Nittany Lion Women Excite Home Crowd; Capture Big Ten Indoor Championship
Feb. 28, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Bolstered by dual individual wins from junior Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.), a gold-medal run in the mile by senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio), and a sizzling victory in the 4x400-meter relay, the Nittany Lion women's track and field team captured the program's second-ever Big Ten Indoor Championships victory, Sunday at Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.
"This championship is a dedication to our seniors, our leaders, and to the Penn State community and fans," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "This team is on a mission, and to be able to execute, and celebrate a championship at home like this is a testament to the tenacity of the athletes, and the tremendous coaching efforts from Coach (Chris) Johnson, Coach (Fritz) Spence, and my entire volunteer coaching staff. They are the reason this program continues to excel."
Trailing in the team standings for much of the afternoon, the Lions screamed into first place with two events remaining, thanks to a 25-point haul in the 200-meters led by a victory from Greaves. Claiming her second-career Big Ten Indoor title in the event, Greaves blitzed to a facility- and meet-record, and NCAA-automatic qualifying 22.98. Greaves' blazing one-lap effort is also the fastest in the NCAA this year. Greaves' 200 title was her second of the afternoon, after she ran away with the 60-meter crown in 7.30. The gold-medal effort was also her second-straight conference victory in the short dash. Junior Caitlin Defusco (Schwenksville, Pa.) would join Greaves on the medal stand, thanks to a personal-best and NCAA-provisional qualifying 23.67, which would hold up for third. Senior Fawn Dorr (Akron, N.Y.), and freshman Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.) also got in on the scoring action, turning in fourth and fifth-place showings, respectively, with finishing times of 23.75, and 24.19.
"Words can't even describe how excited I am," said Greaves on the team title. "I'm so excited that everyone ran so fast, and about putting the seniors in position
The same Nittany Lion quartet would also come back to cap the championship with a victory in the 4x400, running a season-best and NCAA-provisional qualifying 3:35.38, which is also a new Big Ten Championship record. The relay win is the fifth-consecutive indoor conference title for the Nittany Lions, who have won eight of the last nine 4x400s in indoor and outdoor track.
Franek mounted an impressive kick in the final lap of the mile to garner her first indoor conference victory finishing in a personal-best and Penn State record 4:37.95, bettering an outstanding field. Just over an hour later, Franek would prove her fitness, taking second in the 5000-meters, and adding another eight points to the Nittany Lion total. Franek would finish the race in 16:09.48.
"I've never heard the place so loud, and I've never been so proud to be a Penn Stater," said Franek, following her 56-lap weekend. "From start to finish, we knew we wanted it and we went out there and grabbed it. We didn't let anyone get in our way."
The Lions are saw the points roll in the 400-meters, led by a PR effort from Dorr, who clocked a sizzling 52.68 for second-place overall. Dorr's PR was not only a career best by nearly half a second, but is also the fourth-fastest performance in the NCAA this year, and just over two tenths off the NCAA automatic. Anyanwu would also turn in an impressive weekend, scoring a fifth-place finish in the 400 with a career-low and NCAA-provisional 54.25.
Also finding a spot on the medal stand was senior Brittany Maun (Greenville, Pa.), who topped out at 5-10.50 (1.79) to earn bronze-medal honors in the high jump. The senior has had an impressive showing against Big Ten competition over her career, notching scoring finishes at the conference meet (indoor and outdoor) in each of her last five attempts. The Nittany Lions also saw scoring performances in the field events from Tanaya Lloyd (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Courtney Bell (Norristown, Pa.). The sophomore duo posted sixth and seventh-place standings, respectively, with marks of 40-01.25 (12.22) and 40-00.50 (12.20) - PRs for both athletes.
With its latest team title - the second the Nittany Lions have taken indoors - the Penn State women's program has now claimed a total of five Big Ten Championships including cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field. Across the athletic department, the title marks Penn State's fourth victory in 2009-10 and 64th all-time.
"Victory is more meaningful when it's so demanding," continued Sullivan. "And the Big Ten came hungry and up until the last events, but the Nittany Lions responded and we are grateful it fell our way. We will be celebrating for a long time to come, but most importantly, we will look to get these athletes ready to continue their season at the NCAA Championships."
The Lions will have one last go-around at making the NCAA Championships, as they head into Last Chance Weekend on March 5-6, with Penn State squads traveling to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.