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Feb. 1, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will cap off their home indoor schedule with a bang on Saturday, hosting an elite "Invitational" shot put competition in conjunction with the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup. The event, which will begin at 12:00 p.m., on Saturday, is slated to feature Nittany Lion volunteer assistant and U.S. Olympic hopeful Ryan Whiting, who currently holds the top mark on U.S. soil this year at 69-10.50 (21.29) set at Ashenfelter III Indoor Track last month. Also competing will be former Penn State standout and two-time NCAA All-American Blake Eaton, along with senior Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.), who has a pair NCAA bronze medals to his credit.
"It's really exciting for the program to highlight this event this weekend," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "It is not only exciting to give Olympic hopeful - Ryan Whiting - another chance to compete and potentially get over that 70-foot barrier, with as well as he's been competing so far this year. But we're also really thrilled to give Joe and Blake the opportunity to throw, as both have been former All-Americans and have been really important factors in our program over the past few years. It should be an outstanding competition, and I hope to see a great crowd at Ashenfelter Track."
Whiting, who currently trains in Happy Valley, and is originally from Harrisburg, Pa., had a dominant NCAA career at Arizona State University, winning a grand total of six national titles. Whiting, who also owns the indoor collegiate record at 71-3.50 (21.73), continued seamlessly into an outstanding professional career last year, winning the 2011 USATF Indoor Championships, and finishing fourth at the USATF Outdoor Championships. From there, Whiting went on to finish seventh at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea, last summer.
Whiting has been sharp in his first few appearances of the early season, winning the U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden last weekend, after setting the Ashenfelter III facility record with his season-best toss of 69-10.50 (21.29) in January.
The competition is also set to feature an Army versus Navy dual, between competitors involved in Penn State's Ability Athletics Program. Sean Hook will represent the Army, while either Chris Marsh or John Edmondson will compete for the Navy.
The Ability Athletics competitors are coming to Penn State through the Navy Safe Harbor, which oversees many facets of caring for Navy Veterans. This special venture between Penn State and Navy Safe Harbor is one of the first between the military organization and a college athletic department. This unique partnership allows Penn State and the Navy to better support adaptive athletes across the region and promote ability athletics awareness. Penn State is one of the top adaptive programs in the nation sending multiple Paralympians to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. PSU is once again set to send several more Paralympians to the 2012 London Games this summer.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, and Penn State Ability Athletics, log on to GoPSUsports.com.