Gehret, Loxsom, Simko Punch Tickets to Des Moines
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Junior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.), and sophomores Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.) and Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) will all advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships next month, thanks to qualifying efforts in the quarterfinal rounds, Friday at the NCAA Eastern Preliminary at Hodges Stadium. The Nittany Lions are developing quite a travel roster for the NCAA Finals, with sophomores Will Barr (Urbana, Ohio), and Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.), and freshman Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.) all earning bids to Des Moines during competition on Thursday.
Loxsom turned on the jets in the final 200-meters of his 800-meter quarterfinal, running away with the heat victory in 1:47.69 - the second-fastest performance in qualifying. The junior, who placed fourth in the event at NCAAs a year ago, has now guaranteed his third-straight trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and his sixth NCAA appearance overall. The Nittany Lions will also be represented in the women's 800 in Des Moines, thanks to Simko, who placed third in her half mile heat to automatically advance. The sophomore, who will also run the quarterfinal round of the 1500-meters on Saturday, ran 2:05.81 - her second-fastest performance of the outdoor season - to claim her first-career bid to the NCAA Championships.
Gehret easily qualified through in the 400-meters, sprinting to a finishing time of 45.56 to place second in his section, and third overall. The Altoona, Pa., product already has a pair of NCAA appearances under his belt, including a third-place finish in the 400 at the NCAA Indoor Championships as a freshman. Teammate Brandon Bennett-Green(Elkins' Park, Pa.) came up just shy of advancing to Des Moines, running 46.45 to place 17th overall - just .15 seconds from the 12th-and-final qualifying position. Gehret, Loxsom, and Bennett-Green are all slated to come back and compete on Penn State's 4x400-meter relay on Saturday.
In preliminary action, sophomore Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname) earned a spot in the quarterfinal of the women's 200-meters, running 24.06 in the first round of heats. Junior Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.) also competed in the sprints, placing 18th overall in the 400-meter hurdles in 59.38 - just off of making the trip to the NCAA Finals.
In the longer distances, junior Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.) was the Nittany Lions' top finisher, placing 21st in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The junior clocked a personal-best 10:20.33 in the effort - a career low by nearly 10 seconds, as well as the fifth-fastest performance in school history.
The Nittany Lions will be back in action on Saturday, with the competition schedule set to begin at 2:00 p.m., with the women's hammer throw. For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com. </p?