Women's Track and Field in Prime Position Following Big Ten Day One
Feb. 23, 2013
GENEVA, Ohio -Big Ten Championship Central
The Nittany Lions saw scoring performances from senior Jane Swenson (Brandon, S.D.), and juniors Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.), Marlene Ricketts (Westbury, N.Y.), and Brittney Howell (Wyncote, Pa.) to pace the squad's day one efforts, Friday at the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute. The Nittany Lions also set themselves up well throughout the qualifying rounds, including a bevy of Nittany Lions sprinters who earned advancing places to Saturday's finals.
"Our ladies showed up in championship form," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We executed extremely well, and I feel that we are up against some great competition from Illinois and Michigan. But we will press forward with the attitude of "anything can happen," and hope to have the tides turn our way. I look forward to another Big Ten battle."
The Nittany Lions stepped up across the field events on Friday, with Ricketts taking fourth in the long jump with a lifetime-best leap of 19-04 (5.89). Howell would manage a pair of scoring efforts on the afternoon, adding to the Lion point total in the long jump with a sixth-place finish, via a jump of 19-1.25 (5.82). Howell had a productive day at the track overall, also taking seventh in the women's pentathlon with a total score of 3650.
Kurzdorfer and Swenson continued the Lions' success in the field, placing sixth and seventh, respectively, in an ultra-competitive shot put championship. Kurzdorfer came out on fire, bettering her previous lifetime best on each of her six attempts during the competition, ending with a new PR 51-06.50 (15.71). Kurzdorfer's performance - good for sixth on the day - also stands as the fifth-best effort in the Nittany Lion record books. Swenson also bettered the 51-foot marker, with an effort of 51-0.25 (15.55) for seventh.
Also enjoying a season best - as well as a fifth-place finish - on the day was the women's distance medley relay contingent of Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.), Dynasty McGee (Flint, Mich.), Sarah Jane Underwood (Alexandria, Va.), and Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.). The squad combined to clock a finishing time of 11:21.39, which stands as the fastest effort by the Lions this year, as well as the fifth best mark in the Nittany Lion archives.
Highlighting the Penn State effort through the preliminaries was the Lions' sprints and hurdles contingent, led by a sizzling PR 23.47 by junior Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio) in the 200-meters. Jones, who also advanced in the 60-meters, will be joined by teammates Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) and Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname) in the 200 final. Also blitzing to a fast finishing time was McGee, who will advance to the 400-meter final with a qualifying time of 54.52. Seymour, just a freshman, will also compete in the 400 final, thanks to an effort of 54.61 in qualifying.
Shelley Black (Laflin, Pa.) will represent the Nittany Lions in tomorrow's 60-meter hurdle final, after turning in a PR of 8.45 in the preliminaries.
Nebraska is out to the early lead on the women's side, totaling 50 points with six events completed. Wisconsin currently stands second with 32, with Michigan and Illinois following with 31, and 30, respectively. The Nittany Lions are currently sixth with 19.
Action at SPIRE continues on Saturday, beginning at 10:00 a.m. For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.