Nittany Lion Distance Medley Runs NCAA Leader
March 1, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -
The Nittany Lion quartet of freshman Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), junior Brandon Bennett-Green (Philadelphia, Pa.), freshman Za'Von Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.) and Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) set facility and school records, on their way to an NCAA-leading performance in the distance medley relay, Friday at the Alex Wilson Invitational at the University of Notre Dame. With the performance, the Nittany Lions have easily solidified a spot at next week's NCAA Indoor Championships, which are set for March 8-9 at the University of Arkansas.
"Tonight was very electric with the phenomenal DMRs ran from across the country running the best times in the NCAA this season," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Notre Dame and Coach Piane put together three impressive heats and the athletes showed up and raced. It's excited for us to be in this position, so hopefully we use the momentum towards are remaining races tomorrow and into NCAA next weekend. Congrats to Coach (John) Gondak and the athletes on a new school record and an incredible performance."
The Nittany Lions posted the best effort of three stacked sections of the event, going 9:26.60 - the second-faster performance ever run by a collegiate program indoors. The Lions' mark was also enough to better the previous Penn State best of 9:32.94, set by Sam Borchers, Mike Cadau, Ryan Foster, and Tim Johnson in 2009.
Kidder - the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year - led things off on the 1200-meter carry, bringing the Lions through in front of a tight pack of competitors, handing off to Bennett-Green with a split of 2:53. Bennett-Green would also post an outstanding effort, fending off a late charge from Big Ten rival Minnesota on the 400-meter leg, sprinting away from the Golden Gophers in the closing meters to turn in a sizzling readout of 46.4.
It was then Watkins turn on the 800-meters, with the freshman holding his own to split 1:49.3 and turn the stick over the Creese on the anchor. Running step for step with a large pack of runners on the mile leg, Creese once again unleashed his patented finishing kick with 400 meters to go, blowing away the field with a 3:57.6 carry over 1600-meters, breaking the tape in a blistering 9:26.60.
The Nittany Lions outlasted second-place Oklahoma State in the their heat, bettering the Cowboys by nearly two seconds at 9:28.38. Penn State was still tops with the results of all three heats combined, as Princeton was the second fastest finisher at 9:27.74. Stanford followed in third overall with an effort of 9:28.25.
Action at Notre Dame continues tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., while competition also gets underway at the VT Final Qualifier at Virginia Tech. The Nittany Lions will have athletes entered at both competitions.
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