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Feb. 22, 2013
GENEVA, Ohio - Thanks to a sizzling anchor leg from super sophomore Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.), the Nittany Lions captured the program's second-straight conference title in the distance medley relay, Friday evening at the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute. Creese, along with teammates freshman Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), sophomore Matt Gilmore (Philadelphia, Pa.), and sophomore Ryan Brennan (Chester, N.Y.), zipped to a season-best 9:39.87, which also stands as new Big Ten meet, and SPIRE facility records, as well as the sixth-fastest effort in the NCAA this season.
"We had a near perfect day on the men's competition," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "I was very proud of our competitive spirit and the excellent execution of our performances. It will be a dogfight in finals tomorrow, our plan is to compete with wide eyes and our teeth out. We'll see where we lands at the end of the day."
Kidder, who will also represent the Nittany Lions in tomorrow's 800-meter final, led off with a 1200-meter split of 2:56.5, surging to the front of the pack over the final strides of the race, and handing off to Gilmore with the Lions in the lead. Gilmore than maintained the Lion advantage, splitting 46.5 on the 400-meter carry, to give the stick to Brennan on the 800-meter leg. Brennan, who will also come back in the Saturday's 800 final, split 1:52.6, handing off to Creese in a pack of Big Ten competitors.
The sophomore, who anchored the Lions' winning relay a year ago, bided his time before taking over the lead with just over 400-meters remaining. Creese turned on the jets, to hold off a flurry of furious finishers, solidifying the Lions' second-straight victory in the event. The Nittany Lions edged Wisconsin in 9:40.18 - just ahead of Minnesota, and Nebraska, who finished in 9:41.20, and 9:41.67, respectively. In the effort, the Nittany Lions bettered the meet record of 9:40.05, set by Michigan in 2005.
Also getting in on the day one scoring was senior Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.), who turned in an eighth-place finish in a hotly contested men's 3,000-meters. Masters finished in 8:00.45 for eighth - the second-fastest performance of his career. Putting points on the board in the field was sophomore Darrell Hill (Philadelphia, Pa.) in the men's shot put. Hill turned in a seventh-place effort in the event via a toss of 59-06.75 (18.15).
The Nittany Lions were on fire in the middle distances all afternoon, advancing all four of their entrants through the preliminary round and on to the men's 800-meter final. The Lions qualified three through from the first of three preliminary heats, led by automatic qualifying performances from freshman Za'Von Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.), and Brennan, who finished first and second, running 1:49.26, and 1:49.42, respectively. Kidder also advanced via a heat victory, turning in an effort of 1:49.73 in the opening round. Senior Ricky West (Toronto, Ontario) would sneak the last spot in the final as a time qualifier, going 1:49.84 in his preliminary heat.
The Nittany Lions enjoyed an early momentum boost in the men's mile preliminaries, with both Creese and senior Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.) advancing to tomorrow's final via automatic-advancing positions. Corkedale was the first to secure his slot in the final, running a lifetime-best 4:03.66 to edge the third-place competitor for the second automatic spot. Creese coasted to a victory in his preliminary section, outkicking the field to finish in 4:04.39. Corkedale's preliminary heat was also a quick one, as the senior clocked a PR of 4:03.66 to take second in his section, and earn an automatic-qualifying slot.
Also advancing to tomorrow's final rounds were junior Brandon Bennett-Green (Philadelphia, Pa.), and senior Emunael Mpanduki (Harare, Zimbabwe) in the 400-meters, as well as sophomore Sancho Barrett (Amityville, N.Y.). Bennett-Green won his preliminary heat with the fifth-fastest mark in qualifying at 47.34, while Mpanduki clocked 47.71 in his section. Barrett was also sharp in the qualifying round, running 7.98 to earn a spot in tomorrow's nine-man final.
Wisconsin is currently on top of the men's team standings, boasting 39 points with five events in the books. Nebraska stands second with 29.66, and Indiana rounds out the top three with 27. The Nittany Lions currently stand seventh with 13 points.
The program picks back up tomorrow morning, with action kicking off at 10:00 a.m. For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.