Lions Finish 12th in Directors' Cup Standings
June 28, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following an outstanding 2011-12 athletic campaign, Penn State finished 12th in the final 2011-12 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Standings. The Nittany Lions earned their 14th Top 15 finish in the 19 years of Directors' Cup. Penn State is coming off a tremendous year with 19 teams represented in NCAA postseason action.
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 22 NCAA Championships since 1993-94, its first full year in the Big Ten Conference, more than double every other Big Ten institution (Iowa is second with 10). The Nittany Lions' 11 NCAA Championships since March 2007 are tied with USC for most in the nation over the past five years.
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.
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.
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.
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 is 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.
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.
Women's swimmers sophomore Mackenzie Powers (Sycamore, Ill.), senior Katie Pulos (Rosemont, Pa.), senior Erin Thomas (Bangor, Maine), who joined Pineda as a 2012 Ernest B. McCoy Award winner, and junior Paige Whitmire (Lederach, Pa.) earned first team All-Big Ten honors, helping the Nittany Lions to one of their best showings ever at the Big Ten Championships. The quartet, along with Merritt Krawczyk (Kingwood, Texas) and Chelsea Weedman (Poway, Calif.), qualified for and had a strong competition at the 2012 NCAA Championships, where the Nittany Lions finished 22nd overall, its best finish since 2006.
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.
In men's gymnastics, Penn State finished in third place at the team finals of the 2012 National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships, which were held at Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. The Nittany Lions recorded a team score of 354.800. Seven Penn State men's gymnasts, Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel), Adrian Evans (Boulder, Colo.), Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.), Nihir Kothari (Malvern, Pa.), Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.), Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, P.R.), and Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) earned All-America honors with top eight finishes in the individual finals. The seven Nittany Lion All-Americans is the most since the 1959 national championship team equaled that number.
Penn State women's gymnastics junior Sharaya Musser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) earned NACGC/W All-America status at the NCAA Championships. Musser now has six NACGC/W All-America honors for her career. Musser secured Second Team All-America status on beam and floor to bring her career honors to six. Musser was awarded First Team All-America honors on vault and in the all-around, as well as Second Team All-America laurels on beam and floor in 2010 as a freshman.
With a 3-0 sweep of Princeton in the EIVA Semifinals and a 3-1 win against George Mason in the EIVA Championship, Penn State men's volleyball won its 14th consecutive EIVA title and earned an automatic berth into the NCAA National Semifinals. Redshirt senior Joe Sunder (Greensburg, Pa.) was named a second team AVCA All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).
In women's lacrosse, Penn State finished the 2012 season with 12-7 record, earning the program's most wins since 2005 and its third consecutive double digit win season. Five of those wins came against ranked opponents, including three versus top 10 teams. Penn State excelled on the road in 2012, registering eight victories, the most by the Nittany Lions since the 1989 national championship team. Penn State received an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Championship, advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1999.
The Penn State track and field team is coming off a stellar showing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, where both Nittany Lions squads earned top 30 finishes in the team standings, led by a 21st-place effort from the men's team. The Nittany Lions were paced by a pair of fourth-place finishes, including outstanding efforts from senior Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.) and the men's 400-meter relay squad of Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), Casimir Loxman (New Haven, Conn.), and Brady Gehert (Altoona, Pa.). A total of eight Nittany Lions officially garnered United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association First Team All-America status.
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.