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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Isaiah Harris, Tessa Barrett and Danae Rivers currently all have NCAA leading times after the Penn State National Open this past weekend.
Sophomore Isaiah Harris started the day off with a bang. Harris and Penn State alum, Casimir Loxsom ran a world record-breaking race in the 600m. Loxsom won the race with a time of 1:14.91. Not far behind, Harris came in second with a time of 1:14.96. Loxsom and Harris are now No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively.
"I felt really good throughout the whole race, even when I was done," said Harris. "I knew Cas was going to go out fast like we talked about what he was going to do before the race. I knew he was going to try to go out at 48, so I knew if I just stuck with him it would be a perfect race for me. So, I want to thank Cas for pulling me along."
Harris and Loxsom had already ran against each other at this past summer's Olympic trials, so they had formed a special bond on and off the track.
"We talked a lot, like we texted, talked on Twitter and stuff like that. We kept in contact, so he's like a friend now. It's pretty cool," said Harris. "We were at Oregon at the trials and he had dinner with us a few times and hung out with me and (Penn State alum Brannon) Kidder. It's cool having someone who can push you and be competitive with, but you're also friends with at the same time."
This world record-breaking race is just a start of what the rest of the season will be for Harris.
"I think it's a big confidence boost for what I can do in the future," said Harris. "It's really going to help me in the 800. When we go out fast in the 800, the first 600 I'm going to feel more comfortable knowing that I can run faster than that. It's going to help me overall and hopefully it can lead to a faster 800."
Harris' time is now the collegiate 600m record and currently No. 1 in the nation.
Also on the track, sophomore Tessa Barrett broke the 3,000-meter school record running a time of 9:07.22, which is also the top time in the nation.
"I'm so glad I had Tori (Gerlach) to help push me along," said Barrett. "It was really cool because the (5,000m) school record holder, Bridget Franek, was here today, so that was really cool. I didn't even know."
This school record and leading national time is just the beginning for the rest of Barrett's indoor season. This mark and her teammates will only push her to achieve more going forward.
"I think it was a good benchmark just to know that I could run that time. I think moving forward, just keep the ball rolling," said Barrett. "It's amazing having teammates like Danae and Isaiah and seeing them run amazing, it's just inspiring me to do more. I think we got a lot of energy right now so definitely just keep moving forward."
Along with those huge performances, freshman Danae Rivers is right there with her older teammates. Rivers is now 3-for-3 in school records. Rivers has broken the 600m school record, the 800m school record and now the mile school record consecutively in past three meets. Rivers' mile time of 4:34.87 is now No. 1 in the NCAA.
"I had a game plan from the get-go, so I knew to go out with Grace (Trucilla) who was rabbiting today. Stick with her then that last 800 just keeping going," said Rivers. "It feels amazing. I'm on my feet right now so that's pretty good. I'm a little sore, but I'm just glad I got it done and working with the coaches is very great."
Head coach John Gondak knew that Rivers would be a top performer after watching her throughout this past preseason.
"It's pretty amazing. As I said after the first two, she did some things this fall in training that made me think that this was a special athlete and she just continues to show it," said Gondak. "What's pretty amazing is that you go 3:18 for a 1200 last night, then 4:34 No. 1 time in the country for the mile, then back it up with a second PR in the 4x4 with a split of 53.6 It's just amazing range and she's got some great opportunities ahead of her to do some special things and she's got a great head, looking forward to seeing where things go with her."
Gondak is more than pleased with the performances on and off the track that happened at the Penn State National Open.
"It got started with a bang with a world record, which was thrilling. Cas Lozsom came back and was shooting for that world record, and pulled Isaiah Harris to a collegiate record and the No. 1 and No. 2 times ever in the world. It was an exciting start," said Gondak. "The meet today produced a lot of Big Ten No. 1 performances and a lot of No. 1 NCAA performances. Across all of the events, it was just a fantastic National Open and I'm thankful for the teams that came here and made it a great experience."