Nittany Lion Women Take Second; Men Place Third at Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invite
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: September 13, 2008 - The Nittany Lion cross country teams turned in impressive finishes in their first home competition on Saturday, with the Penn State women taking runner-up honors, and the men's squad earning a third-place finish. Junior Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas) led the way for the women's team, posting her first collegiate victory, while freshman Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.) earned the top placing on the men's squad with a seventh-place standing.
Spring distanced herself from the start of the 6,000-meter course and held on to a comfortable 10-second margin over the rest of the field, finishing in 21:29. The win was the first of Spring's already accomplished career, and the second-straight win - and fifth in the last seven years - by a Penn State woman at the Spiked Shoe competition.
"It was a very good first showing of the majority of our women's team," said Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan." We ran a competitive and tight race against Syracuse, who ran very well to win. Holding out three of our top five from last season today, this definitely shows us that we will be a team to contend with come championship time."
Senior Clair Percival (Sarnia, Ontario) followed up with a seventh-place effort, finishing in 22:10 as the Nittany Lions' second runner. Freshman Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) continued to impress, finishing in eighth place in 22:12.
Classmate Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) turned in a 14th-place finish in 22:35, with senior Janelle Young (Lemoyne, Pa.) rounding out the Lion team score in 15th with a finishing time of 22:43. The Nittany Lion top seven also included strong performances from Katie Shelley (Columbia, Pa.), who took 18th in 22:51, and Paige Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.), who placed 30th in 23:21.
"It was tremendous performance from Cheryl - wire-to-wire.," continued Sullivan. "She's developing into a confident collegiate athlete, and we're looking forward to see what she can do this year. I was very excited to see Janelle (Young) back in a top five scoring position, and we were happy to see another outstanding effort from our freshman duo Millhouse and Lane."
McNally impressed in his first collegiate appearance, running 26:29 over the 5.2-mile course to finish as the Lions' number one. Senior Dennis O'Connor (Philadelphia) would finish as the Lions' number two, taking 12th overall in 26:39. Senior John Mahoney (Richboro, Pa.) also managed a top 20 showing, placing 18th in 26:51.
"Vince worked his way back into the top ten in a very competitive performance for a freshman," said Sullivan. Syracuse is great team. I was really impressed with the squad that they ran at point of the year."
Senior Dennis Pollow (Ransomville, N.Y.) turned in a 28th-place effort as the Lions' fourth man, crossing the finish line in 27:16, while sophomore Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) closed out the Lion scoring in 32nd, finishing in 27:25.
"Our men had moderate results," continued Sullivan. "They have a lot of work ahead of them, but if they continue to be patient and continue to aggressive in their racing, we will be there when it matters at the end of the year."
The morning also featured a pair of high school races, which were won by Rush-Henrietta on the boy's side, and Governor Mifflin in the women's competition. Lewisburg's Sophia Zieman topped the girls' 5,000-meter field in 18:24, while Sam Havko of Fairview was the boys' winner in 16:02.
"It was great to see Coach Groves out and about today at an event that is nearing its 40th year," concluded Sullivan. "And this was definitely another great day for meet."
The Nittany Lions will be on the road next weekend, traveling to the Iona Meet of Champions in the Bronx, N.Y. on Saturday, Sept. 20.