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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State track and field team wrapped up the Penn State National Friday and Saturday with solid performances from a host of Nittany Lions in front of electric crowds at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.
Once again, the Nittany Lions competed valiantly to set personal records, break school records, and set standout marks among the NCAA ranks.
"It was a fantastic weekend for Penn State men's and women's track and field," said head coach John Gondak.
Highlighting the weekend's action were seniors Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) and Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio). Normally a 3K and 5K distance athlete, Gerlach broke the school record in the mile by 12 one-hundredths of a second with a time 4:37.83. She won the race by a significant margin of more than seven seconds. In what was probably the collegiate race of the weekend, mid-distance runner Kidder followed up his Nittany Lion Challenge NCAA collegiate record in the 1,000-meter event with the top performance in the 800-meter event to put him second-fastest in the NCAA, with a time of 1:47.01.
Penn State continued their rich tradition of standout performances in the men's distance medley relay Friday. Kidder, the anchor leg on the men's distance medley relay, along with sophomore Jordan Makins (Perth, Australia), junior Alex Shisler (State College, Pa.), and freshman Isaiah Harris (Lewiston, Maine) set a NCAA-best time so far this season in 9:27.20. Kidder and Stanford's Sean McGorty battled in a tight one down the front stretch to the finish line in what would be the No. 1 and No. 2 times in the nation as of Friday night.
In the sprints, sophomore Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) out did his school record in the 60-meter event once again with a blazing time of 6.68 seconds. He beat Buffalo's Darien Johnson to the line by one one-hundredth of a second. Smith has bested his school record in each of the first three competitions this season.
Sophomore Malik Moffett (Erie, Pa.) won the 200-meter event and just missed the school record by four one-hundredths of a second.
The Nittany Lion women dominated in the pole vault with junior Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.) winning the event with a clearance of 4.09m (13'0.5"). Junior Kasey Kemp (Irwin, Pa.) and sophomore Hannah Mulhern (Altoona, Pa.) finished with a tie for third-place.
In the jumps, junior Dannielle Gibson (Nassau, Bahamas) set a personal indoor record with a winning jump of 6.11m (20'-0.5"). Gibson won the event by a difference of four inches.
In the throws, senior Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) and junior Alyssa Robinson (Saint Clairsville, Ohio) finished second and fourth respectively in the women's weight throw. Fatherly also finished second in the women's shot put.
The Nittany Lions will be back in action this weekend for the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup two-day event at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor track. It will be Penn State's first team event of the year and a simulation of what it will be like to compete in team postseason meets. "It should be exciting to see how we can do in a scored competition," said Gondak.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.