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Feb. 28, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - An already sensational indoor campaign continues for Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.), as the Nittany Lion rookie was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, announced by conferences offices on Tuesday. Creese played a major role in the Nittany Lion efforts at the Big Ten Indoor Championships at Nebraska last weekend, anchoring the winning distance medley relay, and coming back to finish third individually in the mile.
Creese is just the third Nittany Lion to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in Penn State track and field/cross country program history, following current senior Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), who won the award in cross country in 2008, and junior teammate Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.), who earned the accolade after the 2010 outdoor championships.
With Minnesota holding a big lead going into the 1600-meter leg, Creese bided his time in the pack, slowly reeling in the Golden Gophers and closing with a speedy 26-second lap to best the rest of the field, and clinch Penn State's first-ever Big Ten men's title in a relay event. Classmate Wade Endress (Altoona, Pa.) guided the Lions through the 1200-meter lead off, followed by redshirt-sophomore Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), who spilt 48.2 on the 400 leg. Loxsom would cover the 800-meter leg in 1:50.6, bringing the Lions to the head of the chase back before handing off to the rookie anchor. Creese closed out in effort with a 4:01.6 readout for 1600, breaking the tape at 9:44.40. All four Nittany Lions were named to the All-Big Ten First Team for their efforts.
Creese would cruise through the preliminary round of the mile run, clocking 4:06.19 - the second-fastest time of the round - to win his qualifying heat. The freshman came back to finish third in tactical mile final, running 4:07.69 to earn his second trip to the medal stand.
The Mount Airy, Md., native has had quite the start to his collegiate career this season, clocking 2:19.53 for 1000-meters at the Nittany Lion Challenge last month, setting new Collegiate and American Junior records in the event. The rookie continued to excel, anchoring the men's distance medley to a season-best 9:35.24 - the eighth-fastest performance in the country this season - and running 1:48.64 in the 800, which is also in the top 20 nationally, at the Penn State National.
Creese also recently became just the third Nittany Lion in history to break the 4:00-barrier in the mile, running 3:59.52 at the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington earlier this month. Creese's sub-4:00 is the second fastest in Penn State indoor history, trailing only Ryan Foster's 3:58.49 from 2011. Creese joins Foster, as well as Larry Mangan, who ran 3:58.4 outdoors in 1980, as the only Nittany Lion to better the elusive barrier.
Women's Big Ten Champions Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), who won the 5000-meters, and Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), who was tops in the mile, also garnered spots on the first team, while Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.), Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), Ijeoma Iheoma (Holland, Pa.), Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname), Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio), and Dynasty McGee (Ypsilanti, Mich.) all received all-conference second team status.
The Nittany Lions will be back in action this weekend competing at several "Last Chance" competitions, prior to traveling to the NCAA Indoor Championships, set for March 9-10 at Boise State University.