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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Penn State concluded the 2018 NCAA indoor season with a top-10 finish by the Nittany Lion men's team, including a national champion by David Lucas, and a runner-up finish by Isaiah Harris, as well as Danae Rivers earning All-American status in the 800-meters for the women's team.
"It was another weekend of excellent track & field for Penn State here at Texas A&M," said head coach John Gondak.
"Texas A&M is always a great host for the national championships so we were excited for the group that we brought here. On the women's side, we brought two women and both ended up All-American which is outstanding, continuing the streak of scoring points at the national championships indoor for the women's program. I'm very happy with Maddie and Danae's performances this weekend. On the men's side, the group came down here with a goal of finishing top-10 and we did, finishing 10th-place as a team with our first national champion since 1990 and Isaiah [Harris] finishing runner-up in the 800-meters. It was an outstanding weekend, I believe it was our second-best finish at the national championships which is something to build on as we head into the outdoor season," Gondak added.
David Lucas became the first men's track & field athlete at Penn State since C.J. Hunter in 1990 to stand atop the podium at the NCAA Indoor Championships as he captured the weight throw title in historic fashion Saturday afternoon. The sophomore from Lititz, Pa. by way of Warwick High School improved on every throw of the competition barring his final throw that was his first scratch of the competition. Lucas' progression of 21.56m (70'-9"), 22.29m (73'-1.75"), 22.84m (74'-11.25"), 23.02m (75'-6.25"), 24.02m (78'-9.75") saw his best throw serve as a new school record, a new facility record, the fourth-best mark in NCAA meet history and established the Bio Behavioral Health major as the NCAA Champion, besting the runner-up in the event by over three feet.
"We knew we had big throws in him," said Penn State throws coach Lucais MacKay. "It's really awesome that he did it at a big meet. He's been to nationals twice in the discus and had some hiccups, so for him to come here and do this is outstanding! We talked about him having a young mind in the weight throw because he's learning things from scratch. He had one good year with Coach [Pat] Ebel, and then we really kind of reset the wheels and got things going last year, he did well, threw 20-meters and now things have kind of just gone off the rails this year. He learned to compete which is a tangible factor and he did that today which is super cool, I'm really proud of him," MacKay finished.
"It only takes one throw to put it out there," said David Lucas. "Coach Gondak has preached this the entire year that `if you go out and do what you did to get here, you're going to walk away happy'. So, I came in today with that mindset and did what I knew how to do and trusted it and a personal best happened," Lucas finished.
Morgan Shigo competed in the men's weight throw alongside the 2018 NCAA Champion Lucas. Shigo, a junior from Blandon, Pa, finished the meet as a second-team All-American in 10th-place with a day's best of 20.87m (68'-5.75") in the competition.
Isaiah Harris, as mentioned previously, grabbed an NCAA runner-up finish in the 800-meters tying for the highest finish in program history with Casimir Loxsom who was runner-up at the 2013 indoor meet. Harris' time is a new program record-smashing his mark of 1:46.24 from his first Big Ten Indoor title back in 2016. Harris has now earned four All-American honors in the 800-meters between indoor and outdoor combined.
"I'm happy with my performance today, it was a PR, a big PR," said Harris. "Overall it was a good day, [Michael] Saruni is just good!" Harris finished.
The next event on the track for Penn State was the women's 800-meters where sophomore Danae Rivers brought home All-American honors with a seventh-place finish. Rivers, school record holder in the event both indoor and outdoor, crossed the line in 2:04.20 to tie for the highest finish in the NCAA era with Briene Simmons who took seventh-place in 2007.
"I'm proud of myself that I made it through the season through my ups and downs and my minor injuries," said Rivers. "Overall, I can't be upset, I'm an All-American and you move on with that. Just use that as a base to keep climbing higher," Rivers continued.
Bryce Williams finished 15th in the men's triple jump competition ending the meet with a best mark of 15.43m (50'-7.50"). The senior from State College, Pa. earns second-team All-American honors in the event and has competed in two straight NCAA meets dating back to last year's outdoor meet in Eugene, Ore.
The men's 4x400-meter relay team of Dan Chisena, Xavier Smith, Kier Miner and Isaiah Harris combined to run 3:07.11 in the event but were unfortunately disqualified for taking multiple steps on the line during the race. This is the second-straight season that Penn State has qualified a 4x400-meter relay for the NCAA Championships and the third-straight including outdoor season from last year.
This concludes the NCAA indoor season, Penn State will open the 2018 outdoor season at the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge Mar. 23-24 in Tempe, Ariz.
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