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Dec. 3, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2012 Nittany Lion men's track and field recruiting class has been ranked No. 5, nationally, according to the latest edition of Track & Field News. Penn State welcomes a bevy of talent to the 2012-13 roster, including middle distance standouts Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), and Za'Von Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.), as well as highly touted javelin specialist Michael Shuey (Johnsonburg, Pa.). The Nittany Lions also welcome All-American Ricky West (Toronto, Ontario), who is attending graduate school at Penn State following a decorated career at the University of Missouri.
"It's an honor to receive a national ranking like this," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "I applaud the great efforts from my coaching staff in recruiting, and we are excited at each of what these young men bring to the table. We recognize how competitive our men's conference and national championships have become, so this ranking certainly says a lot of our program. We look forward to seeing these guys in a uniform in January."
Kidder, who was named to Track and Field News' "Prep All-America Team" last month, comes to Happy Valley with an impressive PR of 4:03.12 for a full mile - the fifth-fastest performance in the high school ranks last year. Kidder - the OHSAA State Champion in the 800, 1600, and 4x800 in 2012 - also owns a lifetime best of 1:51.09 in the 800 meters. Kidder has also fared well in national-class events, taking fourth in the high-powered Adidas Dream Mile as a senior, which featured nine preps under 4:05, and also placed fourth in the mile at the Brooks PR Invitational.
Watkins will also be a welcome addition to the Nittany Lions already outstanding middle distance contingent, boasting personal bests of 1:19.20 in the 600 meters, 1:49.70 for 800, and 4:07.24 in the 1600 meters. Watkins impressed throughout his prep career, turning in a PR 2:26.13 for the 1,000 meters as a junior - the fastest effort by a high schooler in 2011. As a senior, Watkins placed second in the 800 at New Balance Indoor Nationals running 1:50.11 - the third-fastest time ever run by a prep indoors. Watkins - the 2012 Millrose Games Champion in the 1500 - was also a two-time runner up in the 800 at the prestigious New Balance Outdoor National Championships, as well as the NYSPHSAA State 800 Champion during his junior and senior seasons.
West earned a pair of All-America finishes for the Tigers in 2012, finishing sixth in the hotly contest 800 final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he clocked a PR of 1:46.41. West was just as impressive indoors, finishing eighth in the NCAA 800 final, to go along with a gold-medal finish in the event at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. The fifth-year senior also owns a personal-indoor best of 1:47.81.
Shuey came on strong in the throws last spring, ending the outdoor season as the third-ranked javelin thrower in the high school ranks at 212-2. Shuey, who was also a PIAA state qualifier in the high jump, claimed the PIAA javelin title in 2012, and went on to a gold-medal finish in the event at New Balance Outdoor Nationals.
The Nittany Lions will also add instate stars Patrick Anderson (Kane, Pa.), Robby Cardina (Lancaster, Pa.), Jarred Posey (York, Pa.) and Alex Shisler (State College, Pa.). Both Anderson and Posey come in with Pennsylvania state titles to their credit, as Anderson won PIAA outdoor titles in the pole vault as a junior and again as a senior, while Posey took top honors in the triple jump at the PTFCA Indoor Championships in 2012. Anderson's lifetime-best clearance of 16-4.75 was ranked second in Pennsylvania a year ago. Posey ranked second in the state indoors at 48-2.75.
Cardina earned All-State honors in both the 300-meter hurdles and the high jump as a senior at Conestoga High School, while local product Shisler, who has run 48.49 in the 400, placed fourth at the PIAA Outdoor Championships in the 400 meters.
The Nittany Lions stand fifth in the Track and Field News rankings behind conference foe Ohio State, Alabama, and Texas A&M. Arkansas, Florida, Stanford, UCLA, and Baylor round out the Top 10.
The Nittany Lions open up the 2012-13 campaign with the Blue-White Instrasquad Meet on December 15, at Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. The regular season is slated to begin with the Penn State Relays, on Saturday, January 5.