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Feb. 2, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: February 2, 2013 - The Nittany Lion track and field squads swept both the men's and women's team titles over outstanding competition, Saturday at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup at Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. The event also marked the inaugural "John Lucas Athlete of the Meet" award, which featured Nittany Lion winners on both the men's and women's sides, including women's winner Mahagony Jones(Cleveland, Ohio), and men's honoree Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.).
Jones tore to a pair of victories in the sprints, taking individual titles in both the 60- and 200-meters. Jones turned in a season-best 23.64 en-route to a win in the 200, which currently stands as the No. 13 performance in the NCAA this season, as well as the second-fastest time in the Big Ten. The redshirt junior would then cover the second leg on the Lions' winning 4x400-meter relay, alongside teammates Dynasty McGee (Flint, Mich.), Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname), and Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.). The squad would combine to clock 3:38.48 - the Nittany Lions' season best in the event, and the second-best performance among Big Ten competitors.
The Nittany Lion men's squad also took top honors in the 4x400 with outstanding performances from Emunael Mpanduki (Harare, Zimbabwe), Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) Matt Gilmore (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Brandon Bennett-Green (Philadelphia, Pa.). The Nittany Lions' combo of 3:08.13 currently rates seventh in the NCAA and stands as tops among conference foes.
Creese was also in top form on the afternoon, taking top honors in the 800-meters with a finishing time of 1:49.13 - the 14th-ranked time in the NCAA at press time. With Creese's effort, the Nittany Lions now hold five of the top 14 performances in the country in the event. Creese would come back to lead off the winning distance medley relay, which clocked 9:48.39, thanks to the efforts of Alex Shisler (State College, Pa.), Ryan Brennan (Chester, N.Y.), and Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.). The sophomore was also joined at the top of the heap in the 800, as teammate Za'Von Watkins(Liverpool, N.Y.) took second in the half mile at 1:49.41.
The award was named after Dr. John Lucas, who was a long-time professor at Penn State University, and former Nittany Lion men's coach. Lucas, who was also one of the world's most respected Olympic historians, passed away in November of 2012.
The Nittany Lions ran away from the field in team scoring , as the Nittany Lion women scored 177.50 for first place, well ahead of second-place Princeton with 86 points. Virginia took third in the women's standings with 76, followed by South Florida and Jacksonville, with 65.50, and 61 points - good for fourth and fifth, respectively.
Also highlighting the day's events was volunteer assistant and 2012 Olympian Ryan Whiting, who tossed a facility record and world-leading 70-10 (21.59) in the "invitational" shot put. Whiting, who is the first may to ever better the 70-foot barrier in Ashenfelter Track, was competing alongside veterans from the Wounded Warrier Project as part of Military Appreciation Day.
Sykes & Sabock also marked another Penn State first as the Nittany Lions hosted the first-ever indoor 2000-meter steeplechase. Senior Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) took top honors in the women's event, running 6:29.38 in what will be consider a new school and facility record.
Penn State was also on fire in the field events, led by junior Marlene Ricketts (Westbury, N.Y), who took top honors in the women's triple jump, in addition to a second-place standing in the long jump. Ricketts was tops in the triple jump going 41-9.25 (12.74) to edge the second-place competitor by less than two inches. She would also turn in a season-best long jump of 19-2.50 (5.85) - good for second place in the event. Teammate Brittney Howell(Wyncote, Pa.) followed in third in the long jump, posting a leap of 18-10.75 (5.76).
Sophomore Brian Leap(Bellwood, Pa.) was just as productive in the men's horizontals, taking the men's triple jump with an effort of 50-7.25 (15.42). Leap also turned in a fourth-place finish in the long jump on the afternoon.
Also in the field, the Lions would take several event titles in the throws behind victories from Jane Swenson (Brandon, S.D.), Melissa Kurzdorfer(Lancaster, N.Y.), and Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio). Swenson maxed out at an indoor PR toss of 51-7.25 (15.73) to win the shot put title, bettering the rest of the field by over three feet. Swenson's mark is also the fourth-best effort in the Penn State record books.
The Nittany Lions put two in the top three in the men's 35-lb weight with Barr bringing home the event title with a toss of 66-5 (20.24). Nabil Mubarak(Loganville, Ga.) wasn't far behind, finishing third overall with an effort of 64-8.75 (19.73). Kurzdorfer gave the Lions' the double victory in the weight, taking the women's 20-lb competition with a personal-best 64-11.50 (19.80).
Back on the track, the Nittany Lions enjoyed stellar performances in both the men's and women's mile run, as Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) turned in runner-up honors in the women's race, via a PR 4:50.81. Tyler Corkedale(West Windsor, N.J.) was the top finisher in the men's mile, clocking a PR 4:05.13, for third overall.
Sophomore Sancho Barrett(Amityville, N.Y.) also added a win on the track, taking the men's 60-meter hurdles in a PR 7.95.
Penn State will split squads next weekend, traveling to the Husky Classic at the University of Washington and the NCAA Division I Invitational at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Both competitions are slated for February 8-9.