UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Months of physical preparation boil down to one weekend.
Eleven men and 15 women from the Penn State track and field squads will push themselves to the limit as they compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round this Thursday through Saturday.
This is the competition track and field athletes prepare for all season with the goal of a top-12 finish in their respective event to move on to the NCAA Championships.
Familiarity of the competition is part of an advantage first round veterans have.
"If you're at a facility that you've been at before where you've had success before, you know your way around, it really goes a long way with helping you relax, be confident and comfortable," said head coach John Gondak.
Penn State will be just that as 14 of the 26 student-athletes have competed in the NCAA first round in Jacksonville.
Mental preparation builds off of confidence; a characteristic Gondak and his staff work to build with each student-athlete throughout the season.
"At the end of the day, they're the ones that have to do it. They have to believe they're ready," said Gondak.
Without a doubt, the Nittany Lions are ready.
The men's team ranks 15th, contains three top-ranked athletes and seven returners. Ranked No. 1 in the shot put, Darrell Hill looks for a standout performance to move on for the second time in his career. Hill won the Big Ten title in the shot put just two weeks ago.
Ranked fifth in the region and Big Ten Champion in the javelin throw, Michael Shuey will throw for a shot at competing in Oregon. Joining Shuey is redshirt freshman Ryan Kerr.
Also top-ranked and looking to punch his second ticket to Oregon, Brannon Kidder will run in the 800-meter. Joining Kidder is fellow Nittany Lion Robert Rhodes.
Junior Robby Creese is ready for a comeback performance after redshirting last spring. Entering the competition, the senior ranks No. 1 in the 1,500-meter run.
On the women's side, 15 Nittany Lions are set to compete, including seven veterans representing Penn State in 12 events.
Most recently breaking the Penn State school record with a silver medal throw (56-0) in the shot put at the Big Ten Championships; Rachel Fatherly enters the competition ranked No. 4. Joining Fatherly in the shot put competition are Alyssa Robinson and Obeng Marfo.
Also competing in the field, Lexi Masterson will compete in the women's pole vault; Danielle Gibson will take on the long jump and triple jump.
After notching a silver medal at the Big Ten Championships, Tori Gerlach will represent the Blue and White in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run. Elizabeth Chikotas will make her first round debut in the 5,000-meter as a freshman.
Fellow runners Dynasty McGee and Tichina Rhodes will compete in the 400-meter dash and the 4x400-m.
The 2015 NCAA Preliminary will begin on Thursday, May 28 and conclude on Saturday, May 30. Follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC for live updates.