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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With fall training well underway, the Penn State Track & Field team is gearing up for their first indoor meet in mid-December.
Coach Kelly is in his fourth year coaching at Penn State, where he coaches men's triple jump, long jump, multi-events and men/women's pole vault.
"So far, so good. We've put in a really good fall. I'm really excited about where we are at," said Kelly.
Men's triple jump is led by junior, Bryce Williams. While an injury kept him out of the Big Ten meet last year, Williams scored at Big Tens two years ago with a mark of 50'2', his personal best. Kelly has high hopes for Williams this season, saying he is really coming along. On the younger side, Kelly said both sophomore Kobren Frederick and freshman Darian Alston will be big factors this season. Frederick, who won the triple jump at the 2015 Pennsylvania Outdoor Track & Field State Championships, had a personal best triple jump at 47'-9.25". Alston was the 2016 indoor state champion in the triple jump, coming in with a best mark of 48'9".
"Triple jump has been a real strength at Penn state here for a long time, even before I got here. We graduated two All-Americans that have been at national championships and contending for Big Ten titles," said Kelly. "I think we have a group that can do something at the Big Ten level."
The same three men will be competing in long jump for Penn State. Williams had personal best mark of 23'7-25" outdoor at the Jim Thorpe Invite last season. Along with that group, junior Malik Moffett also will compete in long jump this season. Moffett is in the top-10 outdoor performances for Penn State with a mark of 24'-11.50" at the 2016 Big Ten Championships, making him ninth all-time.
Two freshmen come in as high school state champions, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Colorado. Spencer Hay was the 2016 PIAA-2A high jump state champion with a personal best mark of 6'8", while Austin Campbell, who was a state champ of Colorado, is coming in with a 6'11" mark.
For the men's pole vault, we have freshman Griffin Thompson. Thompson was a Pennsylvania state champion last year with a mark of 16'3". Senior Patrick Anderson, who was hurt last year, is healthy and ready to go according to Kelly.
For the women's vault, Penn State has a group of top-ten all-time jumpers. Senior outdoor record holder Lexi Masterson (13'-3.5"), second on the all-time list, junior Hannah Mulhern (13'-2.5"), fourth on the all-time list, Kasey Kemp (12-10.25"), and ninth all-time, Megan Fry (12'6"), will all be returning.
"The women's vault is really an event that I think could really be a strength of our team. We have four ladies who are extremely talented. I think we can do some really good things at the Big Ten level and at the national level. We got Lexi Masterson, Hannah Mulhern, Kasey Kemp and Megan Fry," said Kelly.
For the other jump events, Coach Fritz Spence is in his 10th year coaching for the Nittany Lions, training the women's triple jump, long jump, multi-events.
"I think the fall has been progressing really well," said Spence. "I think we are way ahead of where we were last year at this time, so the student-athletes did a good job this summer in working out and coming back fitter than they normally would."
Last year, senior Danielle Gibson had a tremendous year, where she jumped 44'8.75" in triple jump at the NCAA East Preliminary, her personal best. Gibson is also 10th on the all-time performance list in long jump with her best mark of 20'2.25". Senior Kaitlyn Lopez only has outdoor eligibility, but her fall training is going well. Lopez is tied for eighth all-time in the triple jump for Penn State with a mark of 41'-2.50".
Leading in high jump, junior Megan McCloskey was a consistent 5'10" high jumper last season. Her personal best being 5'10.50" at the Outdoor Big Ten Championships, that mark tying for sixth best in program history.
For multi-events, sophomore Maddie Holmberg is coming off an injury, but is ready for the upcoming season. Holmberg has the seventh all-time heptathlon performance.
"She's looking good, she's back and learning a lot," said Spence on Holmberg's performance this fall.
Spence talks out his new athletes, saying that the freshmen are also looking good this preseason. For the jumps, freshman include high jumper, Grayson McCloy and long and triple jumpers Julia Howard and Kelsey Vieira.
"I'm really impressed; I'm really excited about the upcoming season. I'm looking forward to some really good, outstanding performances from both the horizontal and vertical jumps," said Spence.