Loht, Kenney Go Three-Four in NCAA Javelin
DES MOINES, Iowa: June 6, 2012 - The underclassman duo of sophomore Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.), and freshman Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.) provided a three-four finish, earning dual All-America citations, Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium. Highlighting the first day of action on the track was sophomore Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.), who ran 45.29 to qualify for the men's 400-meter final.
Both Kenney and Loht were on fire out of the gates, as both athletes' best attempts came on their first toss of the competition. Kenney, who was the first thrower in the second preliminary flight, was first to strike, posting a toss of 167-10 (51.17), to better her previous career best by five feet. Loht, who improved upon her 15th-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Championships, would also tally a personal best on her first attempt, going 169-4 (51.62). With their PR throws, Loht and Kenney now rank third and fifth, respectively, in the Penn State record books.
"I haven't had that great of a last couple weeks, but I felt great the last week of practice, so I knew it was going to be there," said Loht of her PR toss. "Last year I made the second team, so my goal was to make the final. I knew if I made it there, I could compete to be an All-American."
Loht and Kenney are the 14th and 15th All-Americans in the event in Penn State history - the most of any men's or women's discipline. Loht is also the second Nittany Lion to win an NCAA bronze medal in the event in the last three years, following Karlee McQuillen's third-place finish in 2010.
"I was really nervous, but I've been in a good spot so I knew I had nothing to lose," said Kenney of her first NCAA experience. "It was definitely a relief to get that big throw early, so I knew it would probably hold up to make finals, and so I'd get three more throws."
Gehret impressed in his preliminary heat of the 400, going 45.29 to finish second in his section. The sophomore, who is the reigning Big Ten Champion in the event, placed third in the 400 as a freshman at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships. Gehret has a full slate of action ahead of him this weekend, as the sophomore will also compete in the preliminary rounds of the 4x400-meter relay on Thursday evening. The men's 400-meter final is scheduled for Friday, at 6:55 p.m., CDT.
A pair of Nittany Lions would also earn USTFCCCA Second Team All-America recognition on the track, as junior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and sophomore Bekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) each earned top 16 finishes in the 800-meters. Loxsom, who will also be back to run the qualifying round of the 4x400, clocked 1:46.85 to place third in his preliminary section, and 11th overall, coming up just shy of advancing to the event final. Simko also narrowly missed advancing to the next round, clipping off a PR 2:05.15 to finish 15th overall.
Thanks to the 11-point haul from Loht and Kenney, the Nittany Lions are currently third in the women's standings, trailing Stanford with 18 points, and Oklahoma with 14.
Action in Des Moines continues on Thursday, with Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) getting things started for the Nittany Lions in the women's hammer, beginning at 3:00 p.m., CDT.