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June 20, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa - Coming off an outstanding showing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the Nittany Lion track and field squads will continue to challenge the nation's best this week, competing at the USATF Senior and Junior Championships at Drake Stadium. A grand total of 10 current Nittany Lions will be in action, as well as several highly-ranked alumni and friends of the Penn State program.
Vying for a spot at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, this summer will be volunteer assistant Ryan Whiting. Whiting, the current world leader in the shot put at 73-1.25 (22.28), will be competing for his second-straight trip to the World Outdoor Championships, and is also coming off an appearance in the Olympic final in 2012. Also competing in the shot put will be former Nittany Lion Joe Kovacs. Kovacs - a multiple time All-American during his career in the Blue and White - is currently ranked seventh among Americans at 68-3.75 (20.82).
Attempting to make her third-straight World Champs squad will be 2010 graduate and former NCAA Champion Bridget Franek, who currently competes for the Oregon Track Club. Franek ranks third nationally in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, thanks to an effort of 9:35.42, earlier this season. Franek - an Olympic finalist in 2012 - has already made World Championship appearances in 2009 and 2011. Fellow graduate Kara (Millhouse) Foster will also take on the nation's top athletes in the distances, competing in the women's 10,000 meters.
All five of the Nittany Lions' All-America finishers will be competing in Des Moines, including senior Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and freshman Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio). Loxsom and Kidder notched an impressive two-three finish in the 800 meters at the NCAA Championships - the second First Team All-America finish of 2013 for both Nittany Lions. Also representing Penn State in the middle distances will be NCAA sixth-placer Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) in the 1500 meters.
Javelin duo Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.) and Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.) will highlight things for the Nittany Lions in the senior field events, following fourth and fifth-place finishes in the event at the NCAA Championships. The duo has been on a roll all season, including a one-two sweep at the Big Ten Championships with Kenney coming out with top honors. Kenney and Loht currently rank fifth and sixth among U.S. javelinists, with performances of 177-3 (54.02), and 176-9 (53.88), respectively.
A quartet of Nittany Lions will compete in the junior (19-and-under) events, including NCAA qualifiers Michael Shuey (Johnsonburg, Pa.) in the men's javelin, and Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) in the 400-meter hurdles. Also set for action is Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) in the shot put, discus, and javelin, as well as Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) in the steeplechase.
Action in Des Moines continues through Sunday afternoon. For more on Nittany Lion Track and Field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.