Skip to main content Skip to footer

Recently in Track & Field Category

By Megan Osborne, Student-Athlete Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend was a rolling start into what Penn State Track and Field considers championship season! Finally being scored overall as a collective group helped us visualize where we stand and what we need to do to accomplish our goal of being B1G champions on both the men and women sides, and I don't doubt that this is obtainable. 

We had great performances from all side, the track, the field, the men and the women. Our throws program has yet again to shown a quality weekend, holding it down in the ring and our middle distance once again lived up to their name!

The energy was great within the building, starting the second day off with honoring our prestigious seniors that have left their make on and off the track and ending with a season best in the 4x4 women's relay, with the team curved around the bank showing their team spirit!

I believe that we are off to a great rest of the season and ready for weeks to come. Its been fun run in Happy Valley, with the fans behind our back but we're ready to take on the competition from all over the country in Arkansas, Seattle and Ohio. 


By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Confidence is key and the Nittany Lions proved it this past weekend when the track and field team won a total of ten events and took home the winning title at the Sykes and Sabock Challenge Cup.

This team has done a great job this year showing improved performances every meet especially from experienced student-athletes that continuously show consistency.

Robby Creese demonstrated the product of hard work when he ran an exciting 3:57.86 mile, a meet record, the fourth best time in the NCAA, and arguable the highlight of the two-day event.

"I know he can do that because he's done it before. It's not easy running that fast when you're that far in front in the last 600-meters. It was an impressive run and, I believe, the fastest actual timed run in the NCAA this year," said head coach John Gondak.

Dependable stand outs like Rachel Fatherly (shot put), Darrell Hill (shot put), Brian Leap (long jump), and the women of the 4x400-meter relay, performed excellently and won their respective events to help the men's and women's team finish strongly on top.

"[The consistency] is a sign of maturely for these athletes," said Gondak. "They have confidence and an understanding for what they need to do to lead this team. It's a great that you have a group of individuals...guys that you can count on week in and week out to get the job done."

Along with the stability of the team's top performers, there are student-athletes that prove themselves day in and day out during practice and constantly improve when they're called up to the line.

Robert Rhodes, a junior transfer, has been quietly winning or showing quality performances all year as a part of the men's 600-meter run and the distance medley relay.

"I'm feeling good after today. I'm taking the right steps in the right direction to where I want to be by the end of the season," said Rhodes. "I just want to contribute to the team as much as possible and I'm appreciating the little things."

Freshman Xavier Smith is having a breakout year placing in almost every event he participates in. Smith's competitive edge has become one of the most motivating aspects of the team.

"Some of the younger kids...they need to not just rely [on the upperclassmen]. What they do is just as important and that was one of the emphasis for this meet and I think they did very well," said Gondak.

In addition to the excitement of excellent performances came the celebration of the team's seniors. Seventeen student-athletes were honored on Saturday morning for their dedication and commitment to the program.

But, the nostalgia will be put on hold for right now as the team prepares to enter its first away meet weekend of the year.

Three groups of athletes will head out to three different cities, Seattle, Washington; Geneva, Ohio; and Fayetteville, Arkansas to represent the blue and white next weekend.

"Three great places to go race next weekend. It's always a little nerve-wracking when you go on the road for the first time because you're out of your element but it's something we need to do to," said Gondak.

"We have a group of upperclassmen that will be great leaders and will help us accomplish what we need to accomplish next week."

By Dannielle Gibson, Student-Athlete Writer
If you thought for one second that things could not have gotten any better for Penn state track and field, well think again! 

This past weekend, at the Penn State National, was a true testimony of how Penn State pride and spirit and can truly bring out the competitive drive in you. The momentum from our two prior meets' excellent performances propelled us in this weekend and all I can say is "PR's PR's PR's"!

All across the board records were broken, seasons best and personal best were made; starting on Friday with the woman's weight throws, the 200m sprints, and then on Saturday with the men's and women's triple jumps, the women's pole vault, the men's shot put, and the 800m distances. This meet not only proved to others that we are force to be reckoned with, but displayed the strength of our bond and family-hood. 

Leading up to meet day, practice itself had a very focused and determined aura around it. Although we spent our last night with our specific event groups dining and enjoying a meal, as always, we came together and initiated our competition day with a team cheer. During, the meet we set aside time to honor and congratulate our women's team for their 2014 indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championship awards. Then, of course, we continued with our record-breaking times and distances. This season has the potential to be a very prosperous one and is in contention to be the best one to come!  

We Are...Penn State!   

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a weekend for the books at the Penn State National meet - literally.

On both the track and the field, the Nittany Lions tallied dozens of personal records, a school record, and displayed their best performances of the season.

"The energy our team had to today and the excitement was unlike anything I've experienced in my nine years here. It was a phenomenal weekend. There was so much energy in this building and excitement with our program," said head coach John Gondak.

Day one of the two-day meet got the ball rolling.

All four women shot putters tallied personal records. Rachel Fatherly set a personal record in the weight throw at 67-5.25 ft. She is now top-15 in the nation and top three at Penn State.

The distance medley relay made up of Za'Von Watkins, Brannon Kidder, Robby Creese, and Robert Rhodes was as thrilling as expected. The crowd roared louder every lap and the men finished the relay in
9:28.36, the second best time in the country.

The team's drive did not let down going into day two.

Darrell Hill was outstanding. He took home first place in the shot put with a school record-breaking 67-3 throw.

"Today was...good, today was good. I wanted to go after it. Had some pretty good throws," said Hill. "It's always exciting to get a personal and school record."

The field was thrilling this weekend as Brian Leap and Dannielle Gibson won the men's (
52-3.75) and women's (40-7.75) triple jump, respectively.

On the track, Brannon Kidder and the women of the 4x400-meter relay stole the show.

In the 800-meter run, Kidder the final lap in third place and then kicked up the intensity to win it all with a time of
1:47.86, the third best time in the country.

"For this race I just wanted to go into it and have fun," said Kidder. "Instead of trying to go for it all at the beginning I just kind of hung back and it all worked out."

Kiah Seymour, Dynasty McGee, Tichina Rhodes, and Megan Osborne dominated the 4x400-meter relay with a spectacular
3:40.43 time, almost five seconds faster than the second place team.

"[Winning] was a great feelings especially hearing our teammates cheering for us on the backstretch," said Seymour. "I felt good, it felt good and I wanted to kick it in so our team could have a good time."

It was a fantastic weekend at the Penn State National meet, as expected, yet, there is so much more to come.

"I implore the team to carry this energy on and as we move into February," said Gondak. "I almost get sad when this meet is over with because it's my favorite meet of the year and we had some great things happen today. It was a lot of fun."

Next weekend the Nittany Lions will host the Sykes and Sabock Challenge, the first scored meet of the year, beginning on Friday and continuing through Saturday.

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A dynamic tradition will continue this weekend when Penn State track and field hosts the much anticipated Penn State National meet, which is set to bring in 27 teams from all over the country to one of the loudest, most energetic atmospheres to date.

The meet has a tendency of bringing out the very best in all athletes and it upholds a tradition of record-breaking, crowd-pumping racing.

"This has traditionally been a meet that has teams from all around the east coast, if not from around the country, because they know we have a fast track here and they want to put up some good marks for their National qualifying spots," said head coach John Gondak.

In last year's meet, the Penn State men broke the facility, meet, and university record in the distance medley relay with a time of 9:26.59.

Additionally, fans saw student-athletes shatter their personal records like Robert Cardina in the heptathlon, Rachel Fatherly in the weight throw, Steve Waithe and Brain Leap in the long jump, and Brannon Kidder was the only athlete from any school to run a mile in under four minutes.

By now, the 2015 Nittany Lions are on full speed, fully healthy and with eyes on the prize. This weekend hopes to be the most competitive to date.

"You're getting to the point in the season now where we've been practicing for four weeks since the break and we're getting close to championship time and everyone is going to start to be in that peak shape...that top shape where they can really put on top performances," said Gondak.

With all the excitement going on, however, the Nittany Lions look to stick with their usual plan - come and conquer.

"The indoor track atmosphere is unlike any other," said Gondak. "People come here and look to be the best they can be," said Gondak. "There's really not one specific event [that I'm most excited about]. The good thing about our team is that we're competitive in all of the event areas. There are so many great races this weekend and so many great field events. I'm excited for it all."

The meet takes place over the span of two days because of the size of the competition so fans, which will be gifted over 500 cowbells for their attendance, are in for an entire weekend of excitement.

"This meet is on the larger side so, logistically, we need to put it over two days. On Friday, we have a handful of field events. We do the sprints, the distance medley, and the 5000m [race]. Then Saturday, [we have] all the open races, said Gondak. It allows for simulating what the Conference meet is going to be like where it's a two-day competition."

The excitement kicks off Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most students pack their bags and hit the open road for a few hundred miles directly to Happy Valley knowing that their families and friends are far enough away that they won't bug them on the weekends but close enough for when they get homesick.

Other students, however, are hungry for opportunities that they may not find only a few hundred miles from home so, they choose to go beyond the borders of their comfort zones and travel thousands of miles to chase adventures and experiences.
sat down with three track and field student-athletes to talk about their time in the United States and at Penn State.

Freshman Jordan Makins wandered just over 10,000 miles away from his family and friends in Perth, Australia to join the Nittany Lions.

Freshman Obeng Marfo comes to State College from the neighbors up north in Ontario, Canada and senior Annjulie Vester flew across the sea all the way from Homburg, Germany.

GoPSU: What were the reactions of your friends and family when you told them you were going to the United States to be a student-athlete?

Makins: Well, a lot of people said 'You're really not going to do that, you're just talking about it'. It's a pretty big move to make and to get the whole thing set up from 10,000 miles away. There was definitely a little bit of awe - they told me it was all a big dream.

Vester: My friends were really excited and super supportive actually more than my family. My mom and my dad were saying, 'this is a big dream, you don't know how things [work in America]'. For me, it's 4,000 miles. You can't really grasp that. They've never been here. They've just seen New York on TV. I just pushed through and they all got really excited once it all started happening and once I got here and now they're super supportive.

Marfo: All my friends and family were really supportive. My school made a big deal about signing day and the letter of the intent. They had the news come in and everything.

GoPSU: What was the first thing you thought when you realized you were really coming to Penn State?

Makins: The first thing I though was 'I don't have nearly enough winter gear'. I thought it was going to snow the first month I was here - I was really nervous! I panicked a little and bought a lot of stuff.

Vester: I thought I was going to get fat but, luckily, I didn't. I usually cook at home [back in Germany] and you don't go out to eat a lot. I wasn't used to all this massive food and all the fat.

Marfo: Yeah, I thought I was going to get fat too. My brothers were teasing me about it saying, 'don't get fat. Don't eat this and that.'

GoPSU: At what moment did it finally hit you that you were really in America?

Makins: Two things for me. One is that it is incredibly green. Back home it's dry and [looks like a] dessert so it was an awesome experience to see all the forestry. The other thing was the first month we were eating out everyday and all the places had burgers and chips. The burgers with no vegetables...I struggled. I felt so unhealthy for a while.

Vester: When I was in Virginia and I was touring a campus in a car, I looked around and it looked like Hogwarts! It was just so beautiful.

Marfo: Well, for me, I've been to America many times but I remember one day I went to Wal-Mart with my family. It felt like a regular Wal-Mart, it wasn't any different than in Canada but I asked one of the ladies [that was working] for Christmas lights. She told me they didn't have any so I said, 'okay, thank you'. I said thank you and she responded with 'mhm'! So, that's when I thought, 'Yeah, only in America'. In Canada, everyone always says 'you're welcome' or 'no problem'. Never 'mhm'! I was so hurt that whole day.

What has been your favorite part of being on the team at Penn State?

Vester: The new people and I love that the team is so close. We have so many team meetings and they really want us to participate as a team. That's what I really liked. I feel comfortable going to practice because it's like a little family.

Makins: I'd say that was the most exciting moment for me [too]. The team and how welcoming they were. Looking into the roster was a big deal for me for which school I'd pick and Penn State's middle distance roster was something I wanted to fit into. It feels like home. also caught up with assistant coach Ryan Foster who came to Penn State from Tasmania, Australia a few years ago to join the program as a student-athlete and has remained in the State College area ever since.

GoPSU: What were some of the most shocking things you remember about first arriving to the United States and to Penn State?

Foster: There was a bit of culture shock coming from another country. The collegiate athletic scene is pretty foreign.  Americans like to call everybody coach. It's always 'coach' and when I got here I always said 'Oh, John,' so it was something I had to get used to and get out of that habit. People made fun of me for a while.

GoPSU: Do you ever consider those feelings when working with students like Jordan, Annjulie, and Obeng?

Foster: I definitely think about having been through it. There's a difference between being 100 miles from home like a lot of the freshman are versus being 10,000 miles from home. A lot of the different things these student athletes deal with, I have a pretty good perspective on. You cannot just call your parents whenever you want to. Being an international student-athlete is different because you don't have the same support network. I competed at Penn State for three years and my parents never saw me compete once in the States. Every time you compete, you're pretty much on your own.

GoPSU: So, what made it easier for you to deal with the circumstances?

Foster: Penn State does a really good job of making everybody feel included. I've been here so long, I don't even think about [being foreign] often [anymore].

By Darrell Hill, Student-Athlete Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The rust is off and just like that we're off to our second track meet of the season. Coming off of last weeks Penn State Relays I felt like our team had a strong showing and showed a lot more confidence than this point last year. This weeks practice was a lot more upbeat and the team really seemed to be very dialed in spite of starting our first week of spring semester classes. Pre-meet preparation was capped off by a wonderful team dinner prepared by Rotelli's. It was great to sit down and eat with the team and coaches and take our mind off the meet for a while and really enjoy each other's company.

The atmosphere on meet day here at Penn State is always great. We've practiced against each other for so long that anytime we can get a couple teams in here to compete with the intensity is always high and leads to great performances. We had a number of huge performances this past weekend but our triple jumpers Steve Waithe and Brian Leap really led the way. As I was warming up for the shot put I happened to look over and see Steve jump 52ft on his first jump, and at that point I knew exactly what type of day this was going to be. 

This week off will be great for training and to get some people healthy, but I cannot wait for Penn State National for another opportunity to wear the Blue & White! Go State. 

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In their season opener last weekend, the Nittany Lions sent a huge message to fans and rivals; this season they're coming, they're looking, and they're conquering.

Penn State spent the week fine-tuning and dusting off in preparation for the Nittany Lion Challenge, which will look to bring six schools to Happy Valley including powerhouses Georgetown and the University of Miami on Saturday.

"We have another group of six teams coming in this weekend that are excited to be here and we're excited to have," said head coach John Gondak. "Last weekend showed a lot of our student-athletes are ready to accomplish some big things so we're going be to be going after some good marks this weekend."

"It's Our House"

Home facility advantage will be one of the best parts of this weekend's challenge (and of the indoor season).

There's something about being in a routine and a familiar environment that brings out the best in an athlete and the Nittany Lions aren't taking that for granted as their feeding off of the energy one event and one fan at a time.

"It's a cliche that 'it's our house' but that's how they look at this and they don't want people to come in here and beat them. They feed off of it a lot," said assistant coach Randy Bungard. "The stands are packed so there's a lot of energy and the video board going. Plus, when you travel you might take 30 guys and 30 girls but when you're here, even people that aren't traveling are here to cheer. So when you're here you have a huge fan [advantage]."

The sprints group is especially excited to see some tough sprints competition as some of their core runners are healthy and ready to race.

"The sprint group is excited about [it]. Miami always brings good sprinters - they're chomping at the bit especially Kiah [Seymour], Quenee [Dale] because they were held out. They're ready to get racing," said Bungard. "The sprints group was a very big part of our Big Ten and National Championship success last year and they just need to keep it going."

Consistency is Key

Several Nittany Lions had huge showings at the Penn State Relays and consistency will be key as they look into Saturday's challenge.

The throws group has hungry competitors including Darrell Hill and Rachel Fatherly who will be key leaders as they move forward.

"We have some good energy in the throws group right now. We had some ups and downs but Rachel [Fatherly] who sits eighth in the country and Darrell [Hill] who's first in the nation will definitely propel [the team's] confidence levels. As a group hopefully everyone can feed off of that," said assistant coach Patrick Ebel.

The team's pole-vaulters and jumpers are doing big things as well and will look to close some gaps within their group in order to be one of the most prominent powerhouse teams.

"What we got out of [last] meet is that we can be better. We have some nagging little injuries. We're looking to do something big this weekend and show what we have here. I think we have a lot of talent," said assistant coach Kevin Kelly. "We're fine tuning stuff this week. We're trying to have high quality practices."

We Are...Pitbulls

The second competition will, hopefully, be an even better one for the Nittany Lions as the team gets electrified to win.

There's no doubt that the universities coming in this weekend will experience a huge competitive atmosphere paired with healthy and determined athletes.

Of their eventful week of preparations, however, Penn State wants the competition to know only one thing.

Whoever comes in here, we're going to go after them," said Bungard. "We are pitbulls. We're going to go after you and if we're not wining, we're going to push you to a PR (personal record) and we're going to make you run hard."

The Nittany Lion Challenge kicks off Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.    

By Joey Logue, Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The indoor season has officially begun for the Nittany Lions. This past weekend was the first time I was able to compete in the Penn State uniform. I had been waiting for this moment since I signed my letter of intent a year ago. This first meet was a solid opener for myself, and the rest of the middle distance men. We stacked two 4x800m relays and I know most of us surprised ourselves with how fast we ran individually and as teams. It is unbelievable that we had two teams under 7:30 and it is the first meet of the year. The work we put in all fall is now starting to show.

The atmosphere in the Ashenfelter Indoor Track on a meet day is like none other in the country. Every team member is there in support of one another. As soon as the 4x4 ended, it was awesome to see everyone who lined the track for that race go over to the shot put and watch Darrell do his thing and set the school record.

The Penn State relays were a great first experience for me and I am excited for these upcoming meets. I know Coach Gondak will prepare us to run fast and compete with the best. I am loving the process!

By Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Darrell Hill broke a school record and several young Nittany Lions performed excellently for Penn State as the track and field team officially kicked off the 2015 season in front of a packed, energetic crowd at the Ashenfelter III Indoor Track on Saturday.

Hill stole the show with his 66-2.50 shot put throw that set him at the top of the Penn State record book and at first place for the meet.

"I was actually a little surprised that it happened today," said Hill. "I just wanted to have a good meet. I was just feeling good going into the competition and as [it] started going it was in the back of my mind and I just went for it."

And this is just the beginning.

"No one can have higher expectations for me than I have for myself. I don't look at today as a higher expectation for myself, I look at it as a good start, a good building block and we just have to keep working and move forward," he said.

Underclassmen stepped up to the plate for the Nittany Lions this weekend, as well.

Freshman Xavier Smith impressed showing confidence as he finished third in the 200-meter dash (21.69) and 60-meter dash (6.88).

Megan Osborne had a phenomenal outing finishing first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.55, a personal best for the sophomore.

"It came naturally, I was planning on doing that. I'm happy with it. I executed well," said Osborne. "I think this sets a good tone. I can only get better from here. There's still progress and there's still things I can fix but it's a positive tone for the rest of the season."

Sophomore Dannielle Gibson won the long jump - 19-3.50 starting the season well building a powerful foundation for meets to come.

"For the first meet, it's a good start [and] something to feed off of. Personally I don't think it was good enough but it's definitely giving me somewhere to start," said Gibson. "[Now] I know how much work I need to put in."

Sophomore Lexi Masterson looked focused and comfortable as she broke the meet record in the pole vault with a jump height of 12-10.25, which she says is routine at this point.

"Twelve-ten is something I know I can be at and I know I can beat and I'm glad I got a chance to take on the record," said Masterson. "I'm going to keep taking a shot at the school record."

The much anticipated 4x800-meter relay between the Penn State and Princeton men was a highlight of the meet. Team A made up of freshman Jordan Makins, senior Ryan Brennan, junior Brannon Kidder, and senior Robby Creese, set a meet record of 7.22.10.

The men's team chemistry is evident in their efforts and achievements.

"It's always good to be out here with the team and we were able to put together to quality 4x800 [meter relays]," said Kidder. "We're off to a good's a rust-buster."

"The most important highlight of the night was Hill. He broke the school record and that's what we're going to base out energy of off," said Brennan.

Penn State had a fierce start to its year but the Nittany Lions are nowhere near satisfied. They're officially in competition mode and show no signs of backing down as they attack competitors to come. 

"It was a phenomenal setting today with the packed stands and Flotrack here live streaming and great competition. It was 10 degrees outside but it was red hot in here as we got the season underway," said Head coach John Gondak. "We had some great things happen today but it's a long season and we have many more meets to go and this was just the start of things."

The Blue and White will compete again on Saturday, January 17 when they host the Nittany Lion Challenge at the Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.


  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago