Nittany Lion Men Finish Ninth at NCAA Indoor Championships
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.: March 9, 2013 -
Paced by an NCAA runner-up effort from Casimir Loxsom(New Haven, Conn.), the Nittany Lion men's squad totaled 19 points - tying for ninth place in the team standings - Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the University of Arkansas. Also capturing First Team All-America status was redshirt-junior Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio), who turned in a sixth-place standing in the men's weight throw. The Nittany Lions will also come away with a sensational haul of USTFCCCA First Team All-America finishers, bringing home six top eight standings on the weekend.
The Nittany Lions' finish is the first top 10 standing since 1975, while Penn State's 19-point total is the highest in program history. The Big Ten Conference mounted an impressive showing on the weekend, with three conference programs in the top nine, and four in the top 12. Arkansas took top honors on the men's side with 74 points, followed by Florida in second with 59. Wisconsin and Texas A&M rounded out the top four with 33, and 30 points, respectively.
"It as a great day. 19 points is far above where we've ever been," said Director of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We know we can be better, and we've got to get better. We have to keep pressing forward. A little here, a little there, and I think we can really be players. But for today, we'll take it!"
Loxsom bolted to a second-place finish in the 800-meters - the highest NCAA standing of his decorated career - finishing second-to-only Oregon's Elijah Greer. After setting the pace for the first 400 meters of the race, Loxsom fought of a hard charge from the rest of the pack, recovering to make it a two-man race between he and Greer. Loxsom would cross in 1:47.23 - following a lean at the line - just a tenth of a second behind Greer in 1:47.13.
"Finishing national runner up is a big deal, especially against a guy like Elijah (Greer)," said Loxsom post-race. "It was a fun race. I executed my race plan, and got out front to stay out of troubleI made it a two-horse race, and that's really what I wanted. It's definitely encouraging for the outdoor season."
Historically speaking, Loxsom is the fifth Nittany Lion to earn All-America honors in the event indoors, and now owns the highest finish in program history moving ahead of Randy Moore (1985) and Ryan Foster(2010), who each had third-place finishes to their credit. Individually, Loxsom now has five First Team All-America finishes to his credit, and closes out a stellar indoor career, in which he advanced to the NCAA Championships during all four seasons.
The runner-up finish was the second for the Nittany Lions on the weekend, following the effort of the men's distance medley relay on Friday evening. The DMR, including freshman Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), junior Brandon Bennett-Green (Philadelphia, Pa.), freshman Za'Von Watkins(Liverpool, N.J.), and sophomore Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) clocked 9:34.00 to place second, which also stands as the highest finish in program history in the event.
Barr enjoyed one of the more consistent series of the competition, including four tosses over the 69-foot barrier. All told, Barr went 67-7 (20.60), 69-3.25 (21.11), 69-1.25 (21.06), and 68-8.75 (21.15) for his first five efforts, before unleashing a PR and school-record 69-11.75 (21.33) on his sixth and final attempt. The redshirt-junior has been on fire all season, resetting the school record in the event on no less than five occasions, and caps the indoor campaign with his first-career All-America effort.
"It knew it was there, but was just missing the finish," said Barr on his final attempt. "I got a good clap from the crowd, and got some adrenaline flowing and just ripped it out there."Barr was also part of a sensational effort from the Big Ten Conference in the event, as conference competitors covered four of the top six finishing places, as well as five of the top nine.With the finish, Barr is now the sixth Nittany Lion to earn All-America status in the event, and the first since Neal McNutt's seventh-place standing in 1998. All told, Barr posted the third-best finish in program history, following fourth-place finishes by Roger Kauffman and Al Jackson in 1965, and 1976, respectively.Also competing on Saturday, and earning USTFCCCA Second Team All-America honors were Creese and junior Marlene Ricketts(Westbury, N.Y.). Creese turned in a ninth-place finish in the mile run, marking his second-straight appearance in the NCAA Indoor final, while Ricketts posted a 12th-place showing in the triple jump, thanks to an effort of 41-11.50 (12.79).Penn State will take a few weeks off before going full steam into the outdoor season, which begins with a small contingent of at the Stanford Invitational on March 29-30. The Nittany Lions will then send a full contingent of athletes to the Alabama Invitational on April 6.