Nittany Lions Sit in Third Place in Current Directors' Cup Standings
April 10, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following outstanding fall and winter athletic campaigns, highlighted by an NCAA Wrestling Championship most recently, Penn State sits third in the most recent 2011-12 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Standings. Penn State is at its high-water mark in the standings this year.
Penn State will be looking for its 14th Top 15 finish in the 18-year history of the Directors' Cup, placing in the Top 25 every year, with eight Top 10 finishes. Stanford, who won its 17th consecutive Learfield Sports Directors' Cup for 2010-11, currently sits in first place. Penn State is one of four Big Ten schools that sit in the current Top 10 (Wisconsin 3rd, Minnesota 6th, Ohio State 7th).
With 11 winter NCAA championships now completed, Penn State has accumulated 655.50 total points including 391.50 points from this winter.
The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team added three new individual champions to its ledgers to complete a stellar run to the 2012 NCAA National Championship. Senior Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), sophomore David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) and sophomore Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) all claimed crowns as Penn State won its second straight NCAA team title. The Nittany Lions outdistanced second place Minnesota by 25.5 points. The Nittany Lions checked in with 143.0 points while the Gophers were second with 117.5.
Led by junior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.), the Lady Lions returned to the national stage with their first Big Ten regular-season title and NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen bid since 2003-04. Penn State, which compiled a 26-7 overall record and 13-3 mark in conference play, finished the season ranked ninth in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 11th in the AP poll.
The men's swimming team finished one of the best performances in school history at the NCAA Championships, taking 17th place overall. PSU had two All-America relays and Nate Savoy (Reading, Pa.) was an All-American. Scott Marino (Scotch Plains, N.J.) also earned honorable mention All-America honors.
The Penn State track team had an outstanding indoor season, which concluded with a second-place finish by the men's 4x400-meter relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships this past March. The Nittany Lion 4x400-meter relay team of redshirt sophomore Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), sophomore Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), junior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and sophomore Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.) ran to a second-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Nittany Lion football team finished the 2011 season with a 6-2 record in Big Ten play, earning a share of the Leaders Division title. Penn State played in its fourth consecutive New Year's Day bowl. Defensive tackle and First Team All-American Devon Still (Wilmington, Del.) had a phenomenal senior season, earning many accolades including his selection as the Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year. The Nittany Lions have a 67-23 (75.3) record since the start of the 2005 season, the nation's No. 12 winning percentage over the past seven seasons.
The women's soccer team continued its conference dominance with its 14th straight Big Ten title and 17th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) and junior Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) were named First Team and Second Team NSCAA All-Americans, respectively. Hayes, who made the trip to St. Louis as a Herman Trophy finalist, was also named the Big Ten Forward of the Year. Junior Lexi Marton (Aurora, Ontario) and senior Ali Schaefer (Henderson, Nev.) were First Team All-Big Ten picks and sophomore Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) and senior Emma Thomson (Nottinghamshire, England) were Second Team selections.
The women's volleyball team made its 31st appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2011. The Nittany Lions are one of just two programs to participate in every event since its inception in 1981. Sophomore Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) was an AVCA Second Team All-American and earned First Team All-Big Ten honors.
For the first time since 1998, head coach Charlene Morett and the Penn State field hockey team was crowned the Big Ten Tournament champions, after defeating the Michigan Wolverines on Nov. 6 in the tournament championship game. The Big Ten champion Nittany Lions finished the season with a 17-6 overall record and also earned an NCAA First Round victory over the Northeastern Huskies. In addition, junior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.), redshirt junior Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) and freshman Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) earned All-American honors.
Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) of the women's cross country team blitzed to a 16th-place finish, earning her first career All-American finish at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Lane's outstanding finish propelled the Nittany Lion women to a 13th-place finish in the team standings - the highest finish of any Big Ten program in the race, and the best effort by a Penn State women's squad since 1996. Lane, who took the Big Ten crown as well, raced to the second-best finish by a Nittany Lion woman in the NCAA era, covering the 6,000-meter course in 20:03.
Penn State is one of only nine programs nationwide that has finished in the final Top 25 in every Directors' Cup Standings, being joined by: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Southern California, Stanford, Texas and UCLA.
Penn State has won 21 NCAA Championships since 1993-94, its first full year in the Big Ten Conference, more than double every other Big Ten institution. Iowa and Minnesota are tied for second with nine. The Nittany Lions' 11 NCAA Championships since March 2007 lead the nation.
The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings were developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 20 sports -- 10 women's and 10 men's.