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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With outdoor season well underway, Penn State is finally experiencing the outdoor season weather along with it.
The team spent some time out on their newly renovated track this past week since the weather was nice here in Happy Valley, and is feeling good after experiencing the smoothly surfaced track.
"It's been nice for the long throwers to be able to actually get on the runway and in circle and do what they want to do," said head coach John Gondak. "For the runners, the adjustment is the first time you do a workout out there the track seems so big as compared to what we are used to in here. Sometimes they feel a little sluggish on it, but as you can see from our first two competitions where they vast majority of the people competing weren't on an outdoor track yet, it didn't seem to affect them very much at all."
Throws coach, Lucais MacKay, feels that being able to finally practice on the outdoor track has been a positive boost for the throwers attitudes and performances.
"Being out on the outdoor track has been much, much more exciting. It's fun to finally see things go far. Athletes are in a little better mood and you get more feedback, just being outdoors in the circle," said MacKay. "So, they were a little bit behind the curve, with only have two or three practices outside before Arizona State, but now we've had a solid twelve days outside so I think they're finally coming into form."
For senior javelin thrower Michael Shuey, this transition to being able to throw outdoors isn't something new.
"It's a little difficult because you kind of get content just doing drills over and over again, you don't really get to see how the javelin is flying or anything like that, but coming off the injury it was nice to break everything down and not worry about distance. It was a nice transition period, but I've done it five times now so I was used to it at this point," said Shuey.
"After the first meet, I'm glad to get that out of the way. I was really nervous. I'm just excited to go to this next meet and do what we've been working on all of indoor season and now even more with being outside again, and I'm excited to settle in and throw how I know I can throw," he added.
Along with the throwers, different events experience different obstacles when transitioning into outdoor season. For pole vaulters, wind becomes a major factor with how they approach their jump. Junior vaulter, Hannah Mulhern explains just how important it is to get some practice in an outdoor setting before competition.
"Being able to finally practice on our outdoor track has been something really great because the outdoor season for us as pole vaulters brings a whole new element into place, which is wind," said Mulhern. "It's really important that we get experience practicing with that outdoors and get used to it and get used to working through and getting used to that new element so that we're prepared for any kind of weather condition anywhere we go."
The Nittany Lions will be traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to compete in the Battle on the Bayou this Saturday, April 8th. With the long road ahead, Gondak is happy with how the men and women are performing at this point in the year.
"I'm thrilled with where we are right now. We had a lot of things go right at both Florida Relays, Arizona State and Stanford," said Gondak. "Looking ahead, this is a great weekend for us at LSU to go into a scored meet and compete against three of the best teams in the country, so I'm excited to see our student-athletes go out there and compete."