Recently in Track & Field Category

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Months of physical preparation boil down to one weekend.

Eleven men 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 through Saturday. 

This 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 Championships.

Familiarity of the competition is part of an advantage first round veterans have.

"If you're 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.

Penn State will be just that as 14 of the 26 student-athletes have competed in the NCAA first round in Jacksonville.

Mental 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," said Gondak. 

Without a doubt, the Nittany Lions are ready.  

The 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. 

Ranked fifth 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 Ryan Kerr.

Also 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. 

Junior Robby 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.

On the women's side, 15 Nittany Lions are set to compete, including seven veterans representing Penn State in 12 events.

Most 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.

Also 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.

After 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 freshman. 

Fellow runners Dynasty McGee and Tichina Rhodes will compete in the 400-meter dash and the 4x400-m.

The 2015 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 Writer
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 sixth.

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 championships.

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 competition.

11056508.jpegBy Tori Gerlach, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY 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. 

All across 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 prepare with. 

Once again, 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 brings!

WE ARE...

 

 

11056054.jpeg
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 freshman year.

"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 group better.

"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 dangerous."

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 talented.

"With this group, it's not about you, it's about all of us," said Masterson.

"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 beginning.

"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." 

 

10040258.jpeg

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.

11017043.jpeg

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!

10995746.jpeg
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. 

9052258.jpeg

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.