By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The men and women Penn State track and field teams are now more than ready than
ever to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, TX on
March 10th and 11th.
The men's team is
coming off a second-place finish at the Indoor Big Ten Championships while the
women captured the Big Ten title at the Spire Institute this past weekend.
These top finishes have
brought the teams momentum going into nationals. On the women's side, Penn State will be represented this
weekend in four individual events and the Distance Medley Relay by six athletes,
while the men will have five entries to the NCAA championships, including two
athletes in individual events and its No. 4 NCAA and school record 4x400-meter
"Obviously, it was a
phenomenal weekend for both the men's and women's program at the Big Ten
Championships," said head coach John Gondak. "Coming off of that, their
motivation and adrenaline and excitement about heading into nationals is
fantastic this week so far, so they are in a great spot. I'm looking forward to
heading to Texas to give it our best next week."
The meet at Big Tens
was filled with incredible performances on both the men's and women's side. Junior
Malik Moffett broke the school record in the 200-meter dash twice over the
weekend, once in the prelims on Friday and again in the finals on Saturday,
earning him the bronze in the event.
"I feel pretty good.
I've been chasing that record for a long, long time and it finally feels great
to break it actually twice," said Moffett. "With nationals I feel like, I
really don't get the opportunity to run against people that fast in the indoor
season. Since I'm going, I feel like I can run even faster with them in my heat,
so I'm looking very forward to it."
Senior Julie Kocjancic
experienced her final Indoor Big Tens placing sixth in the mile and capturing
the gold in the DMR. She will finish her indoor career being a part of the DMR
at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
"There's a lot that I
still want to accomplish, but it was definitely one of my favorite Big Tens. To
pull off the win the way that we did and to just feel that the whole team
competed and fought to get to where we were was a really good feeling," said
Kocjancic. "I'm very excited going into nationals. I think that we haven't
really raced our DMR against other fully stacked DMRs and haven't gotten to see
what our full potential is, so I'm excited to get that opportunity and see how
Harris defended his 800-meter title this year and contributed to the winning
4x4 team at the Indoor Big Ten Championships. He is using these wins as
momentum as he prepares for the upcoming national meet.
"I was just happy
because there were a few good guys there, so it means a lot to come back and
defend and score the points for the team. I was really happy with that," said
Harris. "This week we're just going hard again, like a normal week. Next week
will probably be really light going into travel. We'll have an easy workout on
Tuesday and an easy, steady run on Monday. Everything will be toned back a
little bit, so we'll feel fresh when we get to Texas. I'm excited, mostly for
the 4x4 really because I feel like no one really expected us to get there.
We're going to be in the fast heat, so I'm really excited for that."
Harris knows that he's
prepared for NCAAs, he says his coaches have trained them to peak during the
most important times of the season.
"I trust Gondak and Tucker's
training. They both know how to peak people at the right time, so like the same
thing we are doing next week. We had an easier week the week before Big Tens,
so you really feel fresh just taking a few days of easy running really helps
your legs feel nice. I trust Gondak, he's done it multiple times in the past,
he knows what he's doing."
Contributing to the
second-place men's finish, Harris knows that the team is on the right track to
a potential Big Ten title during the outdoor season.
"It feels really good
because the program is moving in the right direction. We're really excited for
outdoor since we're hosting it. Gondak is always saying you get like an extra
twenty points just for hosting it, and we're getting a bunch of good people back
that couldn't compete for indoor," said Harris.
"On the men's side,
David Lucas is going to be in discus, which we didn't have in indoor, and we
have Michael Shuey in the javelin, who has been a Big Ten champ. We have a lot
of good returners. Michael Siagowski who is only a freshman, but he was injured
in indoor, he can come back and make an impact right away. We're just really
trying to focus on getting that Big Ten title, and now after that second-place
title it really seems within our reach."
Harris, Moffett and
Kocjancic will be joined at nationals by team members: Dan Chisena, Xavier
Smith, Samuel Reiser, Tessa Barrett, Danae Rivers, Dannielle Gibson, Tichina
Rhodes, and Rachel Banks.
The NCAA Indoor
Championships will take place in College Station, TX on March 10th