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Feb. 16, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan and the Nittany Lions have announced the signings of six elite high school prospects, to kick off the national signing period, which began earlier this month. Among the Nittany Lion commitments are middle distance and distance standouts Zavon Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.), Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) and Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.), as well as talented sprint prospect Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.), and field event stars Jarred Posey (York, Pa.) and Kasey Kemp (North Huntingdon, Pa.).
"It's an exciting incoming class for Penn State track and field and cross country," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Lots of great talent, and just outstanding young people to join our program. Great recruits lead to great results, and we're excited to have them in the Blue and White next year."
The Nittany Lions are currently amidst another outstanding indoor campaign, which has already produced school-record efforts from Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and the women's distance medley relay, including Lane, Ijeoma Iheoma (Holland, Pa.), Bekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.). The indoor season has also already yield a collegiate record in the 1000 meters (2:19.53) from freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.), who also recently broke the 4:00-barrier for the one mile run.
Tori Gerlach || Pennridge High School (Pa.) || Distance
Gerlach bolted onto the national radar last spring, running a personal-best 9:40.42 to place fourth in a sizzling 3,000-meter competition at the historic Penn Relays Carnival. Since then, Gerlach has impressed in cross country and on the track, winning the 2011 PIAA AAA 3200-meter title in 10:36.00. Gerlach would carry her outstanding success into the cross country season, winning the District I individual title and qualifying for the Footlocker Cross Country Championships. This indoor season, the Pennridge High School product clocked 4:58.67 to qualify to compete at the Millrose Games.
Gerlach's Personal Bests
Mile - 4:58.67i; 3000m - 9:40.42; 3200m - 10:36.00; 5000m - 17:11.73i
Kasey Kemp || Norwin High School (Pa.) || Pole Vault
Kemp topped out at 12-0 to win the PIAA AAA Outdoor Championship as a junior, before going on to place 13th overall in the vault at New Balance Outdoor Nationals. The North Huntingdon, Pa., native owns a lifetime-best clearance of 12-6.
Kemp's Personal Best
Pole Vault - 12-6
Brannon Kidder || Lancaster High School (Ohio) || Middle Distance
Another outstanding addition to the Nittany Lion middle distance lineup, Kidder was ranked number one in the state of Ohio, and number five nationally in the 1600 meters last spring, thanks to a PR 4:05.31. Kidder would also top the mile standings in his home state as a junior, running 4:06.73 - which also ranked seventh among U.S. preps in 2011. The Lancaster High School product also impressed in the 800, clocking 1:51.09 - the second-best time in state in 2011. As a junior, Kidder - the 2011 Midwest Distance Gala Champion in the mile - turned in victories in the 800 at the Ohio Indoor State Meet, and would pick up a gold medal in the 1600 at the Ohio State Outdoor Championships.
Kidder's Personal Bests
800m - 1:51.09; 1600m - 4:05.31; Mile - 4:06.73
Jarred Posey || William Penn High School (Pa.) || Jumps
Posey will join the Nittany Lion jumps contingent, boasting a 2012 season-best 47-7.50 in the triple jump - the third-best performance in the state and a top 15 effort, nationally. Posey enjoyed a very successful outdoor season in 2011, placing seventh at Penn Relays, and posting a career-best effort of 48-2 to finish eighth at New Balance Nationals. On the state level, Posey is a two-time state medalist, placing second at the PIAA Outdoor Championships as a junior, to go along with a fourth-place finish at the PTFCA Indoor Championships last year.
Posey's Personal Bests
Triple Jump - 48-2
Kiah Seymour || Archbishop Carroll (D.C.) || Sprints, Hurdles
Seymour has already proved she's ready to run fast at Penn State, having clocked a career-best 24.50 to win the 200 meters at the Kevin Dare Memorial HS Invitational at Ashenfelter Track last month. Seymour's one-lap PR is the sixth fastest among preps this season. The "Emerging Elite" Champion at 400-meters at New Balance Outdoor Nationals last year, Seymour clocked 38.95 in the 300 meters at the recent Virginia Tech High School Invitational, which also stands as a top 10 time nationally. Also a promising intermediate hurdle prospect, Seymour clocked a personal-best 1:00.07 to place seventh in the 400-meter hurdles at the World Youth Trials last summer.
Seymour's Personal Bests
200m - 24.50i; 300m - 38.95i; 400m - 55.73; 500m - 1:15.85i; 300mH - 41.91; 400mH - 1:00.07
Zavon Watkins || Liverpool High School (N.Y.)|| Middle Distance
Watkins, one of the top middle distance prospects over the past several seasons, has been on a tear in 2012, recently picking up a victory in the mile at the prestigious Millrose Games at the New York Armory. Watkins' PR 4:13.83 in the win is the third-fastest performance by a prep this year. Watkins' winning performance at Millrose is just one of a string of high-profile victories for the Liverpool, N.Y., native, including 2012 wins in the mile at the US Open at Madison Square Garden, as well as the New Balance Games at the Armory. Currently, Watkins also ranks second nationally in the 600 meters at 1:19.20. The New York standout is also the second-fastest returner in the 800 meters going into the outdoor campaign, having run 1:49.70 to place second at New Balance Nationals in 2011. Watkins also recorded a sizzling 1:47.99 split on the Liverpool 4x800-meter relay at New Balance. He is the defending New York State Champion in the 800, and was also the N.Y. runner up in the 1600 meters at 4:12.52, as a junior.
Watkins' Personal Bests
600m - 1:19.20i; 800m - 1:49.70; 1000m - 2:26.13i; Mile - 4:13.83i