By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight Penn State track and field athletes are competing in the final indoor meet of the season, the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend.
The four Nittany Lions of Brannon Kidder, Alex Shisler, Rachel Fatherly and Tori Gerlach are making returns to the NCAA Championships. Four more athletes, Isaiah Harris, Jordan Makins, Tessa Barrett, and Dannielle Gibson are making their debuts in the NCAA Championships.
Here's how each of the Nittany Lion NCAA competitors earned their way to the NCAA Indoors:
On the men's side, USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Men's Track Athlete of the Year and senior leader Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) held the Penn State school record in the 800m before his teammate Harris broke it last week. Kidder has been instrumental in Harris's development as a young Nittany Lion mid-distance runner. In the 800m, Kidder ran a personal best 1:47.01 which was the best time in the country and school record at the time in the Penn State National. Kidder's versatility to compete in multiple events has been valuable for coach John Gondak and the Nittany Lions. Kidder won the Big Ten Indoor Championships in the mile last week with a time of 4:07.89 but will run the 800m event in the Indoor NCAAs.
Breakout freshman Isaiah Harris (Lewiston, Maine) has turned heads with his performances in his freshman indoor campaign. In last week's Big Ten Indoor Championships, Harris re-wrote the record books with a winning 800m performance of (1:46.24) in which he set a new all-time Big Ten indoor record, a Big Ten Indoor Championships record, a SPIRE institute facility record, a Penn State school record, and a personal best time.
The men's distance medley of sophomore Jordan Makins (Perth, Australia), senior Alex Shisler (State College, Pa.), Harris, and anchor leg Kidder has continued the long-time Penn State tradition in the DMR. In one of the fastest races of the year, the quartet won with a time of 9:27.20 in the Penn State National. The quartet is coming off of a victory in the Big Ten Indoor Championships last week. Senior Robert Rhodes (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and freshman Colin Abert (Easton, Pa.) are alternates for the DMR.
On the women's side, USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Women's Field Athlete of the Year and senior leader Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) led a strong Penn State women's throwing contingent led all year. USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Women's Assistant Coach of the Year Patrick Ebel has coached Fatherly to many excellent performances. Fatherly earned runner-up honors in the Big Ten Indoors with a shot put throw of 52' 11". Fatherly also finished fourth in the weight throw. She will compete in the shot put this weekend.
Senior captain Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) finished second in both of the 3,000m (9:12.88) and 5,000m (15:50.49) Big Ten Indoor events. Gerlach will be competing in the 5,000m run this weekend.
Redshirt-freshman Tessa Barrett (Waverly, Pa.) set a 5,000m school record time of 15:46.08 at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Washington in the later part of the indoor season. In the Big Ten Indoors, Barrett finished third in both of the 3,000m (9:16.49) and 5,000m events (15:51.56) behind fellow teammate Tori Gerlach.
Junior Dannielle Gibson (Nassau, Bahamas) finished second with a triple jump of 42' 11.75" in the Big Ten Indoor Championship. Early in the indoor season, Gibson set a personal best with a triple jump of 43' 1.5" in the Nittany Lion Challenge.
Here's how the Nittany Lions stack up against athletes around the country going into the NCAA Indoors:
|Men's Athlete(s)||Event||Time/Distance||NCAA Rank|
|Jordan Makins, Alex Shisler, Isaiah Harris, Brannon Kidder||Men's Distance Medley||9:27.20||3rd|
|Isaiah Harris||Men's 800m||1:46.24||4th|
|Brannon Kidder||Men's 800m||1:47.01||8th|
|Women's Athlete(s)||Event||Time/Distance||NCAA Rank|
|Rachel Fatherly||Women's Shot Put||56' 8"||8th|
|Dannielle Gibson||Triple Jump||43' 1.5"||15th|
Friday and Saturday's competition both begin at 1 p.m. The meet will be broadcast live on the ESPN family of networks.
For more on Nittany Lion track & field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.