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Junior Marlene Ricketts
Oct. 9, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Assistant Coach Fritz Spence begins his seventh year with the Nittany Lions, enjoying stellar results over his first six seasons in Happy Valley. Spence welcomes back an outstanding core of athletes in the women's jumps and multi-events this fall, including juniors Marlene Ricketts (Westbury, N.Y.), and Brittney Howell (Wyncote, Pa.).
The following is the second in a series of fall updates from Nittany Lion track and field practice and fall conditioning. This installment features a practice session with student athletes in the women's jumps, including high, long, and triple jumps, as well as multi-event athletes.
Fall in Happy Valley || Nittany Lion Women's Jumps
Back at the forefront of the women's jumps contingent will be juniors Ricketts and Howell, who have both posted outstanding results in their first two years in a Nittany Lion uniform. Ricketts enjoyed a promising outdoor campaign last spring, coming within inches of a bid to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. As a sophomore, Ricketts turned in a leap of 41-10.75 (12.77) to finish 15th at the NCAA Eastern Preliminary - just off of capturing one of the top 12 advancing slots. Howell has been the Nittany Lions top athlete in the multi-events over the past several seasons, including a fifth-place finish in the pentathlon at the Big Ten Indoor Championships as a sophomore. Howell also led Penn State in the long jump standings a year ago, with performances of 19-3.25 (5.87) indoors, and 19-4 (5.89) during the outdoor season.
Seniors Erika Morgan (Chesapeake, Va.) and Kelsey Couts (Powell, Ohio) are poised for an outstanding final go-around in the high jump, boasting PRs of 5-8.75 (1.75) and 5-8.50 (1.74), respectively. Morgan is coming off two-straight appearances at the NCAA Eastern Preliminary Round in the event, and also has a pair of Big Ten scoring finishes to her credit. Couts has also enjoyed a strong career thus far, having qualified for the NCAA First Round in 2011.
Fall in Happy Valley || Coach Fritz Spence
Also back after a solid freshman campaign in 2012 is sophomore Sarah Palmer (Schuylerville, N.Y.). Palmer topped out at 5-8 (1.73) during the indoor season, which was good for fifth at the Big Ten Championships. Outdoors, Palmer cleared 5-8.75 (1.75).
New to the Nittany Lion line up in 2012 will be freshmen Kaitlyn Lopez (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Ahmenah Richardson (Philadelphia, Pa.). Lopez, who was the New York State Outdoor Champion in the long jump, comes in with a PR of 18-9.75 on her resume, while Richardson - from Milton Hershey High School - joins the Nittany Lions as a multiple-time Pennsylvania indoor and outdoor state qualifier, and owns a career-best clearance of 5-7 ( in the high jump.
Fall in Happy Valley || Junior Marlene Ricketts
Spence's prize pupil has been all-time Nittany Lion great Gayle Hunter, who ended her career in the Blue and White with nine All-America finishes, including a runner-up finishing in the pentathlon at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships. All told, Hunter holds a total of four Penn State records, and was also a member of the Nittany Lions' national-champion 4x400-meter relay at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The seventh-year assistant has also overseen stellar careers of former Nittany Lion standouts Clarence Smith and Bianca Fung. Smith claimed a pair of All-America finishes before completing his career in 2009, also earning a trio of Big Ten titles during his four years in the Blue and White. Fung also turned in an outstanding four years as a collegiate, making two appearances at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, as well as earning a bronze medal finish in the long jump in her final Big Ten showing in 2011.
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