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Za'Von Watkins was the Millrose Games mile champion as a high school senior in 2012.
Feb. 12, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will put their heavily touted middle distance contingent to the test on Saturday, competing on one of track and field's greatest stages at the Millrose Games in New York City. The Nittany Lion men, who are currently rated No. 5 in Division I according to the latest USTFCCCA rankings, will send a small contingent of athletes to compete in the 4x800-meter relay at the prestigious Armory Track and Field Center in Manhattan.
The Nittany Lions currently boast four of the top 16 times in the nation - four of the top six in the Big Ten - in the 800-meters, including NCAA leader Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.), who has run 1:46.98 this season. The Nittany Lions will be at no shortage of talent on the relay pool, also traveling senior Ricky West (Toronto, Ontario), sophomore Ryan Brennan (Chester, N.Y.), and freshmen duo Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), and Za'Von Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.).
Loxsom has been on a record-breaking tear this season, setting an American collegiate record with a school-record setting 1:15.79 last month. The performance is also the second-fastest effort ever run by an American athlete. Loxsom's 1:46.98 effort in the 800 was also one of national note, as the senior was the first collegian to dip under the 1:47 barrier indoors (on a non-oversized track) since 2006. The senior was also named USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week as a result of the performance.
Kidder - a true freshman - has had an profoundly impressive rookie campaign thus far, becoming just the fourth man in program history to break the 4:00-mile barrier, going 3:59.48 at the Penn State National last month. Kidder has also proved to have great range in the middle distances, clocking a lifetime-best 1:48.17 in the 800 earlier in the 2013 season. The time currently stands sixth nationally, and ranks fourth on the all-time Penn State performance list.
Watkins will look forward to returning to his home turf, having won the mile at Millrose as a high school senior in 2012. The Liverpool, N.Y., native has also had an upstart freshman season, running 1:49.03 for the 800, and 2:22.02 for the 1,000-meters in 2013.
Adding to the senior leadership of the Nittany Lion squad is West, who is a multiple-time All-American in the 800. West has ran 1:48.92 for 800, and 2:21.95 for the 1000 this season, and owns half mile PRs of 1:47.81 indoors, and 1:46.41 outside.
Brennan, a member of the Nittany Lions' winning 4x800 at the Penn Relays last spring, has also been at the top of his game this winter, recently clocking a career-low 1:50.28 at the Husky Classic at the University of Washington.
The Nittany Lions also stand a shot to make at attempt at several records in the competition, including the national collegiate indoor record of 7:17.45, set by Clemson in 1989. The Blue and White will also have their sights on the Penn State standard of 7:21.37, which has stood 1987.
Millrose is set for Saturday, February 16, in New York. The Games will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, and air on ESPN on Sunday, February 17 from 8 to 10 p.m. The 4x800 is set for a 7:50 p.m., start on Saturday evening.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.
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