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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With less than a month until their first indoor meet, the Penn State track and field team is well underway in their preseason training.
Assistant coach Lucias MacKay is excited for his first year as throws coach here at Penn State. MacKay is coming from Oklahoma State University, where he was the throws coach during the 2015-2016 indoor and outdoor seasons. During his one year at Oklahoma State, he guided two athletes to an NCAA Championship, where one placed second in the women's shot put.
Now at Penn State, throwers are in their third month of training this fall. Being a first year coach, MacKay spent the first part of training getting familiar with his athletes.
"First month is kind of getting to know how I coach, how they learn, so that takes a little while, a few weeks. You get to know some of the names of the exercises, those types of things and my coaching style," said MacKay.
Starting to get further into training, MacKay and his athletes have progressed into more intensive drills and workouts.
"Month two is starting to get used to those things and perfecting them a little more, figuring out where their strengths and weakens are," said MacKay. "Now we're in month three, we're starting to kind of catch a rhythm a little bit, start to train at a little better pace and now we have a little bit longer practices, so it's really going well right now."
The javelin group consists of a lot in-state talent. For the men's side, senior record holder, Michael Shuey (249'-5"), senior Ryan Kerr, and sophomore Michael Biddle are a part of this group. Last outdoor season, Kerr had the best throw with a 228'-8" with Biddle following (214'-2").
For the javelin throwers on the women's side there is senior Kayla Zoschq, junior Anna Bailey and sophomore Steph Sievers. All three women threw over 140' last season, Bailey (1849'-2'), Sievers (146'-8") and Zoschg (140'-3").
"Having seven javelin throwers is great because it's just one big group of one eventers that we're able to do a lot of training with and get a lot of density in their work," said MacKay.
In the shot put group for the men and women, there is senior Alyssa Robinson, junior John Yoman, sophomore David Lucas and freshmen Ben Peterson and Luke Grodeska. Last outdoor season Robinson threw 54'-2" at the Big Ten Championships, earning a bronze medal for Penn State. This mark also moved her to No. 4 on the all-time list.
Yohman had the outdoor season best shot put throw with 60'-10.50" at Penn Relays, where he became the third straight Nittany Lion to win the event following Darrell Hill in 2014 and 2015, while Lucas had his best season throw at the Big Ten Championships (55'-1.5").
"Shot put group is coming along really well. John Yoman is in his fourth year, and Alyssa Robinson is coming along in her glide technique. David Lucas may surprise a few people, an All-American in discus last year, he is coming along in the shot put pretty well, trying to be patient. Our two freshmen are also coming along really well.
Some of the discus training has been put on halt due to track renovations, but MacKay is eager to get back out there to see what the athletes can do.
"Discus training is going well and we're looking forward to getting out on our track soon. Hopefully before Thanksgiving break so that we get a month or so on the track to let things fly a little bit and get some feedback from those," said MacKay.
"Overall, I'm really pleased with the group," said MacKay. "I'm really happy, I think we're going to be really competitive in the Big Ten and hopefully on the national scene as well."