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Feb. 27, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - An entire season of effort comes down to this weekend, as the Nittany Lion track and field squads are set to put it all on the line at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1 at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Both squads are poised to contend for outstanding finishes in the conference, led by Penn State's No. 7 ranked men's contingent and No. 11 ranked women's contingent. The meet will be highly competitive across both genders, as the men's meet includes four squads ranked in the national top 25, while the women's competition will feature three teams in the top 25 in the latest United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) rankings.
"We are excited and prepared to take this Big Ten drive all the way to Ohio and compete well against this awesome conference in the Big Tens," said Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, Beth Alford Sullivan. "Our teams are poised, prepared, and excited for this competition."
On the men's side, many of the Nittany Lions are in position to make a run at the medal stand, including sophomore Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), junior Steve Waithe (Parkville, Md.), and senior Bernard Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), who all hold the top mark in their respective events going into the Big Ten Indoor Championships. Kidder is the returning 800-meter run champion from last year Big Ten Indoor Championships and was also named Big Ten Freshmen of the Year. Kidders season-best time of 1:47.45 currently ranks him second in the NCAA this season.
Waithe also stands at the top of the crowd, jumping to a personal best 52-6 in the triple jump at the SPIRE D1 Invitational a few weeks ago. Waithe has had a sensational Big Ten debut as a transfer, finishing first at the SPIRE D1 Invitational, Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup, and Penn State Indoor Relays in 2014. He was voted Big Ten athlete of the week for his 52-6 effort and is currently ranked No. 9 in the country.
The Nittany Lion sprints contingent stands to shine this weekend, boasting the top three seeds in the 400 meters. At the top of the list is senior Bernard Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) at 46.55. Bennett-Green is followed by teammates Byron Robinson (Chesapeake, Va.) and Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), who have run 46.73, and 46.74 respectively this season, and currently stand in second and third on the Big Ten entry list.
On the women's side, entering the meet as the top seed is senior Evonne Britton (El Paso, Texas), who leads the conference in the women's 60-meter hurdles. Britton produced a PR and school record performance of 8.15 at the Penn State National, which stands as the best among Big Ten competitors, as well as a top 10 performance in the NCAA this season.
Representing the Nittany Lions as top seeds in the sprints will be sophomore Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.), who enters the meet with a performance of 52.74 in the 400 meters that currently puts her in the top 10 in the NCAA. Seymour finished fifth last year in this event at the Big Ten Championships. Teammate Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio) is also poised to make an impact in the sprints, coming in as the top seed in both the 60-meters and in the 200-meters.
In the field, the Nittany Lions look to have a strong showing with senior Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) leading the way in the weight throw. Kurzdorfer currently is second in the conference with a toss of 68-6. Following closely behind Kurzdorfer is teammate Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) who stands third in the conference with a toss of 66-0.5.
The Nittany Lions have always enjoyed outstanding results in the distances events on the conference level, and this season will be no different, as sophomore Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) goes in with a PR performance of 9:14.75 in the 3000 meter run, which rates as the No. 3 time in the conference.
Action at the Big Ten Indoor Championships begins on Friday, and concludes on Saturday evening.