Franek Posts All-Conference Performance at Big Ten Cross Country Championships
Oct. 28, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio: October 28, 2007 - Sophomore Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) captured first team all-conference honors with a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on Sunday, at the Ohio State Golf Course. Franek's effort helped the 26th-ranked Nitttany Lion women to a seventh-place finish in arguably the most challenging field in conference history, which included seven teams ranked among the nation's top 30. The Nittany Lion men also faced some outstanding competition, finishing ninth in the team standings.
Franek held her own in an elite field, which featured nearly 20 All-Americans, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 20:16.99 - almost 30 seconds faster than her previous 6K best, and more than ten spots better than her conference finish as a freshman. Franek ran an outstanding race throughout, and ended with a gutsy finishing kick, out-sprinting Michigan's Nicole Edwards - a multiple-time All-American and Big Ten Champion.
Sophomore Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas) sparked the Penn State effort as the Lions' second runner, turning in a 28th-place effort - 13 spots ahead of her 2006 finish. Spring clocked 20:58.65 for the race, breaking the 21-minute barrier for the first time in her career.
Running third for the Nittany Lions was redshirt-freshman Leah Rosenfeld (Ridgefield, Conn.), who placed 37th. Rosenfeld also posted a 6K PR, running 21:13.49, to finish as the fourth newcomer in the field. Also turning in an outstanding performance was junior Claire Berryman (Morgantown, W.Va.), who finished 45th in 21:32.62. Junior Claire Percival (Sarnia, Ontario) rounded out the Nittany Lion scoring effort with a 52nd-place showing, finishing in 21:46.35.
Junior Meghan Noecker (Reading, Pa.) and senior Sonja Hinish (Williamsburg, Pa.) closed out the Lion top seven, finishing 61st, and 63rd, respectively. Noecker finished the race in 21:58.63, while Hinish clocked 22:02.32.
In the team scoring, No. 8 Minnesota won its first title in program history, edging No. 7 Michigan State, 72-73. No. 6 Michigan finished third with 90 points, followed by 10th-ranked Illinois in fourth with 95, No. 18 Iowa in fifth with 103, and No. 21 Wisconsin in sixth with 112. Penn State placed seventh with a total of 159 points.
Iowa's Diane Nukuri ran a blazing 19:37.60 to win the individual crown, with Michigan State's Nicole Bush, Illinois' Angela Bizzari, Iowa's Meghan Armstrong, and Wisconsin's Hanna Grinaker rounding out the top five.
Junior Tyler McCandless (Bath, Pa.) was the top finisher for the Nittany Lion men, turning in 41st-place finish, and running 25:00.71 for 8,000-meters. Junior Brian Fuller (Camp Hill, Pa.) was the second Lion to cross the finish line, placing 53rd in 25:18.07.
Dennis O'Connor (Philadelphia, Pa.) ran as the Lions' third, taking 55th with a time of 25:20.60. Senior Mike Syrnick (Philadelphia, Pa.) was the Lions' fourth finisher, posting a time of 25:28.38 to place 58th, while freshman Lucas Zarzeczny (Pittsburgh, Pa.) took 61st in 25:32.19, in his first-career appearance at the conference championships.
Junior Dennis Pollow (Ransomville, N.Y.) and senior Mark Horton (Suffern, N.Y.) finish sixth and seventh for the Lions, finishing 65th and 67th, respectively.
No. 6 Wisconsin claimed its 11th-consecutive conference title with a 33-point total, while Badger junior Matt Withrow took individual gold in 23:44.37.
The Lions continue the postseason trail in two weeks, traveling to Bethlehem, Pa., for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. The race is set for November 10, on the campus of Lehigh University, where the top two teams and top five individuals will advance to the NCAA Championships on November 19, in Terre Haute, Ind.