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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State track and field team showed no signs of resting on its laurels during Saturday's Nittany Lion Challenge.
The Nittany Lion Challenge marked the second competition of the year for the Nittany Lions. After the meet concluded, head coach John Gondak stressed that the team didn't have any letdowns even after a solid showing in last weekend's Penn State Relays. Though there can be a mental hurdle to overcome complacency after a successful first meet of the year, there wasn't any signs of complacency from the Nittany Lions this weekend.
The meet was filled with standout performances turned in by Penn State athletes in a wide-range of events both on the track and in the field events. Penn State went on to win 13 individual events, set four meet records, and break one NCAA collegiate record.
Gondak was ecstatic with the team's focus and passion.
"Our theme of becoming competitors continues to be on display with the performances that our program is having," he said.
The meet was highlighted by Penn State senior Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) who broke the NCAA collegiate record for the 1,000-meter dash with a time of 2:18.26. Kidder broke teammate Robby Creese's NCAA record. Before Kidder and Creese, former Nittany Lion Ryan Foster previously held the NCAA mark.
"We had planned on taking it out fast and just seeing what we had early. (Jordan) Makins brought me through 600-meters perfect, we got there and I felt pretty good so I just kept going," said Kidder.
Kidder never ran the 1,000-meter dash event in competition before Saturday. In the back of Kidder's mind, he thought he could have a chance at the record, but he was more focused on running a good 800-meters before the push to the finish line on the final lap.
In the sprints, sophomore Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) went on to once again break his school record in the 60-meter dash in back-to-back competitions with a time of 6.69 seconds. In last week's Penn State Relays, Smith ran a time of 6.70 seconds.
"It's always good when you run a PR (personal record), but I'm still headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to two weeks of good training before hitting the track again at the Penn State National," said Smith.
In the throws, senior Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) threw 19.84m (65'-1.25") in the women's weight throw to set her season and personal best. Fatherly also threw a personal best of 17.08m (56'-0.5") in the women's shot put event.
"Coming into today, throwing over 17-meters was a goal of mine, said Fatherly. "On the second throw, I threw 55' but I released it too early, I knew I had more. The next throw, I was a little aggressive and ended up all over the toe board. In the transition in-between prelims and finals I was able to calm down and the first throw of finals I threw 56'. There are still a lot of technical things that I need to fix, but based on where I was at this point last year I'm way ahead so far this season."
Several other Penn State athletes set personal best in their respective events including: Patrick Anderson (pole vault), Malik Moffett (long jump), Jordan Makins (mile), Morgan Shigo (weight throw), Elizabeth Chikotas (mile), Dannielle Gibson (triple jump), Tori Gerlach (1,000-meter dash), and Quenee Dale (60-meter hurdles).
Penn State has a crucial training period of two weeks to fine tune some things before its next competition. Gondak is excited to see the team compete against some of the nation's best. The Nittany Lions will get the opportunity to do so in the Penn State National at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track on Jan. 29-30. The Penn State National will be streamed live on Flotrack.org.
For more on Penn State track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.