Track and Field Splits Squads Three Ways for Weekend
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: February 9, 2012 - The Nittany Lion track and field teams will hit the road for the first time of the season this weekend, traveling squads to three separate competitions, including the Flotrack Husky Classic at Washington, the Tyson Invitational at Arkansas, and the Akron Invitational at Akron - all slated for Friday and Saturday. The Nittany Lions have had a stellar indoor season thus far, including a pair of team titles at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup last weekend, as well as a host of stellar performances throughout the month of January in the friendly confines of Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.
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The Nittany Lion middle distance and distance athletes will be making the trip to Seattle, Wash., for the Flotrack Husky Classic - a competition that has proved extremely successful for the Nittany Lions over the past several seasons. Already running well in 2012 has been rookie Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.), who recently came up just shy of breaking the four-minute barrier in the mile run, clocking 4:00.68 at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup a week ago. Creese has been on fire all indoor season, running 2:19.53 for the 1,000 meters last month to set new school and collegiate records. Creese also ran the mile leg on the Nittany Lions' season-best distance medley. The squad - along with freshman Wade Endress (Altoona, Pa.), redshirt-sophomore Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), and freshman Connor Manley (Jamison, Pa.), combined to run 9:35.24, two weeks ago - the Big Ten leader and third best in the NCAA.
Junior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) has also had a stellar start to the 2012 campaign, running a school-record 1:16.66 for the 600 meters at the Nittany Lion Challenge. Loxsom also clocked 1:48.24 to win the 800 meters at the Penn State National - the third-fastest time in the Big Ten.
Also off on the right foot in 2012 have been seniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), and sophomore Bekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio). Simko and Millhouse both lead the Big Ten in their respective events, while all three Nittany Lions were members of the school-record setting distance medley in January. Simko clocked a conference-leading 2:06.91 in the 800 meters at the Penn State National, which also stands second in school history. In the longer distances, Millhouse clocked 9:19.42 for 3000 meters - also a Big Ten best. Lane, senior Ije Iheoma (Holland, Pa.), Simko, and Millhouse combined to run a school-record 11:05.16 for the distance medley last month, which ranks as the seventh-fastest performance in the NCAA this year.
The Nittany Lion sprints and hurdles contingent will head to Fayetteville in search of fast times at the Tyson Invitational, led by redshirt-sophomores Nadolsky and Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio). Nadolsky recently turned in a PR 47.08 in the 400 meters - the fourth-best effort in school history and the second-fastest performance in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions stand to make an impact at the conference level throughout the 400 standings, as Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) currently rates fifth in the Big Ten at 47.16, and freshman Matt Gilmore (Elkins Park, Pa.) stands eighth at 47.90.
Jones is atop the Big Ten leaderboard in a pair of events, clocking PR efforts of 23.68 in the 200, and 54.32 in the 400, thus far in 2012. Jones is backed up by a host of Lions in the women's sprints, including redshirt-freshman Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname), who ranks fourth in the conference in the 200 at 23.76. Junior Evonne Britton (El Paso, Texas) is also in conference medal contention in the 60-meter hurdles, after clocking a lifetime-best 8.20 last month. The time currently ranks second in the conference.
The majority of the Nittany Lion field-event athletes will make the quick trip to Akron, including seven-foot high jumpers Sean Reilly (Lagrangeville, N.Y.), and Jon Hendershot (Nazareth, Pa.). Reilly topped out at conference-leading 7-1.75 (2.18) last week, while Hendershot has also bettered the barrier during the season, clearing 7-0.25 (2.14).
Also heading to Akron will be the Penn State throws contingent, with sophomore Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.), leading the way in the women's shot put and 20-lb weight throw. Kurzdorfer, who is in her first season with the Nittany Lions, has wasted no time in making her mark in the record books with throws of 50-2 (15.29) in the shot - fifth-best in school history - and 64-10.50 (19.77) in the weight - third farthest in school history. Redshirt sophomore Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio) is the top thrower on the men's side, with a personal-best of 63-4 (19.44) in the 35-lb weight.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, recaps, and results following both days of competition, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.