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The 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece will take place August 13-29.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.; August 11, 2004 - Penn State Athletics is represented by nine current or former student-athletes and coaches at the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad. The world's premier athletes are competing in Athens, Greece August 13-29.
Other Penn State students, alumni and faculty members are also among the participants at the Summer Games, which commenced with the Opening Ceremonies on August 13.
One current and five former Penn State student-athletes will compete before closing ceremonies: junior Luis Vargas (gymnastics, Puerto Rico); Eugene Botes (swimming, South Africa); Ramon Hernandez (beach volleyball, Puerto Rico); Kerry McCoy (wrestling, United States); Connie Moore (Athletics, United States) and Jeff Hantz (Athletics, United States), who will compete in the Paralympics in September in Athens.
One current and two former Penn State coaches will serve on the U.S. Olympic Team coaching staff: Beth Alford-Sullivan, Penn State women's track and field and cross country coach is coaching the middle distance runners and former women's track and field assistant coach Jeri Daniels-Elder is working with the throwers. Former PSU women's track and field and cross country head coach Teri Jordan is an assistant coach for the U.S. Paralympic track and field squad.
In addition, John Lucas, Penn State professor emeritus of Exercise and Sport Science and a world renowned Olympic Games historian, is attending the competition. Lucas was head coach of the Penn State men's cross country and track teams from 1962-68. And Matt Cramer, a 1998 Penn State graduate, is serving as the National Mountain Bike Coach for the U.S. Cycle team.
Below please find biographical information on the nine athletes or coaches with ties to Penn State Athletics who will be in Athens:
Botes is the first Nittany Lion male swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. He was one of seven South African qualifiers in swimming and he is the first Penn State swimmer or diver to qualify for the Olympics since diver Mary Ellen Clark won bronze medals in 1992 and 1996. Botes earned his Olympic berth when he competed in the World Championships and the World University Games following his senior season as a Nittany Lion in 2003, when he served as team captain.
Botes won the 100 butterfly at the 2003 U.S. Swimming Nationals in :53.20, becoming Penn State's first-ever national champion in the process. His time in the 100 butterfly also established a South African national record and an African Continental mark. Botes was ranked as high as 22nd in the world in the 100 butterfly in 2003. He holds two Penn State school records, the 100 freestyle (:42.90) and the 100 butterfly (:47.01, twice).
Olympic swimming competition begins August 14.
Ramon Hernandez, Beach Volleyball, Puerto Rico Hernandez, a 1994 Penn State graduate, will compete for his native Puerto Rico in beach volleyball at the Olympic Games. Hernandez, a three-time All-America honoree, was named the Most Outstanding Player in leading the Nittany Lions to the 1994 NCAA Championship. He ranks first all-time in every Nittany Lion blocking category and third all-time in kills (1,693). Hernandez has played in 22 beach volleyball tournaments over the last two seasons, earning as high a ranking as ninth earlier this year.
He and his partner, Perez Papaleo, will be playing in Pool D in the Olympic Games, competing against teams from Germany, Norway and Sweden in the first rounds of competition, starting August 24.
Kerry McCoy, Wrestling, United States
McCoy is among the gold medal favorites in freestyle wrestling in the 264.5-pound weight class. The five-time defending U.S. champion, he will be making his second Olympic appearance after finishing fifth in the 2000 Games in Sydney. A two-time NCAA Champion at Penn State, McCoy has dominated his weight class in national competition since 2000 and brought home a silver medal from the World Championships and gold from the Pan Am Championships in 2003. The Middle Island, N.Y. product is a 1997 Penn State graduate.
Picked for the silver medal in Sports Illustrated's recent Olympic preview edition, McCoy will begin competition on August 27. Olympic wrestling competition begins with a round of pool elimination in which the field of 20 wrestlers is divided into pools via a blind draw. Wrestlers face every man in their pool with the winners advancing. The semifinal competition and the medal matches will be held on Aug. 28 in the Ano Liossia Olympic Hall.
Connie Moore, Track & Field, United States
Moore, an 11-time All-American and eight-time Big Ten champion at Penn State, was selected for the six-member U.S. women's 4x100-meter relay pool after finishing fifth in the 200 meters (:22.65) and advancing to the semifinals in the 100 meters (:11.60) at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. The Chicago standout is the first Penn State female track and field athlete to be selected to the United States Olympic Team.
The top three finishers in the 100 meters at the U.S. Trials were automatically included in the pool and Moore, who graduated in May, was one of three athletes added to complete the pool for the Athens Games. Any member of the U.S. Track and Field Team can be selected to compete on the relay team during the many preliminary and medal rounds at the games.
Olympic track and field competition begins on Aug. 18. The women's 4x100-meter relay will be contested Aug. 26-27.
Luis Vargas, Gymnastics, Puerto Rico
Luis Vargas (Rio Pedros, P.R.) will compete in the Olympics for his native Puerto Rico. Vargas will be the sole gymnast representing his country after earning a wild card spot in the games for his outstanding performance in international competitions proceeding the Olympics.
As a sophomore this past season, Vargas became Penn State's first NCAA all-around champion since 1973 while helping boost the Nittany Lions to the 2004 NCAA Championship. Named Penn State's Most Valuable Gymnast this past season, Vargas also made the finals in three other individual events at the NCAA Championships, tying for second on the pommel horse, and placing sixth on the high bar and fourth on the parallel bars. An All-Big Ten selection for the second consecutive year, he placed third overall on the high bar with a 9.475 and was second with a career-high 9.550 on the parallel bars during the team finals at the Big Ten championships.
Vargas was a silver medalist at last summer's Pan-Am games on the pommel horse. Olympic gymnastics competition begins August 14.
Beth Alford-Sullivan, Women's Track & Field Assistant Coach, United States
Alford-Sullivan, who will begin her sixth season as head coach of the Nittany Lion women's cross country and track and field teams this fall, will be taking on her fifth international coaching assignment for the USA Track and Field Team as a member of the U.S. Olympic coaching staff in Athens. She previously was an assistant on both the 2001 and 2003 World Championship teams.
Named the 2004 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year after leading Penn State to its first-ever Big Ten title in track and field during the 2004 indoor season, Sullivan will guide the U.S. middle distance runners in competition that begins Aug. 18. Sullivan, a recipient of 12 Coach of the Year honors in her career, has taken the Penn State program to unprecedented heights with best ever Big Ten indoor (1st) and outdoor (2nd) finishes and NCAA Championship indoor (13th) and outdoor placings (10th).
Jeri Daniels-Elder, Women's Track & Field Assistant Coach, United States
Daniels-Elder is coaching the United States'female throwers in Athens. She was a full-time assistant coach with the Penn State women's track and field program from 1984-94 and served a volunteer coach with the Nittany Lions through the 2002-03 academic year. Daniels-Elder also has served as the USA Track and Field Development Coordinator for the hammer throw.
Teri Jordan, Paralympics Track & Field Assistant Coach, United States
Jordan served as head coach of the Penn State women's track and field and cross country program from 1984-2000 and has numerous international coaching experiences. She serves as Penn State's Coordinator of Ability Athletics and has worked closely with Jeff Hantz. Jordan was named Eastern Track Coach of the Year three times and led Penn State to four ECAC Outdoor Track titles. Her 1989 indoor squad won the ECAC Championship and was ranked No. 1 in the East. A past president of the NCAA Cross Country Coaches' Association, Jordan served as head coach of the U.S. World Championship cross country team in 1999.
Jeff Hantz, Paralympics Track & Field, United States
Hantz (Latrobe) earned his Paralympic berth by breaking the U.S. record in the discus during a meet in May. He is ranked second in the world in the discus and fifth in the javelin. A recent Penn State graduate, Hantz won a pair of bronze medals in the javelin and shot put at the 2003 World Wheelchair Championships. He will compete at the Paralympics in Athens in late September.