|Follow PSU Track & Field:||Follow @PennStateTFXC|
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion Challenge this Saturday will be the first home meet of the indoor season for the track team, but it'll also be assistant coach Lucais MacKay's first meet coaching here at Penn State.
Coach MacKay is coming from coaching throwers at Oklahoma State University, where he coached during the 2015-2016 indoor and outdoor seasons. There, he led two athletes to the NCAA Championship meet, where one placed second in the women's shot put. Now, MacKay is onto his first indoor season here at Penn State.
"It's been awesome. Coming into town and buying my first home, feeling really embraced by the whole community, taking my dog to the park and going to the football games, it really feels like a community. I like that a lot," said MacKay.
"It feels like a traditional college town and everyone is behind the athletic department. If you go out to Wegman's or anywhere in your gear, you usually get stopped and that's nice. I really like that feeling."
The atmosphere of the Penn State track team is one of MacKay's favorite parts of coaching here.
"Having this indoor facility and having the team all under one roof, getting to see the jumpers and the distance kids and the rest of the event groups work on a regular basis I think is really good for the cohesion of the team," said MacKay. "The fall was fast, quick and a lot of things happened. Coming in new, getting to know my athletes can sometimes be difficult, but everything has been really positive."
"I'm really excited for these kids," he added. "They went through the transition of losing a coach and there's a fair bit of upperclassmen and some good underclassmen that are developing. I'm excited for them to put on the jersey, compete at home and get a mark that counts. They practice for three to four months before you actually get to say 'yes this one counts.' I'm excited for that and excited to see how they compete. Going through mock scenarios is always nice, but getting an opportunity to line up and get your name called and have it count and the comradery that comes out of that."
MacKay's first fall preseason here was a transition that the throwers adjusted to well.
"I think getting to know the athletes, getting to know their training and laying down a foundation of technique was the most important thing that we accomplished (in the fall preseason). So now, kind of putting those things under fire and seeing how they hold up in competition and seeing if we need to alleviate any performance anxieties or any of those little mental things that creep up," said MacKay. "We train a lot, so getting good feedback from the fall and clocking in good hours and doing the good technical practices is setting us up for some success here in January. I'm looking forward to lacing up and seeing if that works."
Senior thrower Michael Shuey said MacKay always came prepared and ready to challenge them at practice.
"Everything had a common goal that we were doing. Everything made sense. He's really smart in how he prepares practices for us and writes everything down," said Shuey. "He's a mad scientist when it comes to track, so there's no doubt that we're all ready for this year."
Junior thrower Obeng Marfo said the fall consisted of different training than previous falls have, but she's ready to see how that all plays out this Saturday.
"I'm excited to do well because we've been training really hard in the fall season," said Marfo. "With a new coach, we've learned a lot of different things, so I'm pretty excited to showcase the things I've learned in the fall season. I hope the things we've done will help show results in the meet. I'm really excited for this season."
Coach MacKay and the Nittany Lions will first be in action at their home opener meet this Saturday, Jan. 14th at the Multi-Sport Facility.