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VIDEO: Lee & Rhodes Talk Black History Month

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  In the first of a three-part video series, Penn State women's volleyball student-athlete Simone Lee sits down with track and field student-athlete Tichina Rhodes to talk Black History Month and diversity throughout the entire Penn State Athletics community. 

Throughout the entire month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its student-athletes and coaches who have helped shape Nittany Lion history. View more here.


By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Isaiah Harris, Tessa Barrett and Danae Rivers currently all have NCAA leading times after the Penn State National Open this past weekend.  


Sophomore Isaiah Harris started the day off with a bang. Harris and Penn State alum, Casimir Loxsom ran a world record-breaking race in the 600m. Loxsom won the race with a time of 1:14.91. Not far behind, Harris came in second with a time of 1:14.96. Loxsom and Harris are now No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively.


"I felt really good throughout the whole race, even when I was done," said Harris. "I knew Cas was going to go out fast like we talked about what he was going to do before the race. I knew he was going to try to go out at 48, so I knew if I just stuck with him it would be a perfect race for me. So, I want to thank Cas for pulling me along."


Harris and Loxsom had already ran against each other at this past summer's Olympic trials, so they had formed a special bond on and off the track.


"We talked a lot, like we texted, talked on Twitter and stuff like that. We kept in contact, so he's like a friend now. It's pretty cool," said Harris. "We were at Oregon at the trials and he had dinner with us a few times and hung out with me and (Penn State alum Brannon) Kidder. It's cool having someone who can push you and be competitive with, but you're also friends with at the same time."


This world record-breaking race is just a start of what the rest of the season will be for Harris.


"I think it's a big confidence boost for what I can do in the future," said Harris. "It's really going to help me in the 800. When we go out fast in the 800, the first 600 I'm going to feel more comfortable knowing that I can run faster than that. It's going to help me overall and hopefully it can lead to a faster 800."


Harris' time is now the collegiate 600m record and currently No. 1 in the nation.


Also on the track, sophomore Tessa Barrett broke the 3,000-meter school record running a time of 9:07.22, which is also the top time in the nation.


"I'm so glad I had Tori (Gerlach) to help push me along," said Barrett. "It was really cool because the (5,000m) school record holder, Bridget Franek, was here today, so that was really cool. I didn't even know."


This school record and leading national time is just the beginning for the rest of Barrett's indoor season. This mark and her teammates will only push her to achieve more going forward.


"I think it was a good benchmark just to know that I could run that time. I think moving forward, just keep the ball rolling," said Barrett. "It's amazing having teammates like Danae and Isaiah and seeing them run amazing, it's just inspiring me to do more. I think we got a lot of energy right now so definitely just keep moving forward."


Along with those huge performances, freshman Danae Rivers is right there with her older teammates. Rivers is now 3-for-3 in school records. Rivers has broken the 600m school record, the 800m school record and now the mile school record consecutively in past three meets. Rivers' mile time of 4:34.87 is now No. 1 in the NCAA.


"I had a game plan from the get-go, so I knew to go out with Grace (Trucilla) who was rabbiting today. Stick with her then that last 800 just keeping going," said Rivers. "It feels amazing. I'm on my feet right now so that's pretty good. I'm a little sore, but I'm just glad I got it done and working with the coaches is very great."


Head coach John Gondak knew that Rivers would be a top performer after watching her throughout this past preseason.


"It's pretty amazing. As I said after the first two, she did some things this fall in training that made me think that this was a special athlete and she just continues to show it," said Gondak. "What's pretty amazing is that you go 3:18 for a 1200 last night, then 4:34 No. 1 time in the country for the mile, then back it up with a second PR in the 4x4 with a split of 53.6 It's just amazing range and she's got some great opportunities ahead of her to do some special things and she's got a great head, looking forward to seeing where things go with her."


Gondak is more than pleased with the performances on and off the track that happened at the Penn State National Open.


"It got started with a bang with a world record, which was thrilling. Cas Lozsom came back and was shooting for that world record, and pulled Isaiah Harris to a collegiate record and the No. 1 and No. 2 times ever in the world. It was an exciting start," said Gondak. "The meet today produced a lot of Big Ten No. 1 performances and a lot of No. 1 NCAA performances. Across all of the events, it was just a fantastic National Open and I'm thankful for the teams that came here and made it a great experience."

SAAB Hosts Lip Sync Battle to Benefit THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Filling the HUB-Robeson Center Freeman Auditorium with Penn State students and Nittany Lion student-athletes, the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) hosted its second annual lip sync battle Wednesday evening.

In a full for the kids effort, the annual event benefits THON, Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to support pediatric cancer.

Featuring musical lip syncing acts from 11 different Penn State Athletics programs, months worth of planning and preparation finally came together in an energetic evening for a tremendous cause.

"I think it just bring out more of the sense of community that we really already have in athletics," track and field sophomore and lead event coordinator Tess Kearns said. "We're so strong all together but to be able to something for THON and see the impact that it's making every year - if we could just raise that number even a little bit on final reveal, that would be all the difference."

From lip sync covers ranging from Justin Beiber mixes to Beyoncé, Sia and School of Rock, the event, which was open to all to attend, brought laughs throughout the night with guest judges featuring director of student-athlete welfare and development Liz Johnson, director of Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, John Affleck and Penn State Blue Band drum major Jimmy Frisbie. 


Penn State women's volleyball highlighted early with their Justin Beiber mix, followed up with women's soccer's rendition of Sia's "Chandelier" midway through the program. 

"SAAB THON is my favorite thing in the world," said SAAB THON chair Angela Widlacki, a member of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team. "Being able to come out here and see this huge crowd, it means so much to us and I know it meant a lot to our family the Messina's." 

Men's hockey and defending SAAB lip sync battle champion wrestling closed out the evening lip syncing to a pair of movie tunes featuring "Zach's song" from School of Rock and "Breaking Free" from High School Musical. 


With the final scores tallied, the panel of judges voted Penn State women's soccer duo of Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas in the top spot this year to earn the golden microphone. Men's hockey finished second, while wrestling claimed the third-place finish.

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By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior two-time Big Ten Champion Tori Gerlach thought her career as a Penn State runner was ending last year, but things quickly changed.

Gerlach had competed in four indoor meets during the 2016 indoor season and intended on running and competing during the 2016 outdoor season as well. Then, she got injured and couldn't compete at all for what was supposed to be her last outdoor season.

After carefully considering her options, Gerlach decided to come back for a fifth year at Penn State. Now, she knows this spring will be her very last time competing as a Nittany Lion.

"I'm excited, but I also thought I was done last year until all of a sudden, with two months to go, I had to change my plan entirely because I got injured," said Gerlach. "I'm really excited although it's kind of bittersweet, knowing it's coming to an end, but I feel like it's going to be the best season I've ever had." 

Gerlach only has outdoor eligibility left, so she has spent this year's cross country and indoor seasons training for the upcoming season. 

Although she isn't running for Penn State right now, she still gets to compete unattached in indoor home meets in order to be as prepared as possible for meets coming up this March.

"The training is still intense. I'm doing the same exact things; I just don't have that many races to prepare for," said Gerlach. "In cross country, I just trained for everything. I didn't have to cut back in mileage because I was racing. It was emotionally not as intense, which is really nice." 

"Her training really doesn't differ that much than if she were competing in the indoor season," said head coach John Gondak. "She still is running in multiple races unattached and is training with the team. I wish the outdoor season would start tomorrow in respect to her, she's ready for it." 

"She's a multiple Big Ten champion and will be a great asset to our team this outdoor season as we prepare to win a Big Ten Championship at home."

Having this chance to run at the indoor home meets unattached allows for Gerlach to get back in the racing mindset, so she isn't completely starting over this outdoor season.

"I am racing at home, and it definitely feels like I'm getting back into it," said Gerlach. "It's not as intense and I don't have to spend my energy worrying about (indoor) Big Tens and Nationals, I can just workout with my teammates, race with my teammates and know in the back of my mind that outdoor is the main focus." 

Gerlach has been a huge part of this Penn State track and field program since she came in as a freshman in 2012.

She currently has the number one all-time indoor performances in the mile and the 1,000-meter run with times of 4:37.83 and 2:43.15, respectively. She also has the second all-time indoor performance in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:50.49 and the second all-time outdoor performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:53.98. 

Gerlach is also a two-time Big Ten indoor champion where she won the 3,000-meter run in 2014 and then later won the 5,000-meter run in 2015. 

Although track has been successful and a major part of Gerlach's college years, she says the whole student-athlete experience has impacted her life in more ways than just running. 

"Being an athlete isn't all about the running and racing, it definitely has shaped me into who I am as a human being in general."   

Gerlach and the rest of the Nittany Lions will kick off their 2017 outdoor season with the Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge in Tempe, Arizona on March 24th.


By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State track and field team opened its indoor season Saturday, Jan. 14th on home turf.  The Nittany Lions hosted their own Nittany Lion Challenge at the Multi-Sport Facility where Bucknell, Cornell, Georgetown, Maryland, Pittsburgh, UConn, Villanova, Central Connecticut came to compete.


Last year at this meet, the Nittany Lions won 13 events, set four meets records, and broke three school records. This year, the team captured 12 event wins and a new school record.


Freshman Danae Rivers broke Briene Simmons' seven-year-old 600 meter Penn State school record of 1:29.81 as she ran a new record time of 1:29.06.  


Rivers was in shock about her opening indoor performance.


"It really hasn't hit me yet, but it's a blessing I'd say," said Rivers. "All the hard work is just starting to pay off and it's only the beginning of the season."


The great start to her first indoor season at Penn State has only set the tone for where the rest of her indoor season will take her.


"It lets me know where I am running wise. I am looking forward to the future competition and just getting better from here," said Rivers.


Along with Rivers' record-breaking performance, the Nittany Lions also had many personal bests set at their indoor home opener.


Bryce Williams opened his junior year with a first place and an over two-foot indoor personal best in the triple jump.  


"Opening the indoor season with a PR (personal record) feels awesome especially because I didn't get a chance to jump last year," said Williams. "I trusted my coach and kept going strong in workouts. I'm really excited to PR and get the win."


"For the season, I feel really good. I want to go up from here and continue to work hard in practice. I don't want to change anything because it's been working. I'm looking forward to the season and to see what happens," he added.


Williams surpassed his triple jump indoor PR of 49'5" to 51'8.25". 


Along with Williams, senior Dannielle Gibson also won triple jump with a new indoor personal best mark of 43'09".


"It feels exhilarating. Not only for myself, like an accomplishment for myself, but for my team as well. I feel like I have to give it up to my team because first my teammates starting it off and added fuel to the fire, so it was really good to get that start and look forward to what's going to come next," said Gibson. "Mentally, I feel like I'm ten steps or ten moves from where I was last year, so it's a continuation of starting from square one and I feel really good about that."


Gibson also took first in the long jump with a leap of 19'01.25".


Along with Williams and Gibson, many other Nittany Lion runners took first in their events Saturday.


For the men, Junior Malik Moffett won the long jump (23'7.5"), junior Xavier Smith in the 60-meter dash (6.75), sophomore Morgan Shigo in the men's weight throw (64'8"), and freshman Tyreek Mathis in the 200-meter dash (21.98). The men's 4x400 meter relay also took first place.


On the women's side, freshman Rachel Banks won the 800-meter dash (2:11.72), junior Quenee Dale in the 60 meter hurdles (8.36), redshirt junior Lexi Masterson in pole vault (13.25') and senior Alyssa Robinson in the shot put (50'6.75").


Robinson knows the shot put win was just the start her last indoor season needed.


"I'm pretty excited. I thought of today as kind of a rust buster. It was a meet to shake out the nerves, you know, just compete and get ready for the rest of the season," said Robinson. "I think it's a good confidence booster for the rest of the season. I go more by mark than what I place, so I'm pretty happy with how I did today, and I think it was a good start. I can only go up from here."


The Nittany Lions will next be in action Friday, Jan. 20th and Saturday, Jan. 21st as they compete in Lexington, KY in the Rob McCravy Memorial. 


By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion Challenge this Saturday will be the first home meet of the indoor season for the track team, but it'll also be assistant coach Lucais MacKay's first meet coaching here at Penn State.

 Coach MacKay is coming from coaching throwers at Oklahoma State University, where he coached during the 2015-2016 indoor and outdoor seasons. There, he led two athletes to the NCAA Championship meet, where one placed second in the women's shot put. Now, MacKay is onto his first indoor season here at Penn State.

"It's been awesome. Coming into town and buying my first home, feeling really embraced by the whole community, taking my dog to the park and going to the football games, it really feels like a community. I like that a lot," said MacKay.

"It feels like a traditional college town and everyone is behind the athletic department. If you go out to Wegman's or anywhere in your gear, you usually get stopped and that's nice. I really like that feeling."

The atmosphere of the Penn State track team is one of MacKay's favorite parts of coaching here.

"Having this indoor facility and having the team all under one roof, getting to see the jumpers and the distance kids and the rest of the event groups work on a regular basis I think is really good for the cohesion of the team," said MacKay. "The fall was fast, quick and a lot of things happened. Coming in new, getting to know my athletes can sometimes be difficult, but everything has been really positive." 

"I'm really excited for these kids," he added.  "They went through the transition of losing a coach and there's a fair bit of upperclassmen and some good underclassmen that are developing. I'm excited for them to put on the jersey, compete at home and get a mark that counts. They practice for three to four months before you actually get to say 'yes this one counts.' I'm excited for that and excited to see how they compete. Going through mock scenarios is always nice, but getting an opportunity to line up and get your name called and have it count and the comradery that comes out of that."

MacKay's first fall preseason here was a transition that the throwers adjusted to well.

"I think getting to know the athletes, getting to know their training and laying down a foundation of technique was the most important thing that we accomplished (in the fall preseason). So now, kind of putting those things under fire and seeing how they hold up in competition and seeing if we need to alleviate any performance anxieties or any of those little mental things that creep up," said MacKay. "We train a lot, so getting good feedback from the fall and clocking in good hours and doing the good technical practices is setting us up for some success here in January. I'm looking forward to lacing up and seeing if that works."

Senior thrower Michael Shuey said MacKay always came prepared and ready to challenge them at practice.

"Everything had a common goal that we were doing. Everything made sense. He's really smart in how he prepares practices for us and writes everything down," said Shuey. "He's a mad scientist when it comes to track, so there's no doubt that we're all ready for this year." 

Junior thrower Obeng Marfo said the fall consisted of different training than previous falls have, but she's ready to see how that all plays out this Saturday.

"I'm excited to do well because we've been training really hard in the fall season," said Marfo. "With a new coach, we've learned a lot of different things, so I'm pretty excited to showcase the things I've learned in the fall season. I hope the things we've done will help show results in the meet. I'm really excited for this season."

 Coach MacKay and the Nittany Lions will first be in action at their home opener meet this Saturday, Jan. 14th at the Multi-Sport Facility. 

By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With country cross season just coming to an end, and the first indoor track meet of the season soon, the Penn State distance team is now in full track mode.

"It's been an outstanding fall. Obviously, the vast majority of athletes in middle distance group were doing some really high quality cross country training this past fall and really helped our team have a successful fall season," said head coach John Gondak. "The women as runner-ups in the Big Ten and winning the region and advancing to nationals. The men for getting a top five finish at the regional championships. Everybody has built up a fantastic base." 

Cross country season has allowed the athletes to already have solid training under their belt, but now the Nittany Lions are gearing up for their first indoor meet and are doing more track-based workouts.

"Now that cross country is over we're going to transition that into some quality track work. I think we have some outstanding athletes between the middle distance and distance side, both the men's and women's program," said Gondak. "I'm really looking forward to this indoor season."

The women had great success this cross country season, with 2015 Cross Country All-American Tessa Barrett and 2016 Cross Country All-Americans Elizabeth Chikotas and Jillian Hunsberger.

Last indoor season, Tessa Barrett ran the fastest 5,000-meter time in program history (15:46.08). Barrett also placed third in both the 3,000-meters (9:16.49) and 5,000-meters (15:51.56) at the Big Ten Championships. She also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 5,000-meters and recorded an 11th place finish with a time of 16:25.94. 

Elizabeth Chikotas ran the 5th fastest time in program history in the 5,000-meters at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Washington, running a time of 16:04.66. Chikotas placed third in the 3,000-meters at the Penn State National (9:17.58) and recorded a personal best in the mile at the Nittany Lion Challenge (4:45.59). Chikotas was also a part of the winning distance medley team and 4x800-meter relay team that won at the Penn State Relays.

Current junior Jillian Hunsberger did not compete during the 2016 indoor season, but did compete in a few meets outdoor. Hunsberger had a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Big Ten Championships in the 5,000-meters, running a personal best of 16:18.95.

For the men's middle distance and distance, last indoor season standouts were Isaiah Harris and Colin Abert.

Coming off a sixth-place in the 800-meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials is sophomore Isaiah Harris. Harris won the 800-meter at the Indoor Big Ten Championships running his all-time Big Ten record time of 1:46.24. That is also Penn State's all-time fastest indoor 800-meters time. He also has the fourth fastest 600-meter run in program history with a time of 1:17.50. Harris was also a part of Penn State's second all-time fastest distance medley relay.

Also, a sophomore this year, Colin Abert finished eighth in the mile at the 2016 Indoor Big Ten Championships (4:10.95). Abert recorded an 8:08.94 in the 3,000-meters at the FastrackNational Invite. He also took third in the 1,500-meters at the Penn State National (3:48.15). 

"They're responding really well from a great fall cross country season, which I'm really excited about," said assistant distance coach Angela Reckart. "They're really strong aerobically, so I'm just looking forward to continue to build on that for track."

The Penn State Track team will first be in action at their Blue and White intrasquad meet next Sat. Dec. 10th at the Multi-Sport Complex on campus.  

By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With fall training well underway, the Penn State Track & Field team is gearing up for their first indoor meet in mid-December.

Jump and multi-event coaches, Kevin Kelly and Fritz Spence, are feeling confident after the first month of preseason.

Coach Kelly is in his fourth year coaching at Penn State, where he coaches men's triple jump, long jump, multi-events and men/women's pole vault. 

"So far, so good. We've put in a really good fall. I'm really excited about where we are at," said Kelly. 

Men's triple jump is led by junior, Bryce Williams. While an injury kept him out of the Big Ten meet last year, Williams scored at Big Tens two years ago with a mark of 50'2', his personal best. Kelly has high hopes for Williams this season, saying he is really coming along. On the younger side, Kelly said both sophomore Kobren Frederick and freshman Darian Alston will be big factors this season. Frederick, who won the triple jump at the 2015 Pennsylvania Outdoor Track & Field State Championships, had a personal best triple jump at 47'-9.25". Alston was the 2016 indoor state champion in the triple jump, coming in with a best mark of 48'9". 

"Triple jump has been a real strength at Penn state here for a long time, even before I got here. We graduated two All-Americans that have been at national championships and contending for Big Ten titles," said Kelly. "I think we have a group that can do something at the Big Ten level."

The same three men will be competing in long jump for Penn State. Williams had personal best mark of 23'7-25" outdoor at the Jim Thorpe Invite last season. Along with that group, junior Malik Moffett also will compete in long jump this season. Moffett is in the top-10 outdoor performances for Penn State with a mark of 24'-11.50" at the 2016 Big Ten Championships, making him ninth all-time. 

Kelly said men's high jump is very young. Sophomore Chisom Ifedi was third at the Big Ten meet last year, with a mark of 7'05". Devin Bradham is also a sophomore with a personal best mark of 6'9".

Two freshmen come in as high school state champions, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Colorado. Spencer Hay was the 2016 PIAA-2A high jump state champion with a personal best mark of 6'8", while Austin Campbell, who was a state champ of Colorado, is coming in with a 6'11" mark. 

For the men's pole vault, we have freshman Griffin Thompson. Thompson was a Pennsylvania state champion last year with a mark of 16'3". Senior Patrick Anderson, who was hurt last year, is healthy and ready to go according to Kelly. 

For the women's vault, Penn State has a group of top-ten all-time jumpers. Senior outdoor record holder Lexi Masterson (13'-3.5"), second on the all-time list, junior Hannah Mulhern (13'-2.5"), fourth on the all-time list, Kasey Kemp (12-10.25"), and ninth all-time, Megan Fry (12'6"), will all be returning. 

"The women's vault is really an event that I think could really be a strength of our team. We have four ladies who are extremely talented. I think we can do some really good things at the Big Ten level and at the national level. We got Lexi Masterson, Hannah Mulhern, Kasey Kemp and Megan Fry," said Kelly.

For the other jump events, Coach Fritz Spence is in his 10th year coaching for the Nittany Lions, training the women's triple jump, long jump, multi-events.

"I think the fall has been progressing really well," said Spence. "I think we are way ahead of where we were last year at this time, so the student-athletes did a good job this summer in working out and coming back fitter than they normally would."

Last year, senior Danielle Gibson had a tremendous year, where she jumped 44'8.75" in triple jump at the NCAA East Preliminary, her personal best. Gibson is also 10th on the all-time performance list in long jump with her best mark of 20'2.25". Senior Kaitlyn Lopez only has outdoor eligibility, but her fall training is going well. Lopez is tied for eighth all-time in the triple jump for Penn State with a mark of 41'-2.50".

Leading in high jump, junior Megan McCloskey was a consistent 5'10" high jumper last season. Her personal best being 5'10.50" at the Outdoor Big Ten Championships, that mark tying for sixth best in program history.

For multi-events, sophomore Maddie Holmberg is coming off an injury, but is ready for the upcoming season. Holmberg has the seventh all-time heptathlon performance. 

"She's looking good, she's back and learning a lot," said Spence on Holmberg's performance this fall.

Spence talks out his new athletes, saying that the freshmen are also looking good this preseason. For the jumps, freshman include high jumper, Grayson McCloy and long and triple jumpers Julia Howard and Kelsey Vieira.

"I'm really impressed; I'm really excited about the upcoming season. I'm looking forward to some really good, outstanding performances from both the horizontal and vertical jumps," said Spence.

By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With less than a month until their first indoor meet, the Penn State track and field team is well underway in their preseason training.

Assistant coach Lucias MacKay is excited for his first year as throws coach here at Penn State. MacKay is coming from Oklahoma State University, where he was the throws coach during the 2015-2016 indoor and outdoor seasons. During his one year at Oklahoma State, he guided two athletes to an NCAA Championship, where one placed second in the women's shot put.

Now at Penn State, throwers are in their third month of training this fall. Being a first year coach, MacKay spent the first part of training getting familiar with his athletes. 

"First month is kind of getting to know how I coach, how they learn, so that takes a little while, a few weeks. You get to know some of the names of the exercises, those types of things and my coaching style," said MacKay. 

Starting to get further into training, MacKay and his athletes have progressed into more intensive drills and workouts.

"Month two is starting to get used to those things and perfecting them a little more, figuring out where their strengths and weakens are," said MacKay. "Now we're in month three, we're starting to kind of catch a rhythm a little bit, start to train at a little better pace and now we have a little bit longer practices, so it's really going well right now."

The javelin group consists of a lot in-state talent. For the men's side, senior record holder, Michael Shuey (249'-5"), senior Ryan Kerr, and sophomore Michael Biddle are a part of this group. Last outdoor season, Kerr had the best throw with a 228'-8" with Biddle following (214'-2"). 

For the javelin throwers on the women's side there is senior Kayla Zoschq, junior Anna Bailey and sophomore Steph Sievers. All three women threw over 140' last season, Bailey (1849'-2'), Sievers (146'-8") and Zoschg (140'-3"). 

"Having seven javelin throwers is great because it's just one big group of one eventers that we're able to do a lot of training with and get a lot of density in their work," said MacKay.

In the shot put group for the men and women, there is senior Alyssa Robinson, junior John Yoman, sophomore David Lucas and freshmen Ben Peterson and Luke Grodeska. Last outdoor season Robinson threw 54'-2" at the Big Ten Championships, earning a bronze medal for Penn State. This mark also moved her to No. 4 on the all-time list. 

Yohman had the outdoor season best shot put throw with 60'-10.50" at Penn Relays, where he became the third straight Nittany Lion to win the event following Darrell Hill in 2014 and 2015, while Lucas had his best season throw at the Big Ten Championships (55'-1.5").

"Shot put group is coming along really well. John Yoman is in his fourth year, and Alyssa Robinson is coming along in her glide technique. David Lucas may surprise a few people, an All-American in discus last year, he is coming along in the shot put pretty well, trying to be patient. Our two freshmen are also coming along really well.

Some of the discus training has been put on halt due to track renovations, but MacKay is eager to get back out there to see what the athletes can do.

"Discus training is going well and we're looking forward to getting out on our track soon. Hopefully before Thanksgiving break so that we get a month or so on the track to let things fly a little bit and get some feedback from those," said MacKay. 

"Overall, I'm really pleased with the group," said MacKay. "I'm really happy, I think we're going to be really competitive in the Big Ten and hopefully on the national scene as well."

By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With preseason starting last week, the Penn State track and field team is training and getting ready for the upcoming season. caught up with associate head coach, Erin Tucker, to get a preview of this year's track and field sprinters, hurdlers and relay runners.  

This season will mark Tucker's second at Penn State, coming from a successful coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Florida.

Tucker is excited to see what comes from this season. On the women's side, he paid particular attention to sophomore, Keianna Albury. Coming from the Bahamas, Albury is a second-year sprinter, running the 60m, 100m and 200m dash along with both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Last season, she dealt with injuries, but Tucker notes how she is having a great fall and has her expectations set for the upcoming season. 

Senior sprinter, Tichina Rhodes has put in some different training than she's used to, but Tucker thinks that's starting to pay off. Junior, Quenee Dale, is at a good place right now and is expected to do some really good things. 

Tucker notes that senior Megan Osborne and junior Rachael DeCecco have made the biggest jump since last year.

"Both of those young ladies really worked hard over the summer and you can actually tell their fitness level is up, stuff their doing at practice is a hundred times better than they were last year, so I'm really looking forward to seeing those two young ladies do some good things," he said. 

Junior Deja Davis has been leading the way in training for freshman, Kiara Lester. The pair has worked well together throughout the fall and Tucker is excited to see what they will bring to the table this year. 

On the men's side, Tucker moved sophomore Sam Reiser to the 400-600 group.

"Sam is killing it. He's had one of the best falls that I've had anyone in that group in my coaching career, so I'm excited about what he's going to be able do this season," Tucker said. 

School record-holder in the 60m, junior Xavier Smith, is already showing a promising future for potential points at the national level this year. Freshman Darien Williams has been training well and alongside Smith during this preseason. 

Junior Malik Moffett surprised Tucker with his times early this season. He was also impressed with sophomores Lamont Higgins and Dan Chisena in their time trials.

Moving some people around, Tucker has put sophomore Anton Porter and freshman Tristan Daman into the 200-400m training group to do more tempo workouts rather than straight speed workouts.

"They've all been running well in practice and making that adjustment," said Tucker. "I know they hate what we do on Tuesdays and Fridays, but it's going to pay off for them in the long run."

Quarter miler newcomer, Tyreek Mathis is already showing that he'll be an asset to the team this year.

Both the women and the men sprinters, hurdlers and relay runners are continuing their preseason in preparation for their first meet in a little over a month. The indoor season will start off with the annual intrasquad Blue-White on Dec. 10th


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