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June 9, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa - Senior Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.) and the men's 4x400-meter relay added to the Nittany Lions' All-America haul on Saturday, both posting fourth-place finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium. Both the Nittany Lion men's and women's squads fared well in the team standings, each finishing with top 30 efforts. The men's team scored 13 points for 21st place, while the women's program totaled 11 points for 29th, capping a sensational four days of action for both squads.
Coming off of a school-record performance of 3:01.52 during the preliminary round, the Nittany Lions would once again prove themselves as one of the top relay squads in the country, scoring a fourth-place finish, thanks to the efforts of sophomore Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), sophomore Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), junior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and sophomore Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.).
Gehret, who placed sixth in the open 400-meters last night, capped a breakout weekend for the Nittany Lions, anchoring the squad to an impressive 3:01.58 with an official split of 44.29 on the final carry. The race was one of the fastest on record, with the top five squads all going under 3:02, including runs of 3:00.02 and 3:00.64, respectively, by one-two finishers Florida and Southern California. The finish is also a historical one in the Nittany Lion record books, as the squad is Penn State's first-ever All-America squad in the outdoor 4x400. The Nittany Lion relay has been on a roll all year, having finished second at the NCAA Indoor Championships, to improve upon a fifth-place effort in 2011.
The young contingent of Nittany Lions are steadily adding to the Penn State trophy cases, as Gehret now has five All-America finishes to his credit, and Loxsom, Nadolsky, and Bennett-Green owning four, three, and two, respectively.
Kovacs claimed his third-career All-America finish in the shot put, turning in a fourth-place effort to cap an outstanding Nittany Lion collegiate career. Kovacs posted a top throw of 64-3 (19.58) on the day, picking up his second-straight All-America effort at the outdoor championships. Arizona State's Jordan Clark took top honors via a mark of 66-11.25 (20.40).
The Nittany Lions have been hot in the event over the past several seasons, with Blake Eaton earning All-America standing in 2010, and Kovacs following up with top eight efforts in 2011 and 2012. All told, Kovacs is the ninth men's All-American in the event outdoors.
With Kovacs and the 4x400 making the medal stand, the Lions will take home a total of eight First Team All-America certificates from the championships, including Gehret in the 400, as well as sophomore Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.), and freshman Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.), who placed third and fourth in the javelin.
The season isn't over yet, as the Nittany Lions are set to travel a small contingent to the USATF Junior Championships next week in Bloomington, Ind., while the US Olympic Trials are on the horizon, set for June 22-July 1 in Eugene, Ore.