By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com 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.