ancient times, competitive nature is key along with research
and practice, practice, practice.
"I've played almost every sport in my life and it's made me more
competitive...more than anyone, I think, that has specialized in javelin their
whole life," he said. "I researched and I watched videos every night in high
school, I still do. I just watched what they did and their technique. I picked
out the key concepts they were doing and I tried to apply them everyday."
The 3K Steeplechase
The steeplechase event is arguably one of the hardest events in the outdoor
season. It originates from a similar horseracing event from as early as the
1800s in countries like Ireland and England and incorporates barriers, hurdles,
and water jumps.
Junior Tori Gerlach holds the second best all-time school record of 10:03.55 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase but it
has taken a vast amount of time, dedication, and practice to get to that point.
"It tests your athleticism because you're hurdling and jumping over water
and it tests, not just your endurance, but your technique," Gerlach said. "The
more you do it the better you are at it. Last year, it took like four [races]
for me to finally have a good one."
Unlike the javelin throw, the steeplechase doesn't come from a long history
of war or military-like conflict; however, it requires just as much skills and
"With the hurdles and the water jumps, the approach is really important.
Approaching it and trying to remember everything you were taught is hard and
important," said Gerlach. "Whether you're having a good steeplechase or a bad
race, it hurts the same. When you're going, the hardest part about the water
jump, and the hurdles, and the barriers you're jumping is the efficiency of how
you get over it."
The purest characteristic all great athletes have is their competitive
drive - a drive that both Gerlach and Shuey share.
"For me, [what made me better was] being competitive about it," said
Gerlach. "When I first started, I wasn't that good at it and I kept working at
it and working at it and I just wanted to be competitive in that event and not
only the flat races. For anyone that wants to try it, don't get discouraged.
It's something that you have to keep working at but it's fun!"
Gerlach, Shuey and the rest of Penn State track and field will continue its
outdoor pursuit this weekend when they head to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for the
two-day Bucknell Classic.