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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With two solid indoor performances in the books, the Penn State track and field team is ready to compete in one of the finest collegiate indoor meets in the country, this weekend's Penn State National.
The Nittany Lions have performed well and have notched numerous significant feats so far this season. One of the keys to success lies in the team's depth and competitive theme. Head coach John Gondak mentioned after Penn State's last meet that the team's success isn't only about the team's top athletes. Instead, it's all a product of the hard working members of the team that continue to push one another to get better during training. It's a process that has worked for the Nittany Lions and it's been showing in both the track and field events.
Penn State's team depth is noticeable on both the men's and women's teams. Thirteen women's events and ten men's events are in the top 30 among all NCAA performances.
In the first two meets, Penn State athletes have won a total of 30 individual event titles and have broken four school records, including Brannon Kidder's all-time NCAA record in the 1,000-meter. Sophomore Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) (60-meter), senior Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) (1,000-meter), senior Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) (1,000-meter) and junior Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.) (pole vault) have all broken school records so far this season.
Also, in the first couple weeks of the season, Lexi Masterson and Brannon Kidder earned Big Ten Athletes of the Week accolades.
At the global level, during the Jan. 9 Penn State Relays, Penn State became home to the fastest men's and women's 4x800-meter relays in the world, as the relay of junior Julie Kocjancic (Pittsburgh, Pa.), sophomore Victoria Crawford (State College, Pa.), sophomore Elizabeth Chikotas (Hellertown, Pa.), and senior Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) combined to post a world leading time of 8:45.85 -- missing the school record of 8:45.60 set in 1984 by 0.25 seconds. For the men, the 4x800-meter relay of sophomore Jordan Makins (Perth, Australia), sophomore Bobby Hill (Wellsbroro, Pa.), freshman Isaiah Harris (Lewiston, Maine), and senior Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) recorded their world leading time of 7:25.28.
Penn State looks to keep building on these early season highlights. This weekend will be a special opportunity for the Nittany Lions to add more standout performances to the growing list of personal bests, meet records and school records. With a wealth of nationally ranked teams coming to Happy Valley, Penn State will get a chance to see how they match up with some of country's best.
As for the two-day Penn State National, it starts Friday at noon and continues Saturday at 11 a.m. for track events and noon for field events at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. Among the 38 teams competing in the meet are nationally ranked No. 4 Virginia Tech, No. 14 Stanford, No. 21 Penn State and No. 23 Georgetown on the men's side, and No. 10 Georgetown, No. 14 Stanford and No. 25 Akron one the women's side.
The Penn State National will be streamed live on Flotrack.org, users must have a FloPro account to access the video.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.