Distance Medley Earns NCAA Runner Up Honors
March 9, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.: March 8, 2013 -
The Nittany Lion quartet of freshman Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), junior Brandon Bennett-Green (Philadelphia, Pa.), freshman Za'Von Watkins(Liverpool, N.Y.), and sophomore Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) earned All-America honors on Friday, placing second at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the University of Arkansas. The Lions' effort was the highest finish in the event in program history, as well as Penn State's second-straight runner-up standing in the relay at NCAA indoors, having finished second in the 4x400-meter relay in 2012.
The quartet held their own among the nation's best, crossing the finish line in 9:34.00 - just off of regional rival Princeton, who took top honors in 9:33.01. The Nittany Lions also led the way for a stellar effort from the Big Ten Conference, which included the Nittany Lions in second, Minnesota in third, and Indiana in fourth.
Kidder, who was one of just two freshman of the opening leg, proved to be one to watch in the coming years, fending off furious charges from several opponents over the final lap of the 1200-meter opener, giving the Nittany Lions the advantage going into the 400-meter carry, thanks to a 1200 split of 2:55.17. Bennett-Green would keep the competition at bay on the quarter leg, splitting an impressive 46.55, officially, to give the stick to Watkins on the 800-meter portion.
Watkins continued to keep the Nittany Lions in front, coming through in 1:49.54 to hand off to Creese, who had run the mile preliminaries just hours earlier, with the lead. After the pace slowed slightly, Creese kept his composure out front, leading a pack of nearly 10 competitors for the first 1200 meters of his 1600 carry. In the flurried finish, Creese fought off hard charges from several competitors to kick to a second-place finish, splitting 4:02.75 on the anchor.
The Nittany Lions are the fourth Penn State squad to earn All-America honors in the relay event, following top eight teams in 1978, 1985, and 1994. The finish also betters the previous program-best finish, which was a bronze-medal effort by Keith Falco, Chris McHugh, Tom Rapp and Mike Wyatt in 1978. Including the four DMR legs, the Nitttany Lions have now claimed a total of 79 NCAA Indoor All-Americans in men's program history.
Also turning in an impressive finish was redshirt-junior Mahagony Jones(Cleveland, Ohio), who took 13th overall in the women's 200 meters. Jones clocked 23.60 in her first-career NCAA appearance - good for USTFCCCA Second Team All-America honors.
The Blue and White enjoyed an outstanding day at NCAAs overall, led by Creese and senior Casimir Loxsom(New Haven, Conn.), who both advanced through the preliminary rounds of the mile and 800-meters, respectively.
After cruising through the first 1200 meters, Creese turned in on over the last 400 meters, outlasting the rest of the field to win the heat in 4:01.67. Creese will be making his second-straight appearance in the NCAA Indoor mile final, having finished 11th as a freshman in 2012. In fact, Creese is one of just three athletes to qualify for the mile final in both 2012 and 2013, including defending NCAA Champion Chris O'Hare from Tulsa, and Raul Botezan of Oklahoma State. Creese will be back on the track at 6:10 p.m., on Saturday.
Loxsom will also advance to tomorrow's final round, after finishing third in his preliminary heat and earn one of the automatic-advancing slots. The senior bided his time within the pack, sprinting to a top three spot over the closing meters to finish in 1:49.13. Saturday's final is set for 7:30 p.m.
Along with Loxsom and Creese, redshirt-junior Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio), and junior Marlene Ricketts(Westbury, N.Y.) will also be in action tomorrow with Barr slated to compete in the men's weight throw, and Ricketts set to take to the field in the women's triple jump. Barr will be the Lions' first competitor in action tomorrow, with the weight throw set for a 2:00 p.m., start time.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.