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SAAB Hosts Third Annual Lip Sync Battle

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As is tradition, Penn State's Student-Athlete Advisory Board hosted its third annual SAAB Lip Sync Battle to benefit THON at the HUB earlier this week.

A total of nine Nittany Lion teams put on a show in the Freeman Auditorium to benefit Penn State's annual 46-hour dance marathon, which kicks off February 16 in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Following a full slate of performances, a panel of esteemed guest judges featuring Penn State sports medicine's Dr. Roberta Millard, Mike Herr or better known around campus as, "Mike the Mailman" and Penn State cheerleader Francis Alvare made their selections.

Penn State's men's swimming team took home the golden microphone this year with their rendition of Flo Rida's "Low." Men's volleyball and women's volleyball finished second and third, respectively.

"We've been working on this since October," said SAAB THON chair Tess Kearns (track and field/cross country). "Teams started signing up right before winter break so that was a lot of fun seeing who was coming together and the acts they were doing."

True Freshman Takes First

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - True freshman Terrance Laird captured the 60-meter dash title at the Nittany Lion Challenge over the weekend, his first collegiate track meet ever.

 

Laird started off the indoor season strong with a time of 6.80, claiming first place in his first time ever in the Nittany Lion Blue and White. Laird is used to being on top, though. He currently has a meet record in the PIAA Track & Field Championships, where he ran a time of 21.02 in the 200-meter dash last year during the outdoor season.

 

The funny thing is, Laird started his track career by being cut from the high school baseball team. Quickly deciding that he should run track, finding out it was definitely the right choice of sport for him.

 

"I didn't want to a job, so in high school I just chose to play a sport. I tried out for the baseball team, but got cut," Laird said. "So, then I just started running track."

 

Laird began his track career as a sprinter just by his natural thought of him believing that he was quick. Little did he know, he'd end up being the fastest runner in the state of Pennsylvania just a few years later.

 

"I thought I was pretty fast, so sprinting was the area and group I was interested in," Laird said. "It really worked out."

 

Boy, did it work out. Laird was no doubt a great runner in high school, but running in college is a completely different dynamic. Laird is currently a Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) major at Penn State. He knew that academics was also a big part of choosing where he wanted to run. Penn State was the easy choice for him when he was deciding where to compete at the next level.

 

"Penn State is close to home," Laird said.  "Coaching wise, it really felt like a team here, like a real team. There isn't any separation between anyone. It was somewhere I wanted to be and academically, it's all here. So, it was really a package deal."

 

Although being at Penn State has proved to be a good choice for Laird, he still has a long way to go for this season and the rest of his time here.

 

"From here, I am just going to keep listening to coach and what he tells me to do and what I have to work on. Just keep putting forth all my effort at practice and staying as healthy as possible," he said. "I want to keep getting better. I want to show up when it's time to show up like when we are at big meets or conferences, just show up and compete to the best of my ability. As long as I keep putting in effort at practices, the better I am going to be throughout the season, which will hopefully transfer to other meets and my Big Ten performance."

 

Assistant sprints, hurdles, and relays coach, Erin Tucker, believed that Laird had a great performance for his first collegiate meet. Although great races are good to have, it doesn't mean the work stops here. Tucker knows there are things Laird needs to work on in order to continuing progressing throughout the season.

 

"I want him to just stay the course, progress, and getting better. It's a process, obviously. He's a very eager guy and we have some things we need to fix with his start and some things we need to fix with his running mechanics in general," Tucker said. "As long as we continue to stay the course, and keep working on the little things, I think we will have some better performances down the road."

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions opened up their indoor season this Saturday as they hosted the Nittany Lion Challenge at their very own Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. This season opener came with both personal records and school records, proving that the team's training this winter has paid off.

 

Senior Greta Lindsley ran a 4-second personal record in the mile today, showing that her hard work over the winter break was something to be proud of.

 

"I ended the cross country season I think in the best shape I've been in since I've been at Penn State, so I made sure to have a strong, quick recovery and then get back on the track and working hard," Lindsley said. "The crucial part was training over winter break. It's hard to train alone and in the cold, but I always made it my priority over break, so I think that helped a lot."

 

Although coming out the first meet of the season and running a personal best is an accomplishment, Lindsley knows that her training does not end here.

 

"Coming in and PRing in the first me was definitely exciting for me, showing them my hard work has been paying off. Starting off with a PR, I think means that I don't think I'm in peak shape yet, so I think I have a couple more seconds to knock off," Lindsley said. "The goal is just to keep getting stronger and to keep doing the little things, like sleeping, eating, stretching and being committed to being the faster runner I can be."

 

Along with Lindsley, senior Rachael DeCecco also ran her personal best today. Running a 56.48 in the 400-meter dash, DeCecco beat her best time of 57.28. Even though the 400 isn't her main event, she knows this PR will only confirm that her 600-meter will also improve.

 

"It's a good start to the season and it'll just get the momentum going for the rest of the season," DeCecco said. "It's kind of cool because the 400 isn't my event, and I PR'ed in it so it'll now translate to my main event the 600. So, hopefully I'll get a PR out of that soon."

 

DeCecco is also excited to see how this PR will help improve her role as a leg in the 4x4-meter relay. Her split being lower will keep the Nittany Lions on track for a great showing in the Big Ten come championship season.

 

"PRing in the 400 will hopefully also translate to the 4x4 relay with running a faster split. If I can maintain a leg on the 4x4, and if all of us can split 55's, it'll add up to a total time of 3:40," DeCecco said. "Coach Tucker said to us that those are all really good splits to have to get us in a good spot in the Big Ten, so hopefully that'll translate to a lot of big points at the Big Ten meet in the future."

 

This first meet not only included some personal bests, it also had two school recording-breaking performances on the men's side. Senior jumper Bryce Williams and junior thrower David Lucas both captured a school record title on this indoor season opener.

 

"Breaking a school record feels great. I have really been working hard for it. I've just been thinking about it and training for it pretty much since the end of the last track season," Williams said. "It feels good, but I'm not going to be satisfied from here, it's like a stepping stone to keep working and improve to help my team."

 

"I'm ecstatic about it. I wasn't really sure what was going to happen coming into today," Lucas added. "We haven't throw a regular weight yet in practice, we've thrown 35 pounds but on a longer chain, so it goes further. So, I really didn't have too many expectations coming into this. I just went out and on my first throw, went out and broken the record. I'm very excited about it, really just starting and make my mark in indoors."

 

These performances only act as a starting point, though. These men are prepared to continue their hard training in order to have an even better performance come late February in the Big Ten Championship meet.

 

"It's definitely a confidence booster. It's something to be proud of, but it's still early in the season. Just because I jumped this doesn't mean I'll be jumping that at the end of the season, I still have to continue to work hard in practice from here," Williams said.

 

"I was talking to some guys afterwards and a really cool piece of advice I was given was that I'm not going to try to get too caught up in trying to throw over 70 feet every meet from here on out. I want to try to focus on training, trusting my training. Some meets I'm going to have to train through to try to build and culminate through Big Tens," Lucas said. "I think it's an awesome start and I'm really excited to be over 70 feet moving forward, we are going to keep focused, keep practicing and step up and preform at Big Tens." 

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's officially indoor track season for the Nittany Lions as they head into their first meet of the season this weekend. Although it's only the beginning, the women's track and field team is looking to accomplish big things this season.

 

The women's team is reigning Indoor Big Ten Champions, as they won the conference last season at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The women are looking for nothing less than a repeat of that this year.

 

"This season I think the ultimate goal for our team is to go defend our Indoor Big Ten Championship. I think that we have a really good chance to do that this year with the people that are returning from last year and also our incoming freshman class," senior pole vaulter Hannah Mulhern said.

 

Although winning the indoor championship meet last year was great, the women say that winning the Indoor Big Ten again would be even sweeter if they did so alongside the men's team.

 

"It would be even more special if we did it on the same day as the boys because it was really cool that they won outdoors (Big Tens) and we won indoors (Big Tens). It'd be better if we all did it on the same day, I think that would be a major team goal," senior high jumper Megan McCloskey said.

 

Winning the Indoor Big Ten Championship is the ultimate goal for the women's team this year, but so is maintaining a great team atmosphere as the seniors prepare for their last indoor season.

 

"As a team, we're going to try to obviously go after the Big Ten Championship, we'd love to do that indoors and outdoors and at the same time as the boys would be awesome. I think just creating a really good team atmosphere this season. We have a lot of great talent and it would just be great to bring us all together and have really great team unity," senior sprinter Rachael DeCecco.

 

This indoor season, the women are traveling more than they are used to, and earlier on than usual. They travel to Clemson next weekend for their second meet of the season as the compete at the Clemson Invitational. The women say traveling this early will only benefit them more going into championship season in late February.

 

"I definitely think it's going to benefit us. I think it's exciting to get on the road early in the season. The benefits of that is really understanding what it feels like to travel and to not be at our home facility. We are pretty lucky to have a lot of meets at our home track, so it's good to get used to being at other tracks," McCloskey said. "The most important part is to get out of our comfort zones, so when Big Tens rolls around we will already know what it's like to be at away meets."

 

"I think that traveling a little bit more is really going to help us out. It really helps for us to get experience on the road early," Mulhern added. "I know in the past we haven't traveled as much, and our coaches think that may have affected us at the Big Ten Championship, so they're trying to get us out and traveling a little to get exposed to different facilities and competing against different people."

 

The Nittany Lions will also travel to the Spire Institute, where Big Tens are held, earlier in the season to get a feel of the environment there.

 

"Going to Spire for a meet will be great because that's where Big Tens is held, so we get a feel for the track meet atmosphere and to prepare a couple weeks before Big Tens," DeCecco said.

 

Even though clinching the Big Ten title is the main intention of the women this season, for the seniors, so is making it memorable.

 

"With it being my last season, you never know what the season is going to hold for you. I definitely just want to make this last season one to remember with my teammates," Mulhern said.

Champions Visit State Capitol

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the state capitol today for an afternoon of recognition, celebrating Nittany Lion conference champion student-athletes and head coaches following a record-setting 2016-17 season both in competition and in the classroom.

Joined by select head coaches and staff members as well as student-athletes, the group toured through the Pennsylvania House and Senate, stopping in for lunch with Sen. Jake Corman in his office. Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate before remarks from Corman, welcoming the group to the state's capitol following a few early proceedings.

Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania House, which holds all 203 members, including Pennsylvania's Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, Rep. Rich Irvin and Rep. Scott Conklin, who read a resolution to again welcome and congratulate the Nittany Lions on an all-around successful season, one that drew a standing ovation from the members on the floor. 

"I want to congratulate the teams for not only what they do on the field but what they do in the community, the outreach they give, the coaches who oversee them," Conklin said. 

Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour only echoed the all-around success in her remarks in the main rotunda later in the afternoon, noting that the individuals surrounding her representing a combined 2016-17 total of nine conference titles, among a few other crowns, are only one part of the story.

Penn State was recently slated fourth in the first spring update of the Learfield Directors' Cup standings following a year that saw seven Nittany Lion squads earn Big Ten Championships or tournament titles in seven sports, the most of any league institution and the third-highest total in school history.

As head coach Cael Sanderson brought instantaneous cheers from the floor of the Pennsylvania house upon his introduction, the room was reminded of Nittany Lion wrestling team's stunning second consecutive NCAA Wrestling Championship, marking its sixth in the last seven years, with five individuals earning NCAA titles along the way.

As Barbour pointed out though, the impact of the Blue and White extends much further than excellence in competition.

Nearly a month ago, a school record 114 Penn State student-athletes graduated, bringing the 2016-17 total to 142, with more students on track to cross the stage in August. Penn State also revealed its 89 percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate this year, which stands just one point below its all-time program mark. 

"Penn State student-athletes, not unlike their student colleagues and their servant hearts, have dedicated themselves to service," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes served over 6,200 hours of community engagement this last year. This comprehensive excellence is embraced by our Penn State and Pennsylvania community. It's truly Penn State's point of difference. It has historically motivated a state and a community, connected passionately to each and every one of our programs and each and every one of our student-athletes who wear the Blue and White."

Representative of just a small piece of a variety of community engagement close to Penn State student-athletes is THON, a beloved annual event that encompasses the entire university and Happy Valley community.

Led by the efforts of the Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board, SAAB raised $59,679.49 for THON in 2017, which ranked third among the 400-plus general organizations represented. Surging past a fundraising goal of $50,000, the 2017 figure is SAAB's second-largest total in the history of the organization, adding to a career total of $680,000, all for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, with four Penn State student-athletes joining the 703 dancers on the floor this year.

Among those dancers this year was women's soccer's Megan Schafer, a Big Ten Champion from Langhorne, who joined the group today for her second trip to state capitol, but first as a Nittany Lion. 

"A couple of years ago I got recognized for winning a state championship, so I think it's pretty cool coming back at the collegiate level to get recognized for our hard work all season," Schafer said. "I think it's really cool everything that people put together just to recognize us today."

Prior to Penn State, Schafer scored the overtime game-winner to lead Neshaminy high school (also the alma mater of Penn State head football coach James Franklin) to a Pennsylvania state title.

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The entire group of Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes were treated to a personal meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf, who stopped by the steps of the main rotunda to greet the champions before heading back to Happy Valley.

Lions Make B1G Championship History

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State made history Sunday afternoon, as the Nittany Lion men were crowed Big Ten Outdoor Champions, earning their first Big Ten title in program history.

Carrying the momentum of a standout opening day throughout the three-day event, the Penn State men finished 14 points ahead of second-place Ohio State (103) to lock up the title.

Hosting the event for the first time since 2007 and just the third time in program history, the Nittany Lions wasted no time setting the tone, with three of four day one silver medalists coming on the men's side. 

"This has been, personally, a date that I've had on the calendar for three years," Penn State head coach John Gondak said. "When we first found out we were going to host in 2017, it was a goal to host a great championship and have two teams that can contend."

By the end of the first day, even with some unpredictable weather, the Penn State men had rocketed to the top of the team standings with nearly double the team score of second-place Nebraska and Wisconsin. 

"They just went out and from the first day, scoring 40 points in three events, which is something we weren't expected to do, and just jumped out to a big lead like that," Gondak said. 

Penn State powered through day two, highlighted by a school record performance in the long jump. Fueled by the energy of the crowd, Malik Moffett joined an elite group with a jump of 26'-3" (8 m) to surpass a school record set by David Coney in 1985.

It wasn't until just after the record-setting gold medal performance that Moffett realized he had etched his name into program history.

"I found out and my coach picked me up and I thought, did that really happen, I'm in the eight meter club," Moffett said. "It's a nice club to be in and not too many people can say that so I'm pretty psyched about it."

Having already qualified for the 200-meter finals a day prior, sprints had actually been the focus of the senior Nittany Lion leading up to the weekend.

"Really I stopped doing a lot of long jump stuff and focused more on sprints," Moffett said. "I only really practiced long jump two times out of the week and I don't know why, but I guess it worked. 

A first team All-Big Ten selection, Moffett, wasn't finished, claiming the 200-meter title with a time of 19.87w to ascend to the top of the all-condition standings in program history. 

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Penn State also saw fellow first team All-Big Ten selection Isaiah Harris pour on the points, extending his stretch of dominance in the 800-meter race. With a time of 1:49.68, Harris earned his fourth consecutive Big Ten title, having now won each indoor and outdoor titles consecutively across the last two years.

"Every time I come to the conference meet I know there's going to be good competition out there so it means a lot to go out there and defend a title against that many good guys," Harris said.

Despite windy conditions, Harris wasn't fazed by the snippets of unfavorable weather throughout the weekend. 

"It was really windy out there today so I wanted to tuck in behind someone and let them break the wind for me and then the last 250 I just went for it," Harris said.

Just two of a wealth of key performances and top contributors across the weekend, it's the entire team effort that has Gondak most impressed at the end of the weekend.

"It's obviously a goal of ours to try and win a men's and a women's title on the same day, we came a little bit short on the women's side today, but the men came through and it's a testament to them and their passion and their competitiveness," Gondak said.

On the women's side, Dannielle Gibson was among two to earn gold on the final day of competition. With a 45'-1.75" (13.76m)w mark, Gibson locked up the triple jump title to help propel the Nittany Lion women to a third-place finish in the final team standings. 

Relying on training and preparation, pure joy took over as Gibson peered to the results to find out she'd be taking home the title.

"It was an exhilarating feeling, nothing like it to be honest," Gibson said. "More so not proud for myself, but proud to contribute points to my team, that was the major thing I was focused on so it was a wonderful feeling." 

Perhaps no feeling is greater than the sight of the Nittany Lion men's team hoisting their first Big Ten trophy in program history, circled by the support of the entire men's and women's team.

"Seeing the guys able to make history right here on our own track, it's like a whole different level," Gibson said.

For Moffett and Harris, it's the culmination of years of hard work, especially for those in their final season in the Blue and White. 

"The first time we came to this facility Penn State said, they've never won a Big Ten title and they've always kept on hammering us about it," Moffett said. "To make it reality is just amazing."

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most people know the Penn Relays (or Carnival) as the oldest and largest track and field meet in the United States, but for most athletes, including the Penn Staters that will be competing their this week, it's the most fun meet to compete at.

 

Junior high jumper Megan McCloskey has been competing at the Penn Relays for twelve years now, starting when she was in fourth grade. Competing at this widely attended track meet has made it one of her favorites to go to.

 

"I think it's just such a special meet because it's one of the only times in the year that a track meet turns into a carnival as they say," said McCloskey. "It's not often that you can fill the stands to watch a track meet, which is exciting."

 

McCloskey has made many memories over the past decade competing at this meet, but hopes that this year's meet with add a new memory of winning another Penn Relays medal or even a Penn Relays gold watch. When winning a college individual event at the Carnival, athletes receive a gold watch rather than a gold medal.

 

Junior sprinter Xavier Smith was familiar with the Penn Relays before competing as a Nittany Lion as well. Smith competed with his high school during his junior and senior year and got to experience the fun of seeing all the different teams compete.

 

"Going there, it was very different than your average high school meet or your average invitational. You have the Jamaican section, the American section going crazy in the big stands there. It was just a great environment," said Smith.

 

On the coaching end of competing at Penn Relays, Associate Head Coach Erin Tucker says it's no different than training for a regular outdoor meet. The women compete on Thursday, so they have one less day to prep than men, but for the athletes it really doesn't differ as far as regular pre-meet training.

 

"Penn Relays is just another track meet that we have to prepare for," said Tucker.

 

Tucker views the Penn Relays as a prep meet for their bigger meets coming in the future.

 

"In my mind, I look at five track meets that are really important every year: The Indoor Nationals and Indoor Conference meet, the Outdoor Nationals, the Outdoor First-Round Meet and the Conference Meet. Other than that, every other track meet we go to is about having fun and is about prepping for those five meets," said Tucker.

 

The Nittany Lions will compete at the Penn Relays starting Thursday, April 27 and will continue competing throughout the weekend. 

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I came on my official visit September of my senior year, and I didn't really have a choice at that point, I just loved it so much," said junior Megan McCloskey when talking about her college decision process.

 

McCloskey is now currently the No.2 all-time high jumper in Penn State outdoor history with a mark of 5'-11.50" (1.82m), but she didn't start her track career with jumps. McCloskey has been involved with track since she was little, where she started competing in meets as young as six years old.

 


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"I started competing in track when I was in kindergarten, and it was more just a fun thing that I did with my brother and sister. We would just do summers and all-comers meets, then through my grade school program, which is Catholic Youth Organization, we started in first grade where it was just running the 100 and stuff like that. That's kinda where I got started, and then I've been doing it ever since."

 

"I started to practice high jump a little bit in fourth grade because we needed to score points and no one ever did high jump, so it was just something I found and I wasn't very good at it. In fifth and sixth grade, I started to realize that I had some skill in it and then I started doing AAU track and field outside of my grade school track."

 

Coming to Penn State wasn't necessarily in McCloskey's plans, but having a family history with the school and having a great recruitment weekend made her decision pretty clear.

 

"My mom ran track at Penn State, which was obviously always in the back of my mind. My dad played football here, so there was definitely a Penn State tradition in my family. Since I was little, I thought I would never go to Penn State because I didn't just want to follow them. I looked at a bunch of different places, mostly local because I didn't want to stray too far from home because I'm super close to my family and I love home."

 

"I came on my visit and we did the whole recruiting weekend and I stayed with my host, which was Kasey Kemp and she was awesome. I knew immediately that the other schools I was talking to I was going to have to let them know sooner than later because I fell in love with Penn State when I got here," McCloskey said  "The team aspect that I felt when I was on campus that weekend was different than any other school I went to. I could tell that it was a full team rather than just individuals. They were all friends and I felt welcomed in very fast."

 

McCloskey is in her junior year and has competed in five Big Ten Championships during her time here. This past indoor Big Ten Championship, McCloskey placed 2nd while the girls team won the gold.

 

"The Big Ten Championships indoor this past season has been my favorite memory as a whole," the junior said.  "We knew that we were in a good spot going into the championship, but we didn't know exactly where that would leave us at the end of the weekend. After I finished high jumping the second day of Big Tens, which is the final day, I didn't really know where our team was at I just knew everyone was having really good performances. I could feel the energy and then someone told me we could actually do this and all of a sudden, we had two races left to watch and then they announced our name. We knew as soon as the relay was over that we were Big Ten Champs."

 


Photo provided by Megan McCloskey

"It was with a special group of girls that were on the same page the whole season. We were working together and being able to win something with those people, especially our seniors before they graduate, was just so special to me."

 

McCloskey still has a lot more planned for the rest of her outdoor season and the rest of her time at Penn State. Her main goal is to make it to Nationals this upcoming summer.

 

"I definitely have some big goals. I'm looking to be a Big Ten Champ individually, on the top of the podium, that would be my biggest goal and to qualify for Nationals in Eugene this June. I haven't gotten there yet, I have gotten to the prelims, but I would love to be there, and I think that's the ultimate stage for a Division I track athlete."

 

As well as making it to Nationals, McCloskey hopes the team will be outdoor Big Ten Champions the first weekend in May.

 

"I want to repeat. I want it so badly for us to be able to win a Big Ten championship on our track at home outdoors. I think it would be even cooler if we could do it with our boys. That's my goal for our team as a whole, I'm really hoping that the two of us come home victorious on that day in May."

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "It wasn't much of a decision," said junior Xavier Smith when choosing to come to Penn State back in 2014.

 

Smith's journey was unlike any usual track athlete. He got a late start, only beginning his track career his junior year at Daniel Boone High School.

 

"I first started track my junior year in high school. It was a little late, I started because I needed to get away from football a little bit," said Smith.

 

Smith wanted to join his brother and give track a try, where he originally wanted to be a thrower.

 

"I decided track was a good option.  My brother ran track in high school so I figured I'd be alright at track because he was pretty good too," said Smith. "I ran all sprints, but I actually wanted to throw because I didn't feel like running, but I did one throwing practice and that wasn't for me."

 

Smith grew up in Douglassville, PA, a community in Amity Union Townships that is little under three hours away from University Park. He knew that Penn State would be his first choice for college from the beginning.

 

"Penn State was always one of my favorite colleges growing up being from Pennsylvania and just watching football games here every weekend. I always wanted to come to Penn State," said Smith.

 

Although he was set on coming to Penn State, he wasn't sure if it would be a possibility after he decided he wanted to pursue track in college.

 

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to come to Penn State because I wanted to do track in college. Then when I started to get better results from my races, I decided it was worth a shot to try track at Penn State and see if I could get on the team there. I contacted them and a week later I came to visit, and a few weeks later I signed for Penn State."

 

Now, Smith is in his third year at Penn State and he knows he made the right decision going to school here. 

 

"Penn State has been great, it's been all I could ask for. Everyday it's definitely something new and I like that. I like the people here, I like the coaches here, I like the atmosphere. Everyone is just a big, big family. It's a really good environment."

 

Smith is now a lead sprinter for the track and field team, where he runs the 60-meter dash, 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays. He has already made a presence at the Big Ten Championships.

 

This past Big Ten Indoor Championships, Smith was the 60-meter dash champion (6.66) and he finished fourth in the 200-meter dash clocking in with a time of 21.07. Smith was also a part of the school record-breaking 4x4 relay team along with sophomores Dan Chisena, Sam Reiser and Isaiah Harris (3:04.80).

 

"My favorite Penn State memory would definitely be winning the 4x4 at the Big Ten Indoor Championships this year. It was awesome to see my teammate, Isaiah (Harris) catch the guy at the end and bring us a Big Ten gold medal."

 

With outdoor season underway and still another year left of competing, Smith is looking to accomplish a lot more during his time here.

 

"I have another year, so I definitely want get more Big Ten medals, that's the first thing. I want to get a team Big Ten Championship, and at the end of that I want to be an All-American."

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With outdoor season well underway, Penn State is finally experiencing the outdoor season weather along with it.

 

The team spent some time out on their newly renovated track this past week since the weather was nice here in Happy Valley, and is feeling good after experiencing the smoothly surfaced track.

 

"It's been nice for the long throwers to be able to actually get on the runway and in circle and do what they want to do," said head coach John Gondak. "For the runners, the adjustment is the first time you do a workout out there the track seems so big as compared to what we are used to in here. Sometimes they feel a little sluggish on it, but as you can see from our first two competitions where they vast majority of the people competing weren't on an outdoor track yet, it didn't seem to affect them very much at all."

 

Throws coach, Lucais MacKay, feels that being able to finally practice on the outdoor track has been a positive boost for the throwers attitudes and performances.

 

"Being out on the outdoor track has been much, much more exciting. It's fun to finally see things go far. Athletes are in a little better mood and you get more feedback, just being outdoors in the circle," said MacKay. "So, they were a little bit behind the curve, with only have two or three practices outside before Arizona State, but now we've had a solid twelve days outside so I think they're finally coming into form."

 

For senior javelin thrower Michael Shuey, this transition to being able to throw outdoors isn't something new.

 

"It's a little difficult because you kind of get content just doing drills over and over again, you don't really get to see how the javelin is flying or anything like that, but coming off the injury it was nice to break everything down and not worry about distance. It was a nice transition period, but I've done it five times now so I was used to it at this point," said Shuey.

 

"After the first meet, I'm glad to get that out of the way. I was really nervous. I'm just excited to go to this next meet and do what we've been working on all of indoor season and now even more with being outside again, and I'm excited to settle in and throw how I know I can throw," he added.

 

Along with the throwers, different events experience different obstacles when transitioning into outdoor season. For pole vaulters, wind becomes a major factor with how they approach their jump. Junior vaulter, Hannah Mulhern explains just how important it is to get some practice in an outdoor setting before competition.

 

"Being able to finally practice on our outdoor track has been something really great because the outdoor season for us as pole vaulters brings a whole new element into place, which is wind," said Mulhern. "It's really important that we get experience practicing with that outdoors and get used to it and get used to working through and getting used to that new element so that we're prepared for any kind of weather condition anywhere we go."

 

The Nittany Lions will be traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to compete in the Battle on the Bayou this Saturday, April 8th.  With the long road ahead, Gondak is happy with how the men and women are performing at this point in the year.

 

"I'm thrilled with where we are right now. We had a lot of things go right at both Florida Relays, Arizona State and Stanford," said Gondak. "Looking ahead, this is a great weekend for us at LSU to go into a scored meet and compete against three of the best teams in the country, so I'm excited to see our student-athletes go out there and compete."

@GOPSUSPORTS

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