Nittany Lion Cross Country Posts Pair of Runner-Up Efforts at Penn State National
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: October 17, 2008 - The Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country teams both engineered second-place finishes in talented fields at the Penn State National on Friday at the Blue/White Golf Course. Both Penn State squads posted outstanding efforts, let by a fifth-place showing by redshirt freshman Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) in the men's race, and a fourth-place finish by junior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) in the women's race.
The Nittany Lion men provided arguably their best performance of the 2008 campaign, finishing second behind only No. 8 Georgetown, and upending Villanova, which was rated 28th nationally going into the race. Georgetown scored 43 points in the win, followed by the Lions in second with 93, and Villanova in third with 126. The No. 20 Penn State women were just as successful placing second behind No. 7 West Virginia, and topping No. 25 Wake Forest, and No. 28 Duke.
"Today was an outstanding day for Penn State Cross Country," said Director and Head Coach of Penn State Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Both teams showed they are ready to compete when the pressure is on. The men certainly made a statement in beating Villanova and proved that they are ready to be contenders during championship time."
Dawson - in his first-career appearance in a Penn State uniform - had a smashing collegiate debut, finishing fifth overall in 25:24, just 14 seconds off Andrew Bumbalough of Georgetown who won the individual title. Bumbalough's 25:10 was the second-fastest time ever run on Penn State's 5.2 mile course.
"It was an exciting debut for Kyle," continued Sullivan. "It's a great thing for him to be able to come out and get his first race in, but also a rally for our entire men's team."
Senior Tyler McCandless (Bath, Pa.) finished second for the Lions, turning in a 19th-place finish in 25:39. Classmate John Mahoney (Richboro, Pa.) also made good on his final home cross country appearance, taking 21st overall in 25:47. Freshman Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.) was the top true freshman in the field with a 25th-place standing in 25:52, and senior Brian Fuller (Camp Hill, Pa.) capped the Lion scoring in 26th overall, running 25:54.
Senior Dennis O'Connor (Philadelphia) placed 29th overall in 25:56 as the Lions' sixth runner, while Teddy Quinn (Rush, N.Y.) rounded out the Penn State top seven with a 43rd-place effort in 26:09. The Nittany Lion men displayed remarkable improvement since their last home appearance, as McNally shaved over 30 seconds off his performance at September's Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, O'Connor and Mahoney each cut over 45 seconds, and Quinn dropped an impressive 1:46.
Franek led the way for the Nittany Lion women, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 20:20, nearly a minute faster than her performance in 2007. The National was one of the fastest races ever run at the Blue/White Course as Guelph's Lindsay Carson took the individual title in 20:07 - the second-best performance in the history of the 6,000-meter course. In fact, Friday's top four finishers - including Carson, West Virginia's Keri Bland (20:11) and Clara Grandt (20:17), and Franek - are now ranked second through fifth among the course's all-time top ten performances.
Junior Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas) was the second Lion to finish, placing 14th in 21:04, with classmate Leah Rosenfeld (Ridgefield, Conn.) following in 21st in 21:10. Senior Claire Percival (Sarnia, Ontario) also turned in a top 25 effort, finishing 23rd overall in 21:12. Freshman Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) rounded out the Lion scoring with a 25th-place effort, crossing the finish line in 21:42.
"The women were once again in a great mentality to compete today," said Sullivan. "We look forward to the next two weeks of training to get ready for the Big Ten Championships."
Senior Janelle Young (Lemoyne, Pa.) gave another outstanding effort with a 38th-place finish in 21:28, while freshman Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) finished as the Lions' number seven, placing 44th in 21:42. The Nittany Lion women also saw significant drops in the finishing times since the Spiked Shoe Invitational, with Spring shaving 30 seconds off her performance, Percival, Millhouse, and Lane cutting nearly a minute a piece, and Young dropping just under 80 seconds.
The Lions' will look to carry the momentum from their outstanding finishes into their next competition, the Big Ten Cross Country Championships. The conference meet is set for November 2, in Ann Arbor, Mich.