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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Indoor Big Ten Championships right around the corner, the Penn State Nittany Lion track team is tuning up this weekend as they host their final indoor meet of season.
The Penn State Tune-Up will be held this Saturday, Feb. 18th at the Horace Ashenfelter Indoor track. This will give the Nittany Lions one last shot to qualify for the Big Ten Championships that are held in Geneva, OH on Feb. 24th and 25th.
"The tune-up meet is going to help our team reach the best of its abilities to enter the Big Ten meet with has much strength and momentum as possible," said junior hurdler Rachael DeCecco. "This meet will give those who still need a qualifying mark one last chance to get it and it will give others the opportunity to improve their marks to make them the most competitive at Big Tens. Good marks this weekend will give our team strong momentum going into the Big Ten meet to get after a team championship."
"The tune-up meet is crucial for several reasons," said senior multi Rob Cardina. "The first is that it's the last meet to sharpen and fine tune our skills before we compete at the big ten championships. Secondly, it's a smaller meet so the energy at the track will be lacking from the crowd. It's a great chance for us as a team to bring the energy ourselves and support one another. It's exemplifies the Spire Institute we compete in next week. We're excited."
For some of the team, this smaller meet will feel more normal to them, taking the pressure off of competing at a higher energy meet with a lot of other schools.
"Danae (Rivers) and Rachel Banks are running the 600 with me too, so I just think that it will be a great opportunity to chase her and be able to have a good team atmosphere," said sophomore hurdler Elyse Skerpon. "It will also feel just like practice because there won't be a ton of people there, allowing me to race more relaxed."
Other members of the team are taking this meet off to help them rest up for the championships.
"I'm really excited for this weekend, particularly because I'm taking the week off. After competing five weekends in a row, I think that this is going to be really good for me in preparation for the Big Ten meet. Mentally and physically, it'll just give me a chance to relax and get myself in the Big Ten mode. It will also just give my body a break and let me rest for one weekend before we head out to Spire, so I can be really fresh there," said junior pole vaulter Hannah Mulhern.
"There are a few people that are competing this weekend, and I'm really excited to see how it goes for them. It's called the tune-up meet so it's going to be good for a lot of people to fine tune in their event areas and just do whatever they need to do to be best prepared for the Big Ten meet."
Going into this last home indoor meet, the team is set with high goals for the end of their indoor season.
"For the rest of the indoor season, a goal for our team is to win the Big Ten Championships. We have a lot of talent in all event groups so a team championship is within reach," said DeCecco."I think individually, everyone hopes to perform at the Big Ten meet better than they ever have. If everyone brings they're A-game, I think our women's team could be top contenders for a team championship."
"As a team, both men and women are in a great spot to score high at Big Tens. We have all the key components from high scorers to point grabbers. Every point counts and we've been stressing that all year. I want nothing more than to bring home 2 trophies from that meet," said Cardina. "Personally, I want to score as many team points as possible for the men's squad. The ultimate goal is to win the very competitive men's heptathlon. It's been great working with Coach Kelly and all the guys and girls in his jump crew. It would be special to go out on top."