Men's 4x800-Meter Relay Nabs Penn Relays Title
April 29, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa.: April 28, 2012 - Brought home by a stunning finishing kick by freshman Robby Creese (Mt. Airy, Md.), the Nittany Lions - including senior Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), freshman Ryan Brennan (Chester, N.Y.) and junior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) - added more hardware to the trophy case, winning the 4x800-meter relay at the historic Penn Relays Carnival, Saturday at Franklin Field. The success continued in the men's 4x400-meter relay, with sophomore Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), freshman Matt Gilmore (Elkins Park, Pa.), sophomore Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.), and sophomore Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) placing second in the "Championship of America", via a school-record 3:04.78. With the pair of top finishes, the Nittany Lions were named "Power 99" School of the Day for the Saturday session.
The Nittany Lions enjoyed a sensational three days at Penn Relays, including Championship of America relay victories from the men's 4x800, and men's sprint medley, to go along with individual championship showings from Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.) in the men's shot put, Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.) in the women's javelin, and Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) in the women's hammer.
"This was an outstanding Penn Relays for the Nittany Lions," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We set multiple school records, and were able to bring home two wheels and five overall champions, which is as good a weekend as any program in the meet. The representation from field to track showed that our program is developing and growing to higher and higher levels."
Creese's sizzling anchor - which broke the tape in 7:19.76 - put a stamp on Penn State's sixth Penn Relays victory in the 4x800, and the first since 1987. Dawson led off the effort, bringing the stick around in the front of the pack, thanks to a split of 1:50.8. Brennan, who also turned in readout of 1:50.8, then kept the Lions within striking distance, passing several foes down the homestretch to handoff with Texas A&M holding a comfortable lead. Loxsom bided his time, slowly reeling in the Aggie's third leg - coming from fifth to first over his 800 - to split 1:49.3 and give Creese a lead going into the anchor. Creese then battled within a pack of five, including Texas A&M, Villanova, Columbia, and Oregon on the final carry, but turned on the jets to take the lead going into the bell lap. With Oregon's Elijah Greer closing in on him in the last 100-meters, the freshman managed to find another gear and pulled away from the Duck in the final strides, to finish of a 1:48.9 split, and close out the Lion victory.
The momentum of the victory carried into the 4x400, as the Nittany Lions shaved nearly two seconds off the previous school record of 3:06.50, and narrowly missed winning the second wheel of the afternoon coming in second to Louisiana State, 3:04.47-3:04.78. Trailing Texas A&M going into the third leg, the Lions got a big carry out of Gehret, who turned in a sub-45.0 read out - the fastest of the day - to put the Blue and White in third place with a lap remaining. Bennett-Green would also run a blistering leg on the anchor, picking off A&M down the in the closing meters, and finish of the Lions' record-breaking performance.
The squad bettered the previous Penn State best of 3:06.50 in the effort, which was set earlier this season by Bennett-Green, Gehret, Loxsom, and Emunael Mpanduki.
Sophomore Bekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) was the top finisher individually, placing fourth in the Olympic Development women's mile, with a PR of 4:40.75. Simko came within an eyelash of putting another school record on the books for the weekend, finishing just shy of Bridget Franek's Penn State best 4:40.65 from 2010.
"It is exciting to represent so well at such a prestigious competition," continued Sullivan. "The pride that our athletes showed in their performances, such as Joe Kovacs in the shot put, and Robby Creese's final kick to hold off Oregon in the 4x800 to the great all-Pennsylvania lineup in the 4x400. This is a weekend that gives our alumni, supporters and university something to be very proud of, especially Coach (Harry) Groves and Dr. (John) Lucas, who have both been instrumental in the success of this program."
Penn State also had an outstanding alumni presence at Penn, with Shana Cox (Great Britain) and Matt Lincoln (Canada) representing their respective countries in the U.S.A. vs. the World portion of the Penn Relays program. Turning in a victory in the Olympic Development shot put was 2011 graduate Blake Eaton, who won with a throw of 62-9.50 (19.14). Fellow alumnus Dane Miller was third in the shot, while Allen Pettner was also an Olympic Development champion, winning the javelin on Friday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions will be back in action on Friday, hosting the Jim Thorpe Open at Nittany Lion Track. For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.