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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "You don't really think about it," said head track and field coach John Gondak about the transition from indoor to outdoor season. "You just come in and you get your work done."
The Nittany Lion track and field team finished up their indoor season two weeks ago with the NCAA Indoor Championships and have been transitioning into outdoor season since. The team will be traveling to Arizona this upcoming weekend for their first outdoor meet of the season.
Although Penn State's outdoor track has been undergoing renovations since the fall, the transition to outdoor hasn't affected the team.
"We haven't really been on the outdoor track much through the fall because of the construction and so far this winter because of the weather. The weather looking on the calendar it looks like we have 60 degree days ahead of us so hopefully we'll be able to transition out there pretty soon, but we just do the best you can practicing inside," said Gondak. "When we get out to Arizona this weekend, we'll go out and compete and try to teach the student athletes to be the best competitor they can be under any situation and just let them compete and do the best they can do."
The outdoor season is an exciting changeover for the team. The season adds more events and gives injured athletes and athletes out of eligibility a chance to come back into action.
"We have a couple new events that come into play as we move outdoors, so it'll be exciting to see our athletes compete in those events and kind of get a baseline of where they are. The other thing as we move into outdoors is we have a handful of athletes that were either redshirted during the indoor season or that were out of eligibility," said Gondak. "We have two fifth year seniors that will come back into play outdoors that are both very talented, so I'm eager to see them get back on the track and compete after having not done so during indoor season for us in uniform."
The 400-meter hurdles are one of the events that will be added to the mix during outdoor. Junior hurdler Rachael DeCecco is ready to compete in her main event.
"The transition is a really exciting time especially as a 400-hurdler. We've been kind of on our backburners for the indoor season, not really doing our event, so we're pumped up and ready to start running the event that we came here to do," said DeCecco. "It'll be a little bit of a hard transition since we haven't been able to run outside yet, we've been working out just indoors so we haven't been able to do much of 400 hurdling, but our first meet will set a good tone for where we are in the season and know what we have to work on."
The Nittany Lions had successful indoor seasons on both the men's and women's sides and are looking forward to what they'll be able to accomplish this outdoor season.
"After coming off such a strong indoor season as a team, I think everyone's really excited to get started with outdoors," said junior captain Megan McCloskey. "It was a good few weeks, kind of a transition period and rest for everyone. Our people coming back from nationals are getting their feet back under them and everyone who just attended Big Tens is just ready to go this weekend and start off the season strong."
Coach Gondak has some starting goals this outdoor season, but wants to get a few meets underway before determining all the team can achieve this year.
"I usually like to get a few weeks into the season to really sit down and put some goals on paper. I like to see where everybody's fitness is and what they're all doing," he said. "We bring a variety of new events into the mix when you move to the outdoor season, so I want to see how our team competes over the next couple of weeks then we'll start to formulate some goals of what we think we can do as we head toward championship time."
The Nittany Lions will be in action for their first outdoor meet of the season this Friday and Saturday March 24th and 25th in Tempe, AZ at the PAC12-BIG10 Challenge.